(October 15, 2010) The damaging power of today’s northeast gale did not exact an extended toll along Midcoast Maine, but for about five hours, storm conditions on the water were as profound as they were riveting.
Rain-soaked, I watched with awe the untamed energy of frothing swells rolling in from Penobscot Bay. The rollers, seemingly unfazed by the protected confines of Rockland Harbor, lifted and dropped floating docks about in alarming fashion, while straining the moorings of tug boats, fishing trawlers, lobster boats and recreational craft.
According to local news reports, the gale packed wind gusts along the coast of 55 to 60 mph and dropped up to 3 inches of rain. The West Penobscot Bay weather buoy (NDBC Station 44033), riding the trough of the seas between Rockland and the island of Vinalhaven, recorded wave heights approaching ten feet on the expanse of the bay.
Even tucked-away areas in Rockland Harbor, where sea meets land, offered no reprieve to marine interests from the fury of the tempest.
In the western part of the harbor, the tug boat Ocean King, moored-up with a work barge at the City of Rockland’s Fish Pier on Tillson Avenue, found itself at the center of attention during the storm. Buffeting seas compromised the mooring lines from the tug to the barge, causing the barge to break loose and be lifted up onto the pier.
The incident had a lighthouse connection, as the barge is part of the equipment currently being used on work projects at the wave-swept Saddleback Ledge Lighthouse in East Penobscot Bay.
In addition to the wayward barge, the Rockland Harbormaster reported two boats had come ashore in the City’s North End, and a sailboat sank at its mooring, with pieces of the boat floating ashore.
Marine interests were spared from suffering more damage than what occurred thanks in part to the fact that the tide was ebbing at the height of the storm. All in all, this October northeast gale was quite a start to the 2010-11 winter storm season.