Northeast Gale Sweeps in over Rockland Harbor

Northeast Gale Sweeps in over Rockland Harbor
View of the tug Ocean King and a work barge

(Photo by Bob Trapani, Jr.) A view of the tug Ocean King and the work barge moments prior to the barge breaking loose due to sea conditions

(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.

Strong swells caused a work barge, to break loose

(Photo by Bob Trapani, Jr.) Strong swells, fueled by winds gusting upwards to 55-knots, caused a work barge, previously moored to the tug Ocean King, to break loose

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.

Rolling swells caused the moorings of recreational craft and floating docks, to come under duress

(Photo by Bob Trapani, Jr.) Rolling swells, even in the most protected parts of Rockland Harbor, caused the moorings of recreational craft and floating docks, to come under duress

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.

Strong seas from crashing over Rockland Breakwater

(Photo by Bob Trapani, Jr.) Even though the tide was ebbing at the height of the gale, it didn't stop strong seas from crashing over Rockland Breakwater

Coast Guard Station Rockland, always ready

(Photo by Bob Trapani, Jr.) Coast Guard Station Rockland, always ready to render assistance during weather events like the gale, responded to seven cases within the first hour and a half of the storm

Storm waves in Rockland Harbor

(Photo by Bob Trapani, Jr.) The October northeast gale proved to be quite a start to the 2010-11 winter storm season