During the January blizzard of 2018 we dealt with a lot of heavy snow and ice. Not too big of a deal if you are on land, but if you were a boat in some of the marinas, there could be issues. Many if not all of the larger boats in the Lewes Marina were stuck on the bottom after extreme low tides. Due to the recent full moon and the fact the storm pulled a lot more water than usual out of the canal at low ride. The Indian, owned by Captain Ted Moulinier of Anglers Fishing Center, was one of these boats. When the tide came back in over the weekend late Saturday night it filled the Indian Up with water. She was swamped, then the ice moved in on top of the heavy snow load already in the boat. Captain Ted “She was stuck on the bottom after that last low tide,then she filled with a lot of heavy snow which did not help the situation. When the water came back in she didn’t release from the bottom and filled with water. It is heartbreaking to see this happen. We are taking a total loss according to the insurance company, she will be pulled today and retired.”
Captain Clarke Droney and his Tow Boat US Indian River crew met at the marina today and set up to float the Indian and pull her from the canal. The Walker Diving company from New Jersey came over with divers to assist in the salvage operation. I did not envy these boys getting into the water. Thankfully they have a warm water system that pumps water through an array of tubes to keep the diver warm in his wetsuit. The crews worked together to get lift bags and lines attached to the stern to raise the Indian and float her.
When I first arrived a small barge was there with a crane on it, I figured they are going to use that to help. Nope, that was setting up to be pulled from the water today. Unfortunately it was too heavy for the lift, and they had to look elsewhere for a pull. There were four other captains there today waiting to pull their boats. In the mean time the Breakwater, a Delaware Launch boat, came by to get pulled to fix her props from ice damage. It was a busy day at the marina, and since the whole town knew the Indian was being pulled today, there was quite the audience. It was almost like hanging out at the fish cleaning table in the summertime, almost.
The crews got the lift bags attached, and started pumping them up with air. I looked at Captain Clarke Droney and said so how is this going to work? “Well we have plan A, annnnnd, if that doesn’t work, well, you know how we do. On to plan B.” It took about twenty minutes for the lift bags to fill and then the Indian started to rise out of the water, ever so slowly, and then all at once she was clear of the water surface at the gunnels s and stern. The pump lines were put into the boat, and the crews cranked up the pumps. With two, three inch pumps rolling, the Indian was drained in about twenty minutes. The Tow Boat crew put down absorbent cloths to soak up the fuel and oil from the engine. They are made from the same material as the boom around the boat. This material will not absorb water, just chemicals, fuel, and oil. After that process, while it was draining, they closed up scupper holes with Nerf footballs. So now you have another use for Nerf footballs, they are a great way to seal holes in boats to pump them out.
Once the crew pumped out as much water as they could the Indian was floating. Now they just had to move her to the slip for the lift crane and they would be good to go. It took about twenty minutes to maneuver the boat by rope, hand, and a few pushes from one of the Tow Boats. The Indian made the slip, settled into the lift crane straps and she was lifted out of the slip, for the last time. Captain Ted pressure washed the hull to inspect it for damage and the crews called it a day.
Captain Ted “We are going to pull her and that will be it for the Indian. She has been a great boat but the loss is too much financially to recover her. The engine is most likely ruined due to the fact it is a Detroit diesel. One thing these engines (Detroit models only) can do is start up themselves when they hit water. If the batteries are above the starter, the water will make a connection on the starter, and fire up the engine. Then eventually the water is sucked in by the blowers and ruins the engine completely. Also the fact she was in the water so long the bearings are probably warped or shot from the stray electricity in the water. As much as I hate to do it we have to retire her, and call it a day. She has been a great boat for the past 28 years, an icon of Lewes. She will be missed by us and our customers.”
It was sad day in Lewes at the marina, but not all was a loss. Chris Huk managed to rescue a bushel of white legger crabs so he can go taug fishing before the next cold snap.