05-27-2005, 03:12 PM
there's also this on this site
I'M LOOKING FOR WORK, NOT A HANDOUT
I just read the article in Latitude about the loss of my boat and want to make a few corrections. Water Witch, which was her original name, was a sloop rather than a ketch and was 44 feet long. She was designed by Phillip Rhodes for a Mr. Semour, and built by Martin Bros. in Mentor, Ohio, on the Great Lakes in 1950. She was a one-off and had a raised deck with a bronze centerboard.
I had spent a lot of time trying to find out her history, which old wood boats seem to have, without much success. Then four guys dressed in suits appeared at the yard in Port Townsend one Saturday looking at boats. They walked over to where I was working on the Witch and struck up a conversation. I told them where the boat had been built and by whom, and much to my surprise one of the guys said Mentor is where they were from also. I figured they were pulling my leg and said so. But he pulled out a Mentor Ohio Yacht Club card to prove the story. In turns out they were in Port Townsend for a wedding and were killing time by checking out the yards. Later, I received some info on the boat from them, so you never know.
In closing, I want to say that I'm not looking for any handout, but I am looking for work. I'm a graduate of the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding in Port Townsend, Class of 1985, and have been working in this trade ever since. I can do fine interior joinery to framing and planking, and am also a refrigeration mechanic, rigger and do most everything a boat would need. If someone out there needs this kind of expertise, my rates are quite reasonable.
At the moment, I'm working on the old brigantine Rendezvous at Moss Landing. This is the little ship that I believe you wrote about a few issues back, as she had chartered on the Bay for many years. Anyway, I'm putting in a bunch of planks. I can be reached at (831) 449-2974.
Port Townsend, Washington
[ 05-27-2005, 04:15 PM: Message edited by: John B ]
05-27-2005, 11:34 PM
More sad news from Latitude 38; here's the link (http://www.woodenboat-ubb.com/cgi-bin/UBB/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=reply;f=2;t=001724) to the article mentioned in the letter above.
Water Witch - 56-ft Wood Ketch
Classic Yacht Lost On Carmen
A reader who recently returned home from Mexico wrote the following as an introduction to Doug Tiffany's report on the tragic loss of his 56-ft classic wood ketch Water Witch at Isla Carmen in the Sea of Cortez:
"We first met Doug Tiffany and Water Witch while anchored at Isla Ballandra near La Paz. Tiffany and his ketch came in and left under sail, as his engine wasn't very strong at the time. Later he became our neighbor at the virtual marina along the La Paz waterfront. A retired professional shipwright, Tiffany had spent many years getting Water Witch prepared for cruising, and she was one of the best equipped cruising boats around. Tiffany was the perfect neighbor, too. He was always willing to lend a hand, and helped me up the mast of my boat many times. He also had a lot of tools and equipment, and was generous about loaning them out to others. His loss is a loss to all cruisers. What follows is the report Doug sent to his friends:
"At 3 a.m. on September 2, I lost my boat to the rocks lining the shore at La Lancha Bay, Isla Carmen, in the Sea of Cortez. The site is about 10 miles to the east of Loreto. I'd left La Paz a month earlier, and was slowly making my way north, enjoying each island in the chain. At that time of year the wind blows from the south, so when I anchored in La Lancha, I set the anchor for a southerly blow in 25 feet of water with good holding in a sandy bottom. A lovely lady named Luise Marchi, was with me, having joined the boat in La Paz. She'd spent about five years in the area 30 years before, so she knew it well. The reef at La Lancha was like an aquarium - the best we'd ever dove on. So we'd spent the day snorkeling in 80° water - a nice change from the 100+° on the boat. After dinner we played backgammon in the cockpit, at which time we noticed high-altitude clouds, with thunder and lightning, building to the north on the mainland side of Baja. We removed the awnings just in case the wind came up, and stayed awake to keep an eye on the weather.
"The wind started to blow at about 1 a.m. and increased in strength, swinging Water Witch 180° around and putting her on a lee shore. In addition, the seas started to form from the north, with nothing to interrupt their fetch. I had a 66-lb Bruce out with 7/16" chain - good, heavy tackle - and we didn't drag. Although it was pitch black except for when the lightning illuminated the sky, I had a good reference point on land. But the waves hitting the shore caused the water to shallow up - and the next thing I knew the boat was hitting the bottom. I started the motor and motored into deeper water, but with the strong winds, the bow kept being blown off to one side or the other. And with the anchor dug in, I couldn't motor further out. I didn't think of letting all the chain go and coming back to retrieve it later. When the wind shifted more to the northwest, it put us closer to the rocky shore. With the chain stretched all the way out and with the waves causing the boat to hobbyhorse, the keel finally made contact with the rocks. Once that happened it was all over. The starboard side was holed and water quickly poured into the boat.
"With the water coming in so fast, Luise and I weren't able to get much stuff from the interior of the boat. And with the waves rocking the boat back and forth, we had no choice but to get into the dinghy and go ashore, which is where we spent the night. We did manage to put out a Mayday on the VHF, as we knew some cruisers were in a bay close by. They arrived at first light and took us aboard, giving us food and coffee, and helping us assess the situation. But when it appeared that another storm was forming, we had to leave for a safer anchorage.
"The Mexican Navy arrived that afternoon with a really big panga, and we went back to work salvaging all we could from the deck - anchors, chain, liferaft, sails, dinghy, outboard, and so forth. Because of all the flotsam, we were unable to get much from Water Witch's interior. Eventually we got all the stuff we could salvage to the Baja shore, where I was able to put it into storage with a friend. The islands in the Sea of Cortez are federal parks, so the issue of potential pollution was a concern. I was, of course, responsible for my wreck, so with the help of the Harbormaster in Loreto, a salvor was located. I was able to sign the wreck over to him, which let me off the hook for any potential pollution. I must say that everybody - Mexican officials and citizens - bent over backwards to help. Everyone was simpatico to my situation, and nobody ever tried to rip me off.
"I'm still in shock over the loss and don't know what I'm going to do. I lost all my possessions in the wreck and had no insurance, so it's been a very big blow to me. At this point I think I'll try to find a boat headed south in December, or find work and try to get another boat. If I get another boat, it would be much smaller and simpler. One way or the other, I want to get back to cruising. So that's my story, and as they say, I'm sticking to it."
If any friends would like to reach Tiffany with condolences - and maybe a contribution to get him back on his feet - he can be reached by email.
And another letter to Latitude 38 with more details: (http://22.214.171.124/search?q=cache:F53b61NkGqAJ:www.latitude38.com/letters/200410.htm+Water+Witch&hl=en&ie=UTF-8)
THIS HAPPENED ON A DARK AND STORMY NIGHT
On August 25, Tonya and I, aboard our Prout 37 cat Amazing Grace, decided along with Dick and Judy on Corazon and Dave and Carolyn on Que Tal, to head up to Vee Cove on the north end of Isla Carmen in the Sea of Cortez. As the name indicates, it's a narrow but spectacular cove in which to anchor. Having a cat, we anchored furthest in, in 14 feet of water. I dove on the anchors before we took the dinghy to some caves for exploring.
After hosting the radio net that night, we sat on deck and watched the almost nightly show of lightning from the direction of the mainland. Normally these come from the east over toward the Baja side, but never quite arrive. Dick on Corazon said he thought this storm was moving our way. We agreed, but figured it would pass to the north of us. After a night swim, I was back on the boat again, when Dick again wondered if we should think about moving to a better spot. In retrospect, we should have left right then, but we all stayed up and watched the show.
By midnight we could pick the storm up on radar. We took all our sidescreens off and made other preparations, but we should have run out of that narrow cove. The storm hit us like a ton of bricks. The next five hours were like an E-Ticket ride combined with a nightmare. We didn't see more than 41 knots, but the real problem was the associated swells pouring right into the V-shaped cove, which caused them to stack up. We ran the engine for four hours, trying to keep some pressure off the anchor. Tonya watched the GPS like a hawk to make sure we were not dragging, but from time to time had to come up for air because the motion below was extreme. It was like being in a Maytag washer on full agitate!
Take my word for it, the best thing we could have had in a situation like that was great ground tackle - and lots of room. We didn't have the latter, as we were pinned, with cliffs on both sides and rocks just off our starboard transom. The waves were rolling into the cove and bouncing off the sides. At times, we were straight, sideways, and even backwards to the waves. I would steer with both the motor and the drive leg to try to keep us heading into the swell.
The wind started to abate at 4:30 a.m. and the swells backed off about 6:30 a.m. We'd made a mistake by not leaving, and could have lost our boat, but lucked out. Not so lucky was the 40-ft wood boat Water Witch out of Port Townsend with Doug and Louise aboard. At 2 a.m. they put out a Mayday, saying they were on the rocks about a mile from us and abandoning the classic yacht. Trapped and unable to raise our anchor in such a tight space, I radioed back that we'd respond as soon as we could, but it would be after first light.
At first light we upped anchor and went over to La Lancha to try to help. The best sight was seeing both Doug and Louise on top of the rocks looking all right. Water Witch, however, was on her side on a very rocky beach. Dick and I went ashore as another boat arrived and anchored. Que Tal was still behind, as they were having to deal with a dinghy that had been punctured in the storm. When Dick and I got ashore, we found both Doug and Louise cold and in some shock, but in reasonably good shape. We brought them out to Amazing Grace, where Tonya had coffee, dry clothes and hot soup.
Dick took Corazon offshore to try to make radio contact, as the mountains of the island were blocking communication to the Loreto area. Chris from Ventana went back to Water Witch with me to see if a salvage was feasible. But Water Witch was a 55-ft wooden boat, and all the planks and beams were busted on the starboard side. We gathered the easily removable items from deck and started running them back to the two boats. I brought Doug back to try to find his ship's papers, but we never could find them.
Several blasts from an air horn had us rushing back to Amazing Grace. Tonya said the immediate forecast called for more lightning storms and soon. We had to leave for a safer spot. As we were heading for Puerto Ballandra, we saw a 24-ft blue panga heading in the direction of the stricken Water Witch. We all figured that if we didn't get back to the wooden sloop soon, she'd be stripped of all her gear. Anchored at Ballandra, about 10 miles from Water Witch, we tried to assess the situation.
When the Mexican Navy showed up in the cove, we flagged them down. We did not know it at the time, but they had been radioed by the blue panga that we were worried about. Anyway, we explained our concerns, and they promptly offered to take some of us back to the boat to get more equipment. Doug, Dave from Que Tal, and I loaded the dinghy on the bow of the panga and we were off. Let me tell you, the Mexican Navy's new super pangas have two 200-hp outboards - and they move. In no time we were back at the site, where we tied to Water Witch. We got everything we could topside, but there was still a lot belowdecks. We removed all canvas, sails, anchors, the windvane and whatever tools we could. All the equipment was in super shape because Doug had done a six-year restoration and refit before sailing to Mexico.
After several hours, we headed back to Ballandra and put all the gear on the beach. Just after dark, we got a call from Two Can Play saying there were some locals on a panga looking for Doug and us. They came over and introduced themselves, and told us their normal landing on Isla Carmen was in the same cove as Water Witch's resting spot. Theirs was the blue panga we'd seen earlier in the day and had suspected was going to strip Water Witch. The lady in the panga was the head of the Nature Conservancy on Isla Carmen, and in charge of environmental studies. One of the gentlemen was the general manager of the local sportfishing fleet. It was they who alerted the Navy about Water Witch's trouble, and had instructed everyone else to keep clear so the salvage could proceed! They were friends, not thieves!
Initially we thought that Doug might be in deep doo-doo as there were about 20 gallons of diesel remaining in Watch Witch's tank. All the rest had been removed. The folks on the panga said "no problemo" - and asked how they could help! They offered to help salvage what they could and store it on the island for Doug. As it turned out, Doug donated some solar panels and a wind generator to them, and they were ecstatic. They offered to strip what they could of his personal belongings until he could go over and see what he wanted.
The attitude of both the Navy and the locals was beyond belief. Above all, they were concerned for Doug and Louise's loss, and for their well-being. Their next concern was to help mitigate the loss. After being down here almost three years, the more Mexicans we meet, the more amazed we are. They are truly warm and kind - as long as you don't put on some attitude.
The next day Dennis and Susan on Two Can Play, and Dick and Judi on Corazon picked up all the rest of the gear from Water Witch, and we all motored back to Puerto Escondido. Jim on Sparta already had several options for storage, and offers of places for Doug and Louise to stay. We all took turns unloading at the dinghy dock. Helping were Mike from La Otra, John from Pelican, Jim from Sparta, and others from the Hidden Port YC gang. They ferried all the gear by truck and van to a nearby safe storage spot. We then all exhaled and tried to relax, recover and reflect.
Doug is already thinking about how he can return to Mexico, perhaps on a smaller boat. He may have been knocked down, but he's back up and thinking about the future. Louise wants to continue cruising, and has another ride starting this fall in Central America.
In the midst of all of this we heard over the radio that our friend John of Why Not, a Gulfstar 50, had grounded in Candeleros, damaging the rudder and skeg. Fortunately, he was able to power off without more damage. All in all, it had been a nasty little storm!
Amazing Grace, Prout 37
Eureka / La Paz
Readers - Here's an unusual sidelight to the loss of Water Witch: On July 28, Doug Tiffany, owner of Water Witch, sent a letter to Steve Taylor, Secretary of the Cruising Club of America. He explained that back in the '70s he stopped by Sausalito where he visited the famous 33-ft engineless gaff cutter Stornoway that Al Petersen had singlehanded around the world from 1948-1952. For his achievement, Petersen was awarded the prestigious Blue Water Medal of the Cruising Club of America.
Tiffany went on to report that on his way to Mexico last year, he saw Stornoway again in Sausalito, but this time she was "a complete wreck," her bowsprit broken off and her port quarter stove in. He explained that having been told the boat was abandoned, he did something he would never normally do - he went aboard. Stornaway was a wreck inside also, but on the bulkhead was the Blue Water Medal from 1952! Tiffany, seeing the condition of the boat, and having befriended Petersen's widow Marjorie back in the '70s, decided to take the medal for safekeeping. His letter to Taylor was to explain that he'd taken it and to ask where he should send it.
Taylor forwarded Tiffany's letter to Bob Van Blaricom of Tiburon, who is the Chairman of the Blue Water Award Committee, and who had been a longtime friend of the Petersens. Van Blaricom responded that he was thrilled Tiffany had removed the medal, as Stornaway had sunk, then been raised only to be demolished at the Army Corps of Engineers in Sausalito. Dana Hayden, son of sailing legend Sterling Hayden, who had lived on Stornoway for several years, had gone looking through the debris for the medal - but was unable to find it because Tiffany had removed it.
On August 31, Tiffany wrote the following to Van Blaricom: "I'm afraid the Blue Water Medal is lost. Two days ago I lost my boat in a chubasco in the Sea of Cortez. The wind is from the south at this time of year, and I'd felt safe with the north exposure. But I was wrong. Water Witch would be salvageable, but I don't have the resources, so I stripped as much as I could with the help of the cruising community. I had no insurance, so I'll be licking my wounds for awhile."
To which Van Blaricom responded, "The missing medal is a trivial matter compared to the loss of your boat. Anyway, I'm sure Al Petersen, sitting up there on the edge of a cloud, would be pleased to see that his medal disappeared in a dramatic stormy wreck rather than in an ignominious demolition and burial in the county dump."
So if anybody snooping around the remains of Water Witch finds the Blue Water Medal, it would be totally cool if they sent it back to Van Blairicom, who lives at 679 Hawthorne Drive, Tiburon, 94920, and who can be reached at (415) 435-3488.
[ 05-28-2005, 12:36 AM: Message edited by: Keith Wilson ]
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