Aurora Restoration Project Part 13
by Christopher Wilson - Published February 15 2016
It was almost time for her move. This would bring even more characters to the story very soon. But first we had to finish towing Jeff's 36ft boat up the delta to its new slip.
Nightfall was coming soon and we had only a short time to make it to the mouth of the delta. The winds were starting to slow and the water remained rough. Due to the current our tow speed was an average of four knots. The sun went down fast and the fog rolled in but we kept pushing forward although we couldn't see a thing.
We needed to be in Richmond the next morning to get ready to work with Indy's team for the tow of the Aurora. We towed his small boat all through the night with one problem after the next. Finally, at 4:30am we arrived after a rough night, to say the least. We placed his boat in its new slip and headed back down the channel Richmond bound. The trip back only took a few hours but as we came closer to the bay the waves became larger and more intense.
Finally, at 10am we arrived to find Indy waiting for us with his crew.
Indy had one of his ships hooked up to his tug ready to deliver to the new docks. We refueled the Whaler and followed him back up the delta. We were the assist boat. Now 36 hours of no sleep and we are traveling back into rough waters. The tow was going smoothly, but everything seems more tragic when you need sleep.
When we were 15 or so miles out from the location of the Aurora I decided to part ways with Indy and head to the Aurora to prepare lines and get her ready. I am now working on 40 hours of no sleep at this time. I arrived to find the Aurora floating away from the derelict vessel she was supposed to be tied to. She was hanging on by a small rope and I could see her other lines had been cut. I found this interesting. Who could have done this???
I was solo for the next half hour so I had to figure out a solution to reconnect the Aurora. I pushed her back into place with the help of Indy's Whaler but could not hook her back up without a second man. Jeff had stayed back on Indy's tug to get some rest, bad timing I guess. I held tight and waited. Finally, one of Indy's hands showed up and we prepared things the best we could prior to Indy passing us on the channel. Once he passed us were only 5 or 6 miles from the docks. We had to leave the Aurora to assist with docking his vessel first.
Indy's vessel was now docked and it was time to head back to the Aurora. I needed sleep badly. I was at 45 hours of no sleep at this time and it was getting dark outside again. We arrived at the Aurora and I still had control of the Whaler but decided to give it up in order to ride aboard the Aurora for this trip.
We tied her to Indy's tug and released all lines. Indy didn't have very good control and we came very close to the rocks on shore. I was a bit stressed to see the rocks getting closer and closer fast.
With some luck the Whaler showed up just in time and bailed us out. It was able to push us away from the rocks just enough to enter the main channel. The current working against us played a large role in the instability of the tow. Not to mention this was much like a Hotwheel trying to tow a Tonka We were now headed up the channel. If felt awesome to travel on the Aurora. I imagined her under her own power. I was tired but could still see the dream of what she could be one day again. Unfortunately, for now she was just a dead ship at this time with no lights or power.
A short while later we arrived near the docks but Indy had to flip the Aurora around to place her at the dock. The currents were strong and it wasn't working the way that Indy had intended. He made his first attempt at the dock. No luck, he missed the dock and crashed into some rotted piles thirty or so feet away from his mark. He made attempt after attempt for the next three or so hours before landing a successful attempt. But unfortunately it wasn't successful because the crew at the dock that were supposed to catch the lines wandered off.
A few more attempts led to crashing into everything possible, but then finally he had it. Everything aligned and we were in. All the lines were tied and I was both excited and very sleepy. 50 hours give or take with no rest. I quickly thanked everyone and went to bed in my cabin. Everyone else headed back to Richmond on Indy's tug. Jeff would drive his car out the next day.
Hours rolled by and I couldn't sleep. I rolled all over and could not get comfortable enough to sleep. The sun was due to come up soon but again I couldn't sleep. 8 a.m. rolled around to knocking on the ship.
I got out of bed and began getting dressed and looked outside to see nine Coast Guard on the dock.
I was a complete wreck, 55 or so hours to this point of no sleep and now this. I didn't know how to deal with Coast Guard let alone in my current condition.
I could sense something bad was about to happen. More later....