Last weekend’s storm may not have packed its forecasted punch, but it did trigger a chaotic afternoon along the Nicomekl River in South Surrey Friday, after a yacht from one of three marinas along the waterway broke away from its mooring.
Ari Vodopyanov, a director of the Mud Bay Yacht Club at Wards Marina, said the manned vessel – which he described as the largest at the Nico Wynd Marina – caused in excess of $20,000 damage to boats and sundry equipment by the time the ordeal was over.
“The bottom line is that they broke off their dock and went smashing into other stuff and smashing into the rocks,” Vodopyanov told Peace Arch News.
“Six boats were seriously damaged, four moorings/anchors were severed, a dinghy sunk and a man nearly drowned.”
Vodopyanov said the events unfolded between noon and 6 p.m. Friday (Oct. 14), after he noticed that the wind was starting to push a solar panel off of a sailboat that was anchored near his own.
Vodopyanov said after he rowed out to put the secure the panel, he saw the yacht had knocked three boats off their moorings. Its anchor pierced one vessel’s deck; its bowsprit entangled in another sailboat’s lines.
In the meantime, the storm tore another rig off its mooring, sending a large float and two rafted boats onto a grassy area of the dike.
After helping the owner of the grounded vessels, Vodopyanov said he helped untangle the yacht and suggested securing them to a nearby mooring to keep the vessel from running aground. The occupants declined, and as Vodopyanov was checking on the rig owner, he saw the yacht had beached.
He assisted the yacht back into the water, where it dropped anchor. While that was underway, according to Vodopyanov, the 73-year-old rig owner was thrown into the river when he rowed out in his dinghy to drop anchor for another vessel that beached after the yacht severed its line, and was swamped by a wave. Fortunately, the senior was wearing a lifejacket and was able to swim to shore.
During efforts to pull other boats off shore, the yacht severed more lines and again became grounded, said Vodopyanov.
Another boat owner, Robert Melynchuk, said his anchor chain was among those cut; he estimated that damage at $5,000.
“He went around the whole marina erratically,” Melynchuk said of the yacht.
Vodopyanov said while the Coast Guard was called, they weren’t needed.
The yacht owner, he said, reached out Monday to offer to sit down with those involved to talk about compensation for the damage.