CAT'S MEOW - AGROUND AND FULL OF WATER

Mirador is anchored, along with 25 other boats, at Punta San Cosme, on the east coast of the Baja Peninsula where we are trying to save Cat's Meow.  She went aground Wednesday night about 2 AM after struggling with the 35 knot West winds that blow down out of the 4000 foot mountains that come right to the shore of this anchorage.   At this time, Sunday 11 AM MST, she is off the rock ledge and is resting upright on the bottom with water occasionally flowing over the side decks.    She is being held upright by seven anchors, including Mirador's FX55 and Bruce 44. 

Here is a picture of Cat's Meow just after Hurricane Ignacio brushed SW of Escondido on August 25, 2003.  Mirador was anchored about 50 yards from her during that crisis. 

You can read about  Ignacio at: Aug_24_2003 and Aug_26_2003

Cat's Mew is the 55' trawler that rescued 20 boats after Hurricane Marty devastated Puerto Escondido on September 21, 2003.  Martin and Robin, who have lived aboard Cat's Meow for many years here in the Escondido area, used their large powerful boat 15 hours a day for seven days after Marty to pull all the distressed boats out of the mangroves, off the rocks, and off the beach. 

Now it is our turn to help her!

The problems started around midnight Wednesday when Cat's Meow swung wildly from side to side while extending her all chain rode.  The winds are very gust and shifty almost every evening in these anchorages.  It is common here, at the foot of the mountains, to have less than five knot sustained winds at night with 35 knot gusts that last for 10 to 30 seconds.   The winds also shift 90 every couple of minutes for much of the night. 

Sometime after midnight Martin felt their keel touch either the bottom or a rock projecting up from the bottom.  He decided to pull up the anchor and move offshore since the winds diminish rapidly as you move out to sea (while this anchorage was getting 35+ knots Mirador felt less than five knots while anchored on an island 24 miles off shore). Raising the anchor was no problem since the winds were blowing offshore.  Somehow Martin became confused, there was no moon,  about the boats heading and turned her the wrong way and headed directly onto a rock ledge that is off a 50' high and 20 yard long rock about 100 yards off the beach.

The boat grounded hard on that ledge.  During the remainder of the night the three other sailboats and the other trawler that were in the anchorage tried to pull Cat's Meow off the rocks.  The only results were negative - RDreamz, a 50 foot steel sailboat, and Cat House, a 40' trawler, also ended up on the rocks but were both pulled off by the remaining two boats.   The dinghy hanging on davits off the stern of Cat House was punctured as Cat House was blown stern first into a cliff. 

At about 3 AM an emergency call was placed on VHF 16 with the hope of reaching Puerto Escondido, 14 miles NE of here.  Cat's Meow was heeled at 30 and listing seaward.  The tide was falling and would drop another 2 feet before hitting bottom.   Then on Thursday night ( there is only one five-foot tide cycle a day in this area during a new moon)  the tide would rise about 2 feet above the  level at which they grounded.   The thought was to get some big pumps aboard while the tide was low and pump her dry with the hope of floating her off on the next high tide.  Inspection from the inside of the boat showed no water entering thru any holes in the hull.

During the process of establishing communications with boats in Puerto Escondido the Mexican Navy vessel Matamoros responded and offered to steam six hours to offer assistance.  Their offer was gladly accepted and turned out to be very important. 

I did not arrive here until Friday mid-day so do not know exactly what happened on Thursday.  The bottom line is that the 250' Matamoros broke three 2" hawsers while trying to pull Cat's Meow off the rock ledge.  Eventually they used a 3" hawser and pulled the boat off the ledge into eight feet of water.  However, in doing so they tore the port stabilizer out of the hull which left a three foot square hole in the hull three feet below the water line.  Cat's Meow filled with water and settled to the bottom, about half submerged.

The Navy ship had a full machine shop on board along with skilled machinists.  During the night on Thursday and Friday morning they made fittings for the water and fuel tanks on Cat's Meow.  Using those fittings and their air compressors they evacuated the 1000 gallon diesel tank and the two 100 gallon water tanks and then filled the tanks with air. 

Cat's Meow floated free of the bottom to the cheers of the dozen or so boats that were here at the time.  Those cheers quickly turned to frowns and tears as the boat rolled onto her starboard side taking on a 40 list and a huge amount of new seawater.

The Navy then decided to attach 55 gallon drums to the hull with the idea of using them to refloat and stabilize the boat.

The 30 drums were brought to the scene on two power boats and a four-wheel drive truck.  The road to the beach is a single track dirt trail that wanders 25 miles thru the 3000' mountains between here and Puerto Escondido.

Mike from SV La Otra, Dick from SV Corozone , and Mike from SV Amazing Grace found four large self powered emergency pumps in La Paz and drove four hours over the mountains to Puerto Escondido where they were put on MV Laura Kay to be brought here.

The holes in the hull have been sealed with 1/2" plywood and 4200 caulk.  The rescue workers are now trying to attach more drums to the hull to float her even higher.  They are also trying to seal off all the scuppers along the main deck, 

Tomorrow morning at low tide (5 AM to 8AM) the plan is to refill Cat's Meow's water and diesel tanks with air.  If she floats free of the bottom and the main decks come clear of the water they will then use the three 2" and one 4" pumps to de-water the boat.  If that succeeds Cat's Meow will be towed to either Puerto Escondido or to La Paz. 

At this time the Mexican Navy is offering more assistance and Herme from SV Iwa, who is a native Spanish speaker, is negotiating with them as to the price for a tow to La Paz, 100 miles to the SE.  Their current offer do the tow is $14,695 (US $). La Paz is the closest location that can haul Cat's Meow out of the water for the extensive repairs that will be necessary.   Just now Martin told the Navy that another trawler will tow Cat's Meow to Puerto Escondido for temporary repairs after which she will be towed to La Paz.

I'll post more as the rescue effort continues.