When Disaster Strikes on Holiday, Remembering

by nonameharbor / Sep 18, 2009 / 2 comments


(Old) News Headline: Fourth of July killer tornadoes and powerful storm tides strike Lake Erie’s southern shore, causing death and destruction.

Mardi Gras Fourth of July Celebration, Fairport Harbor, Ohio

My legs scream as I slog through the heavy, waist-high lake water pushed onshore by fierce wind. Driving rain is blinding me. Lightening crosses the darkened sky, flickers on the ferris wheel on the beach, dead in the air, surreal, where people rock in the buckets, panicked. I can’t hear them scream above the din of the storm’s night opera. I dimly see Bill’s presence at my side, keeping pace. Ahead is Coromandel!, amazingly still on her trailer and attached to the Tbird, floating surely, slowly into Lake Erie. Bill reaches for the car door, opens it, drowns the car. A turmoil of water rushes in, sinking our car, anchoring the boat on its trailer. The scent of baked beans wafts past me. They were in a roaster pan on the back seat.

Mission accomplished, we are pushed ashore with the giant wind waves and crawl across the wet sand to our friend’s waiting car. Which happens to be a heavy limo. Reggie always buy limos for their family car with the window that separates boisterous kids from the driver in front. But our kids and Bill and I are hunkered down back there now, scared. The wind is still rocking the limo, us - four adults and three children inside. Steering around the raw power lines that are down, sparking, Reggie drives us up the hill into town. We stop at the first place open, a bar. Soaked to the skin we gather into a booth or two to plan our next move. Someone in the bar is feeding the juke box money to play one song again and again, These wheels keep on turnin, Proud Mary keeps on Burnin, Rollin, rollin…rollin on the river. Over caffeine drinks we all bend our heads to the table top and sleep. About 4 AM it is decided we will check on the boat and trailer in Lake Erie, see if the water pushed ashore by the wind has receded. The sky’s light show is still spectacular and the wind has abated to about 50 knots. Firefighters and police stop us short of entering the beach area. Magnificent old trees are uprooted in the city park, electric wires still burn on the ground, but we see those poor souls have been rescued from the ferris wheel. Back to the bar we go.

Later, when the next day dawns and the flood water recedes we are allowed to rescue Coromandel! This little 14 foot sailboat survived because of our deliberate sinking of the car to which she was attached. In retrospect  Bill and I realize we were foolish to venture into that turbulent water.

The car was towed to a garage and cleaned of baked beans, lake water and seaweed. In the coming years, it rusted uncommonly fast.


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Comments (2)

  • Dr. Jessie Voigts

    14 years 10 months ago

    barbary - i can't even imagine living through that - i am GLAD your boat was saved - and even gladder that you were all ok. 


    Jessie Voigts, PhD

    Publisher, wanderingeducators.com

  • Curt Martin

    14 years 10 months ago

    This short has a glimpse of the "you are there" feel as your Journey of the Snow Goose does: small boat to big boat - article to book. Thanx again Barbary!

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