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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

"A long Tale"

"A Tale Of Two Anchors"

Well I drove by this boat at dock in St. John's harbour yesterday. Hurricane Igor was unleashing it's wrath on our city, our province. The anchor looked peculiar not because it wasn't hauled all the way in but because it looked like it had another anchor on it. This is the bow of a Portuguese fishing trawler. Four of them were docked this day weathering out the storm I suspected. They are big boats, what we call factory ships where fish is caught and processed all on the boat. No returning to fish plants in Portugal to unload catches. There has always been s slight bit of animosity I think since the cod moratorium was imposed on Newfoundlanders some years ago yet these boats can fish just outside the 200 mile limit around our coast and catch the cod. Known for also darting inside it and back out. Several captains have been fined over the years but they show no shame. This is all another story.

I took the picture just because it was unusual to see the anchor(s) like that. And went on my way. But I knew there was probably a story there I would never hear of.

I received a phone call at about 8pm that evening as some of the storm had relented. It was my nephew who landed in St. John's for a crew change of the Coast Guard boat he is on and waiting to fly out the next day. He said they were holed up at a hotel downtown drinking, playing guitars and having what sounded like lots of fun. Come on down Uncle Stan he said. So I did. They were all in full swing when I arrived and singing that song "Rock Me Baby Like A  Wagon Wheel" at the top of their lungs. What a time. I mentioned to Greg about the Portuguese boats in the harbour. He asked if I saw the anchor of one of them holding another anchor. I said well what a coincidence as I took a picture of it earlier in the day.

He said that boat was entering the harbour the night before and he was up in the wheel house of the Coast Guard Boat he was on when it was refused entry because there was no pilot boat to bring it in. They were to wait for daylight in the bay the next day. The captain fearing the weather of Igor the next day refused to comply. He said he was coming in. He felt responsible for his crew he said. The boat was still told not to enter the harbour. He came in with his boat anyway. When he tried to dock at the wharf Ocean Harbour security met them and refused them a tie up birth and told them to anchor in the harbour because they did not comply with the demands made by the Coast Guard earlier. This boat apparently, as a second hand story goes, had a bit of a rowdy crew last time visiting St. John's. Very second hand stuff. However, the Portuguese boat did anchor in the harbour that evening and the next day as Igor was nearing St. John's they were allowed to pull anchor and dock and face whatever repercussions of their evening decisions may have landed them.

So when they were hauling up their anchor from the harbour they snagged another anchor that was on the bottom where they had spent the night. I knew there was a story there. I never in a million years thought I'd get to hear it though. The neat thing is, Portuguese sailors use to often frequent St. John's years ago when the ships were made of wood and under sail and plenty of cod for everyone. Who knows? They may have even hauled up an anchor from one of those old ships that may even have belonged to an old Portuguese fishing boat from years past. Now what a coincidence that would be. I wonder though, only because my nephew called me down for a good by sing along before they flew home to Nova Scotia. A picture, as I always have felt, has a story and at least a thousand words to go along with it. I was tickled to have heard the whole story when at one point during the day I was just wondering like crazy how that other anchor got caught in the main one hanging from the bow.

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