Arthur Clive Hamman celebrated his 71st birthday riding out Thursday’s storm aboard his hand-built vessel Nuthin Wrong in Halifax’s Northwest Arm.
The 16-metre sailboat had run aground back in November after a mooring chain broke but, after it was re-floated, Hamman and first mate Jesse Leblanc felt they had the boat as prepared as possible for the early-January tempest that lashed the area with high winds and precipitation.
Halifax saw mostly rain while other parts of the Maritimes saw snow and ice as well as the galeforce winds.
“No mariner’s happy with the forecast,” Hamman said Thursday before the bad weather hit. “We’re aboard and we can only do what we can do. At the end of the day, the wind’s the master.”
Hamman said they reinforced the mooring chain and had extra lines out.
“We’ve got extra chain and extra anchors and we’re ready to do what we need to do,” Hamman said.
“We look forward to the storm passing and coming ashore to celebrate. And I hope the rest of the people in Nova Scotia escape lightly, too, with this strong wind coming through.”
At about 3:45 in the afternoon, Hamman said they were feeling the effects of the winds.
“We’re dragging the anchor up the creek slowly,” he said. “We still seem to be OK.
“We’ve got this southeast wind for some more, then before midnight it’s supposed to swing around to the southwest and we’ll drag back down to where we were before. We’ll just have to see as we go, but the storm’s blowing pretty good now.”
He wasn’t worried about damage should the boat end up on the beach again,
saying it’s got a strong steel bottom. But if they end up grounded they may need a tow to refloat on Friday.
As of 5 p.m., Hamman said the boat was doing fine.
“Everything is as good as it possibly could be.”
Hamman is no stranger to bad weather and has confidence in Nuthin Wrong, despite questions as to her seaworthiness.
“I’ve just come from Panama, nearly 3,000 miles in 60 days, and we went through two other storms where two other sailboats sank and the boat was happy,” he said.
“Boats always have lists when you get to port after an ocean voyage and, of course, we had a leak in the main fuel tank, we had to carry our diesel in 50, threegallon jerry cans, so we had to compromise. (But) we had a fantastic crew and we pumped diesel every three hours and we raised Halifax. Now we’re dealing with repairing the fuel tanks and what needs to be done before the boat carries on. “(We’re) working very nicely with the people from the coast guard and we agree what has to be done to bring the boat back up to seaworthiness.”
Hamman built the ship himself in Fanny Bay, B.C., nearly 30 years ago.
“I took the lines from a 2,000-year-old ocean-going (Chinese) junk called a Hangchow Bay Trader,” he said.
The Nuthin Wrong has circumnavigated the globe twice, running as an international sail training vessel, according to a blog of the ship’s voyages.
“I’ve been in Halifax and Nova Scotia before,” Hamman said. “In spite of the weather, it’s a wonderful place and wonderful people and I’m happy to be back in Nova Scotia and particularly Halifax.”
Nuthin Wrong has been moored in the Arm since June and Hamman is looking for a spot to keep it for the winter.
The high winds for Thursday’s storm, predicted to peak in gusts to 140 kilometres an hour along some parts of the coast overnight, concerned the sailing community elsewhere as well, although most yacht clubs already had their boats out of the water for the winter season.
At the Dartmouth Yacht Club, general manager
Dan Gallina said they still have 30 boats that spend the winter in the water but they are well secured. They are also in the process of building a new clubhouse and made sure the contractors followed a heavyweather precaution list.
“We go through the yard and make sure that we collect anything that could possibly become a missile during the high winds and just generally batten down the hatches,” Gallina said.
“We asked all members to come in and check the status of boats and make sure that they are as secure as possible.”
The yacht club has a comprehensive disaster preparedness plan and measures in place, developed after hurricane Juan devastated the facility in 2003.
“We take all of this very seriously,” Gallina said.