I’m back on the Oliver Hazard Perry for another semi-annual check up on the rigging. Last night as the ship was moving out of a dock in downtown Newport she got a line wrapped up in her propeller. The overloaded engine stopped. The captain gamely tried maneuvering between the closely spaced yachts with one engine, aiming to gain sea room or bump down on the commercial ship pier in the rising wind. It was difficult trying to get the bow into the wind and the OHP bumped into two yachts before moving away from them. And then, as the skipper was succeeding at getting the ship into open water, rather perversely, the other propeller sucked up a loose section of the same line that was caught in the first prop. Handcuffed, with no power any longer, he ordered the anchors dropped and slowed the ship’s drift until the crew got mooring lines out to nearby dock pilings. In all, there was minor (yet expensive) damage to four yachts.
The incident kicked off a media frenzy and the reporting has been a bit wild. Some reports went out that there was a person overboard; a crushed boat; a deck collapse, and that the ship was aground, none of which were true. It underscores to me that we are often reading fiction even though we sometimes believe it to be fact.
In the end no one was hurt. Kudos to the captain and crew for keeping a no win situation from becoming someone’s terrible loss.