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Not just ice cubes: A day in the life of the OOD
July 23rd, 2012 @ 04:05 PM EST by admin

How the Mighty Storm King Saved the Day – and Three Boats

Those who think the OOD job is all about selling ice cubes and not much else, didn’t attend the C&C regatta this year. It was the most exciting OOD stint that I have ever done, and I’ve done a few.

Oh sure, I sold a lot of ice cubes and 60 cups of coffee and 20 muffins and I helped dock 15 C&C raceboats full of hyped-up sailors who had overdosed on adrenaline in a 29 knot breeze. I got to tell the DJ to turn down the Muzak. And I managed to re-sew about 12 feet of my ancient sailcover in the dull bits between races. But that’s all part of the OOD job.

Nobody fell in the water this time and nobody got stuck halfway up a mast and no boats got loose and the health and safety and environment committees didn’t get excited about some disaster or another. All in all, that was a great relief.

But this stint as OOD did have its share of the action. That started Saturday afternoon when Outport had an equipment malfunction while lowering his Zodiac dinghy. The dinghy came crashing down onto a bollard, putting a nice four-inch hole right through its fibreglass bottom. The bilge pump couldn’t keep up with the gush of incoming water so the owner started the motor and roared over to the Blue Crane where we lifted it out tout de suite, before it could sink. Henry Piersig did a masterful fibreglass repair next day, allowing Outport to leave for her trip up north on time, on budget. A good job well done.

But that wasn’t the end of it. Alibi‘s motor conked out as she was rounding the end of the far dock. The crew managed to reach out and grab Fire Escape‘s dock and hang on tight until help could come. Robin Eccles wanted to sail back to the dock, but the wind was flukey at best under the trees near HMCS York, so Storm King was dragged into action.

Storm King, of course, is the fine 1950s workboat that got sidelined when the big, brash Grand National came onto the scene about 15 years ago. She’s been sitting licking her wounds every since, getting a little dowdy as the years roll by, waiting for that new paint job that we keep promising her. But she’s a fine boat that loves to jump into action whenever someone needs a tow or a mooring buoy needs replacing.

I press-ganged Philip Stummer, an innocent crew member who just happened to be sitting around reading his book. We started Storm King‘s fine old side-valve engine and off we roared to Alibi‘s rescue with Philip manning the tow rope. That job didn’t take long for a boat as fine as Storm King. Alibi was soon home in her dock with a very relieved crew looking very happy. Except Robin, who missed his sail.

Storm King‘s next rescue of the day was even more exciting. The taxi-driver got an urgent radio call from Migrant II, saying his engine had died and he was drifting onto the rocks at Ontario Place – a lee shore with a stiff wind.

Now, technically, Storm King is not really supposed to go out of the basin. But this was an emergency with lives at risk and those lives were dues-paying members who couldn’t be spared. Besides, this was another exciting rescue for Storm King on an otherwise dull OOD day. So poor old Philip got press-ganged into action for the second time in an hour. We started Storm King’s motor and roared out the Gap to see what was up.

As it turned out, this was an Emergency – A REAL ONE. We spied Migrant II way over in the distance, a mere stone’s throw from the Ontario Place rocks, with a stiff onshore breeze, no anchor and no sails. That ain’t good.

We rammed Storm King up to its maximum of 2,000 rpm and blasted to the rescue at a warp speed of more than five knots with a fine moustache at the bow and a plume of steam coming out the exhaust. You could just feel Storm King enjoying her romp, like an old stallion let out of his barn for the first time in years with a cute young filly off in the middle distance.

As it turned out, Storm King‘s burst of energy was a very good thing. We reached Migrant II just 10 – ten – 10 feet from the rocks, with a very nervous owner leaning over the bow ready to fend off his boat. Philip threw a line, the owner tied one on and Storm King swung Migrant II‘s bow away from the rocks just in time. And then, like a proud lion who has caught its prey, Storm King pranced back to her dock with Migrant II towing gently behind.

Who says OOD duties are boring? Not this guy!

Oliver Bertin

PS: Lots of OOD stints are still available. Contact Bill Cook at or, better, check the calendar at the OOD station to chose a vacancy.

PPS: Storm King would love a new coat of paint. All budget contributions gratefully accepted. Hint!