Day 21

7th November 2001

If I thought yesterday was bad it was nothing compared to today. Hurricane Noel was a kitten in comparison with this storm and there is no sign of it easing.

I didn’t get any sleep last night. It is so rough that moving around is not only difficult but dangerous. Even lying down is exhausting as you have to brace against every wave to prevent being thrown from the bunk.

The bridge offers the best seats in the house I’ve decided. From there you can see everything. The sea is streaked with foam, the sky is black and dangerous looking and the waves are enormous. It is such a spectacle that you forget to be frightened or concerned and just enjoy natures big show at it’s most wild. I had imagined what it must be like at sea in bad weather and seen pictures and films of heavy seas, but nothing had prepared me for this. Something that I hadn’t expected was the noise – the wind is literally howling, it is so very loud!

Despite this ridiculous weather, there was no break in routine for lunch. Baz served up soup to start as always. It was virtually impossible to eat. I had to hold the bowl with one hand, adjusting the position like a gyroscope to keep it upright relative to the ship and of course use the other hand to hold the spoon – but this left me no hands to hold on tight with. So I braced my knees up against the table, wedging myself in, allowing me to go hands free. Luckily there is a wooden frame around the table to stop everything sliding off and it worked well, but at some point the cupboard door flew open (it obviously hadn’t been fastened properly) and about 50 video cassettes flew across the room.

Hurricane Noel hitting the Canadian coast – Wunderground

7th November 2017

Diary entries for the 7th & 8th November were actually written retrospectively a few days later – It was literally impossible to sit and type at the time. I’ve edited them into their retrospective days so that you can follow ‘live’.

Sixteen years on there is more information available about that storm than there was to us at the time (we only had a faxed weather report and the gossip from other nearby vessels). When I was editing this post I thought I’d look online on the off chance that something was written about it. I didn’t really expect to find much, so was surprised when I found the following:

“The November 2001 Atlantic Canada storm complex was a powerful coastal storm that included the remnants of North Atlantic hurricanes Michelle and Noel. The low intensified as it moved westward into Atlantic Canada on November 6, reaching a minimum pressure of 946 mbars. The storm turned to the northeast and emerged into the Atlantic Ocean on November 8. It produced strong winds throughout Atlantic Canada, including gusts of up to 96 mph (155 km/h) at the Confederation Bridge (the highest ever recorded there) in Prince Edward Island. High waves caused damage along the coastlines, while high winds left up to 100,000 without power.” – Wikipedia

The storm’s low pressure popped out car windows, the gusts peeled the roof of a truck, and flipped over trailers. Storm surges flooded coastal roads, eroded causeways and closed bridges. Newspaper headlines of the time included ‘Fall storm creates havoc across Atlantic Canada’, ‘Atlantic Canadians batten down the hatches’ and ‘Thousands without power after storm rips Maritimes.’

***

Feel free to ask questions either by leaving a comment on the diary, replying to the email if you have subscribed, or on my Facebook page. I’d love to hear from you!

Thanks,

Ross

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