This 42-foot long Ketch drew a small but curious crowd of visitors to Cadboro Bay Tuesday morning. The vessel washed up on Saanich’s side of Cadboro Bay Monday afternoon. Wolf Depner/News Staff

Ship stranded in Saanich’s Caddy Bay back in the water

Owner one day hopes to sail down to Mexico or the Galápagos Islands

Ross Griffin has big plans for his 42-foot Ketch Norsulyn.

“At some point, I would like to take it down to Mexico, and maybe the Galápagos Islands, that sort of thing,” he said, in between taking puffs from a cigarette. “It’s meant for that sort of thing, and I’m sure it can handle it.”

For now, the Galápagos Islands remain a long way away. But Griffin can at least dream about them again after crews towed the Norsulyn back into the water Wednesday afternoon.

For almost two days, it floundered in the wind-pitched surf that has been battering Cadboro Bay and other parts of Saanich’s shoreline for days after one of its two anchor chains broke.

“Why did the anchor chain break? ” he asked. “The jib [front sail] came loose. Something happened to it. We haven’t really had a chance to examine why that happened [and] the other anchor wasn’t really set up to hold up against the weather we have had. It wasn’t meant to be a storm anchor.”

An Esquimalt resident, Griffins found out about the fate of his boat Monday afternoon, and hoped that Tuesday would bring a turn in fortune, but those expectations suffered a setback when he heard that water had entered his vessel, thereby making it unsafe to tow out to sea. But a break in the weather also turned out to be a break for Griffin.

Since he purchased the vessel six years ago, he has anchored it and moored “all over place.” It arrived in Cadboro Bay three months ago from Pender Island.

Speaking with Saanich News Tuesday afternoon, he took a pragmatic view of what had happened to his vessel. “Whatever it is, we will figure it out, and deal with it. It’s got to be dealt with.”

Monday’s wash-up marks the second time in a week that Saanich had to deal with a boat in distress.

Winter storms have in years past deposited dozens of boats on both the Oak Bay and Saanich side of the beach.

Almost exactly a year ago Saanich removed a 25-foot fibreglass boat from the beach and last month, a coalition of volunteers and community groups removed several abandoned boats from the Oak Bay side of the beach with provincial support following a stalled clean-up effort and jurisdictional wranglings.

The issue of abandoned and derelict boats has long vexed local as well as federal officials, not to mention neighbourhood residents.

“The larger lesson is that Cordova Bay remains the Wild West of boat mooring,” said Eric Dahli, president of the Cadboro Bay Residents Association. “We need to put together a plan with all the players to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”

Griffin’s concerns, meanwhile, are more immediate. As the Norsulyn sat on the beach for nearly 48 hours, spray filled portions of it with water, likely leaving behind considerable interior damage. Griffin will also have to fix the jib in addition to any other repairs.

As Griffin and a friend waited to find out whether the Norsulyn could get off the beach, strong winds and rains whipped across the deserted beach Tuesday afternoon. His weather-tanned face and yellow slicks leave little doubt that he has seen more than his fair share of such days during his 50-plus years of sailing.

“You never know what you are going to get for weather,” he said. “Sometimes it rains, sometimes it’s sunny, and today, it just decided not to be sunny.”

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