Spirit Wind Charters
Wind Song

Tony & Susan McCanless ride out Hurricane Ivan aboard their sailboat in Pensacola. Scroll down for pictures.

Hurricane Ivan hit Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Alabama just west of Pensacola, Florida (The Panhandle) in the early hours of September 16, 2004. Tony and Susan McCanless were aboard their 30 foot EndeavourCat catamaran sailboat, Wind Song, in a slip at Pensacola Shipyard and Marine Complex (PSMC). There was a bow anchor set as well as several dock lines. The dinghy was removed and secured in the water beside Wind Song and tied to the boat and the dock. As Ivan approached shore, the wind shifted from an easterly direction to a southerly direction. The winds increased. Several boats at anchor in Bayou Chico dragged, one of which dragged across the bow anchor of Wind Song. (More here on this boat and why it dragged.)  This put more pressure on the dock lines. When Ivan came ashore and moved further north, the winds shifted again to a westerly direction and blew waves from the open bayou waters. Wind gusts have been reported to have been as high as 160 MPH (139 Knots) and the waves, even in this small and protected bayou, appeared to be at least six feet, maybe higher. Tony and Susan watched the wind blow water and spray from these waves completely covering boats. Some boats sank because the bilge pumps failed or couldn't keep up. Wind Song has a primary and backup bilge pump in each hull. Tony checked often to assure that the pumps were keeping up with the demand.

The westerly winds seemed to be the most fierce, possibly because of the added six to eight foot seas, and possibly due to tornados. With the wind from that direction, Wind Song's bow was to the wind. With her bow anchor no longer holding correctly, two dock lines popped allowing Wind Song to move back to the dock. The outboard engine rammed against the concrete piling. Sometime after 4:00 AM, during heavy rain and hurricane force winds, Tony and Susan came topside and rigged new lines and winched Wind Song away from the dock avoiding certain serious hull damage, possibly saving the boat entirely.

To rig the new dock lines, Tony and Susan donned foul weather gear and headed topside. Since muscle was necessary to winch Wind Song away from the dock during the heavy winds, Tony stayed at the winches on the boat with Susan doing the more dangerous work of going to the dock to attach new lines to the cleats. Along with her foul weather gear, she also wore a Personal Floatation Device (PFD) with an auto-inflate feature. A harness and tether was used to secure her to the boat and/or dock. She wore a dive mask because of the pelting, stinging rain. Three times the wind and motion of the boat knocked her feet out from under her. One of those three times, the tether was all that held her.

Here's a picture of Wind Song after the hurricane with the dinghy back in place on the arch. (The lines used to lash the sail cover down have also been removed.) Notice the concrete pilings in the foreground and on the other side of Wind Song. Due to the ten foot storm surge even in this bayou, the floating pier came within inches of coming off the top of the piling.

Other boats and marinas suffered serious damage. Many boats sank or were repeatedly slammed and crushed against other boats and docks. Because of the storm surge, many vessels ended up among the trees and houses. Click the links below to see more pictures. In Bayou Grande, the roof of a house was brought to near ground level. In Bahai Mar a boat house with four or five levels of stored boats was destroyed.

More pictures of PSMC (Pensacola Marine Complex was Wind Song's home at the time.)

View pictures of other marinas below.

Bahai Mar (less than one mile from PSMC & Wind Song)
Bayou Grande
Palafox (near downtown)
(Above links have pictures by Tony and Susan McCanless.)

Here's a PowerPoint Presentation (1.78 MB) with several pictures. (Author unknown.) Choose "Open" or "Run" to just view the file. After it opens, click on the slide/picture for the next slide.
If you need it, the Power Point 2003 Viewer lets you view presentations created by PowerPoint 97 or later

Here's a PDF file (548 KB) with several pictures. (Author unknown.) 

As long as the link is active, you can view a lot of pictures here:

As long as the link is active, you can view a satellite image here:



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