The Catís Meow Sinking and Rescue~ Pt. 2



The Matamoros had to remain quite a distance from TCM, because of the shallow depths and rocks, which made the ability to pull her more difficult.


TCM and P117 Matamoros


A line approximately three inches thick was attached from the stern of The Catís Meow to the Matamoros. Navy men could be seen scurrying around the deck of the big ship, a huge winch-type of device on the bow of the Matamoros was used to tighten the line, and she gave a mighty pull, but the line broke. I believe this happened two more times, sending a moan of disappointment through the TCM rescue fleet. Then the Navy said they would bring out their ďspecial lineĒ, a thicker and hopefully stronger line, for one more pull. It took a long time to have this line arranged for the next big pull. It broke, almost immediately. Thankfully, Comandante Saldana did not pull up the anchor and leave, but actually asked for the assistance of the cruisers and their dinghies!


Cruisers help Matamoros to help TCM


The line was very heavy, and needed to be held up out of the water in order to keep it from getting too waterlogged before another pull. So, about 15 dinghies lined up along the length of the huge line, holding it over their pontoons, until the signal from the big Navy ship to drop the line into the Sea. Matamoros took up the slack, put the pedal to the metal, belched big puffs of very black smoke, and pulled on our boat.††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††

She finally began moving backward, faster and faster and she came off those rocks! A huge cheer went up, but it was short-lived. The Catís Meow spun slowly around, and began going down bow-first. I was panicked, standing on the deck of RDreamz, watching my home sinking. I was screaming to the Navy guys to get pumps working, fast! It was awful. Several cruiser dinghies and the Navy pangas rushed to TCM, attached lines, and began dragging her toward shallow water, at the inside of the cove. Cat House put a line on and got TCM into about 12 feet of water, with dinghies going ahead to scout for rocks and a safe place to put her down.


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The Catís Meow going down†††† †††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††Cat House pulls TCM to the shallows


The Navy actually pumped all of the diesel fuel out of our tanks, into the water. They were planned to empty the fuel tanks so they could be filled with air, sealed off, and act as flotation for the boat. Unfortunately, that didnít work, and about 500 gallons of diesel was dumped into the water. The good news was that it was not from a damaged fuel tank, the bad news of course was for the local area and for the divers Ė both from the Navy and the cruisers Ė who were in that water.

Terry, of the trimaran Manta, based in Pto. Escondido, dove and removed the stabilizer that had punched the hull and caused the sinking. Although he had tried to clear the path of the stabilizer before the Navy pulled TCM, the fin had evidently been wedged and was pushed up when the boat came free of the rocks. Another place near the bow was also moderately damaged, not quite going through the planking into the chain locker. (The Catís Meow is a wood-hulled boat, double planked with mahogany and very tightly fastened.)

At this point, The Catís Meow was at least stabilized, could not sink any more, and at dark everyone needed to return to their own boats, rest, and eat. Susan from Two Can Play organized a night-watch, with cruisers volunteering for two-hour stints to protect TCM from any one who might want to take advantage of her. What a wonderment: that someone would take on the organization of the watches, and that people tired from working all day would volunteer to provide protection for our boat.



Dinghies pushing TCM into better position†††††††††††††††††††††††††† Teamwork


More teamwork


The second day, boats appeared carrying plywood, nails and screws, food, barrels, and all types of materials to manage a rescue of our boat. Plywood was cut, using the top deck of Gusto and the skills of her captain, Matt, to make patches for the two damaged parts of the port hull. Terry ďdesignedĒ the patch of three layers, and divers from Two Can Play, RDreamz, EnDorphin, Wanderer, and probably others for whom I have no names all worked like horses in the diesel-water all day long to attach those patches and to prepare flotation. More plywood and screws were called for, and more brought down from Pto. Escondido.


Cutting the plywood on Gusto††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Divers placing the patch on the hull


Also during day 2, some of the women of our fleet went into action to provide food and water to the workers, including the Navy guys. Sandwiches were made, bottles of water and sodas were packed in ice, and the women went in dinghies around to all of the men and women who had been working, to feed and water them. The Dinghy Diner ladies were in full swing, providing breakfast, coffee, lunch, water, sodas, and dinner to everyone in the entire fleet, for the duration of the rescue work. They truly helped to keep the energy and spirits up throughout!



Dinghy Diner ladies at work††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† The Dinghy Diner in action


After one horrible night and two full days of work, The Catís Meow was still in grave danger of being lost.


Please continue on to Part 3: She Comes Up With the Sun!