Brothers-in-Oysters: an epic Nor'easter Rescue

Airbnb, anyone?

But first: a little storm talk. 

A Nor'easter, or as we say in Boston, a "Nor'easta," is a macro-scale extratropical cyclone in the western North Atlantic Ocean. 

On the farm we don’t mind rain so much, unless it's a lot of rain, (then we get closed down due to the dangers of run-off). But wind is a whole lotta headache.

On the water, it whips up waves and storm surge. To protect our floating oyster houses, we move them out of open water into more sheltered areas. I've always taken our farm's float up the Blue Fish River. It's a fairly narrow winding river, and at the end our good friend DD has a house overlooking the marsh. To secure the float, I put out multiple anchor locations in all directions. A week ago, my anchor lines were tested with 50 plus mile an hour winds during a smaller nor'easter. 

But this recent storm was different. Getting sustained winds for an hour over 70 MPH and a 3-5 foot tidal surge was what took our float - Wizard of Oz style - and spun it right up onto DD's rock wall where it perched precariously. And there it wavered: airbnb, anyone? 

Now the fun part:

And like a volunteer fire squad: friends and other farmers appeared with jacks, blocks of wood, and ideas of how to return the float to the water. My friend Ronnie Koss and I set about on an adventure that lasted two days. 

(You may remember Ronnie from the caviar caper: he scuba'd to the bottom of the harbor and rescued a kilo of caviar. We're thinking rescue work may be something he might want to pursue professionally).


The first day, after my brother-in-law (also a farmer) and several friends and fellow brothers-in-oysters, pushed and maneuvered to no avail, Ronnie and I worked late into the night, inserting beams underneath the house so that the next day on the high tide we could shimmy it into the water without destroying the bottom.

It took three boats hauling, about 12 oyster farmers, and countless friends on land pushing, to set our oyster float afloat. Without the many hands, the magic wouldn't have happened. Farming is rife with daily emergencies and natural disasters, it's the tie that binds farmers together; very grateful my fellow brothers-in-farming had my back, and my float. 

Once the float was persuaded back into the river, Ronnie and I rode the outgoing tide out of the river and back to her mooring in the bay. Sometimes all the preparations still can’t hold back the awesome power of a Nor'easta! Until next time -



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