Perfect Storm Sinks Two Boats

Jon Sibaila and John Schlag unload the pump from the FHA Emergency Preparedness trailer  
|  post by Jennifer Gennari, reporting by Jenny Stein  |  photos by Jenny Stein and Court Mast
Homeowners Tamara and Dennis Cotten watch Jon Sibaila and John Schlag unload hoses to pump out #62 Issaquah
Water creeps up to the windows, which will be covered by high tide
Early Friday a.m. the Coast Guard rescued Dianne Moyer from her anchor-out, off Liberty


A powerful storm with strong winds from an unusual direction spelled misfortune for two floating homes on Thursday, April 6. Overnight, at more than a five-foot tide, #62 Issaquah began taking on water and listing northward toward its neighbor. And Dianne Moyer awoke to three feet of water and the sinking of her anchor-out, beyond Liberty.

According to the Marin Independent Journal, 50 mph winds were recorded on Mount Tamalpais. This blast created five-foot waves from the south (instead of from the more protected and common westerly direction), rocking houseboats viciously. One resident on Issaquah had a wave crash through an open lower-level window, shutting it just in time before a second wave hit.

“The winds came from the southeast, and the waves built up as they crossed the Bay, and they slammed into our boat,” recounted Dennis Cotten of #62 Issaquah.

It was the worst he and his wife Tamara have ever seen, including gales in the 1990s. “We’ve lived here for 35 years and we’ve lived through many of these gale force winds—and they’ve caused some pretty serious problems before but I’ve never had our boat move the way it was moving yesterday,” said Tamara. “We’ve never had the wave action like that so it’s making the house move forward and backward—go way forward and way back—and jerk.”

Issaquah disaster

The couple, who sleep on the bottom floor, were awake around 11 pm as books started falling off the shelves. “Suddenly the house just listed, very violently, and you could hear crashing; you could hear glass breaking and things flying off shelves,” Tamara said. “All of our things were tipping over, everything was falling over. Our house is a huge mess. We have a shoe rack next to the front door and that got tipped over and all our shoes went flying.”

At midnight, the fire department came as well as neighbors to see if they could help. At one point their home was within three feet of #60, but when the hull filled with water, the boat righted itself. At noon on Friday as the tide began to recede, Jon Sibalia and John Schlag, two Issaquah CERTs, and TJ Nelsen, retrieved the FHA emergency pump to pump out water. Despite their best efforts, by nightfall Friday night the boat had refilled with water, indicating a likely breach in the hull. The Cottens who fortunately have insurance, have been staying at the Sausalito Christian Fellowship church where Tamara had been pastor.

“We were actually in the process of renting a house,” Tamara said. “We’ve been here for such a long time and we have limited storage, so we had decided to move out and go through our house and get rid of all the stuff we don’t need and redo our kitchen and redo everything. Something good will come out of it,” she added with a light laugh, “This kind of rushes the game a little for us.”

Larry Moyer’s old studio

By high tide Friday night, the Moyer anchor-out was floating again.  Although Dianne lost much in the storm, neighbors and friends have filled a cooler of food for her and Liberty Dock Rep Taylor Ray led the effort to collect funds for a generous gift card for Target.

It’s encouraging how much people here care about a neighbor many of them haven’t even met,” she said, noting that they also gave extra to Diver Doug, Michael, Mike, and Rob who worked all day Friday pumping the boat out. “And how much they care about the folks who worked tirelessly to help.”