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  • Tim Tower

Catching Up, Winter Storms & 2024 Season Welcome

Greetings from BB Central. I  had planned to keep up with these Journal entries after we introduced the new website [Thank you, Jennifer Marble] at the beginning of the 2023 season. I fell short on that desire after I had a major cycling accident on June 5, 2023. In that crash, I broke seven vertebrae, eight ribs, my scapula (in five places), dislocated both ends of my shoulders and punctured both lungs. Three of the broken vertebrae were burst fractures where each were shattered in a number of pieces. In the process, there were other functional disabilities I incurred. In fact, I just mastered drinking down a glass of water only last month. I had to drink anything very carefully before that or it would go up my nose. Many things that you never expect happen when you have a major accident. I won't go into any of the other challenges here.

As a result, I spent two weeks in the hospital. After I got out it took me two more weeks to get back to work at the restaurants. I could only spend limited amounts of time when I was here. An hour at a time, at first. I had to wear a custom back brace. Most days I completed four hours of physical therapy as well. I was not allowed on the Bunny Clark (my deep sea fishing boat) until October 1st.  At that time I had to wear my brace and I was limited to lifting no more than 30 pounds. 

Survival, working to get better physically, and running two businesses were the most I could do to make my way through the season. Editing the Journal once a week was just a dream for me then. By December, I was able to take the brace off. But PT work was a way of life by then. I kept this up religiously through the winter.

By the time we had our first major winter storm on January 10, 2024 , my body was ready to defend the restaurants. The high tide in that storm wasn't particularly big but with the enormous amount of wind (gusts out of the east southeast of 60 plus mph), we had waves breaking over the parking lot and flooding of the street in front of the restaurant. Matt Pedersen, Micah Tower, Eric Littlefield and I spent four hours in that storm keeping the street drains clear of detritus and seaweed so that seawater wouldn't enter the building from the front.

Barnacle Billy's Restaurant: Barnacle Billy's parking lot as the waves are crashing over the sea wall in January 2024
A storm watcher in Barnacle Billy's parking lot as the waves are crashing over the sea wall - Jan. 10, 2024

In the meantime, we also had to monitor the dining room where water entered from underneath in the areas where we have the hatch ports cut into the floor. Because of the wind direction and the lower than normal high tide we were spared from any damage and had very little cleanup. Nor did we lose power.

We were blindsided by the next storm roaring up the coast and arriving at Perkins Cove on January 13, 2024. Unprecedented to have to have two storms so close together, this one arrived on an astronomically high moon tide. We were still able to keep the seawater from entering the front of the building as the waves crashed much higher over the parking lot. But this meant constant attention at the street drains. We could not leave these drains for a second in the three-hour time span that was the worst. This time, the water in the dining room rose two feet above the dining room floor. We had to open all the windows so the seawater had more area to enter and leave the building. We also had to move some items to higher ground so they wouldn't float around damaging the walls.  The wind reached peak gusts of 70 mph with seas measured at 26' every eleven seconds at the closest weather buoy, eight miles offshore.

Barnacle Billy's Restaurant: water leaving the dining room at Barnacle Billy's through the open floor ports during the second storm of Jan 13, 2024
water leaving the dining room at Barnacle Billy's through the open floor ports during the next storm of Jan 13, 2024

That January 13th storm was the worst of the four storms we had. We had a lot of clean-up to do afterward. The dining room floor had to be washed with fresh water, dried and then heated to prevent the floor tiles from curling up and freezing. I kept the heat on high in the building until all the tiles settled down back in place and everything was perfectly dry.

In the meantime, the coast to the north and east of us sustained historical damage. The front of our dunes on Ogunquit Beach were sheared off. At least ten homes on Moody Beach were so severely undermined that it is likely that these buildings will be unsalvageable. Many harbors down east are open to a strong east southeast wind. So many working waterfronts were damaged enough to significantly delay repairs at a very high cost to owners and fishermen. Some boats were lost. Severe flooding affected many residences and coastal businesses. We, on the other hand, never lost power and did not sustain structural damage. Had the wind been as strong from the northeast, we would have. 

The storm on March 8, 2024 was much like the first storm. Not as bad as January 13th but bad enough because it continued to wreak the same havoc that we saw in the previous two storms. The high tide wasn't exceptionally high which, thankfully, saved most residences. But it did put others in greater risk so they became condemned in the process. Big waves crashed over the parking lot in Perkins Cove again but not as much seawater was seen in the streets. Water did not come above the hatch ports in the dining room. Cleanup was minimal.   

Storm number four arrived on April 4, 2024. This featured wind from the northeast, our worst wind direction. But our high tide was as low as the moon phase allows so we had minimal water in the dining room of Barnacle Billy's. But, because the wind was from the northeast, we had more surge and sea foam blew into the dining room from around the floor hatches. Because we were to open two days later. We had the tables and chairs in the dining room. These had to be cleaned.

Sea water came over the parking lot for the fourth time during this storm. Again we were defending the restaurants by clearing street drains. At 10AM, I had to make a decision about whether we were going to open the restaurants at 11 AM on Friday. I decided to open on Saturday at 11 AM instead. The Cove had been closed off by the OPD, as it had been for the previous three storms. This time it closed out the employees we needed to prep for the opening. I just made sense to wait another day. Had it been a real nor'easter, it would have lasted another two days. Oddly, it sped off in a day like the earlier southeast storms. Strange. 

We sustained no physical damage through all four storms. We never lost power during any of them either. We were lucky. We did have quite a bit of clean-up. But we have a lot of clean-up from an ordinary winter. But what is an ordinary winter?

Opening Day 2024 at Barnacle Billy's

So here we are, open for the season again, daily, until 8 PM on October 27th. Barnacle Billy's, Etc. will be opening, daily again on May 2, 2024. We close Etc. on November 3, 2024 at 8PM.

I love this time of year as it seems that July is so very far away. Of course, it will be here sooner than I want. When July shows up, to me, it seems like the summer is already over. I guess it's my age showing here. But I love the whole season, the challenge of managing everyone, my family here, our employees and, of course, our valued patrons. 

Welcome back!


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