La Niña captain recalls ‘devastating experience’ aboard ship as Sally moved in

Northwest Florida
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PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) — Capt. Stephen Sanger and his crew aboard the tall ship La Niña had a wild ride Wednesday as Hurricane Sally made its way over Pensacola.

Sanger said Friday he felt his ship, like many others at Palafox Pier, was secure to the wooden docks. But Hurricane Sally proved to be more powerful than he expected.

“The storm just shifted a lot more east at the last minute and kind of put the bullseye right over Pensacola,” he said.

When the dock at Palafox Pier was destroyed during Hurricane Sally, the Columbus-ship replica started drifting out in Pensacola Bay, the crew aboard had to do all it could to keep it afloat.

“We drifted out of the marina and threw an anchor. Luckily, it kind of diverted us away from the rocks, and then we got blown down here by the heavy swells and the winds and here we are,” he said, standing outside the La Niña in a cove near Blue Wahoos Stadium. “Luckily, we’re in the mud and not on a pile of rocks.”

La Niña suffered minor damage during what Sanger calls a “devastating experience.”

He commended his crew for a job well done — keeping the ship safe from worse damage.

“It was scary but you do what you have to do to save the ship,” he said. “The crew did an amazing job of staying on board and doing what they could to keep her afloat.”

Sanger is hopeful La Niña will sail again soon.

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