Sunday, October 28, 2012

Hurricane Sandy

So you know it's real when Friday morning the men begin to gather on the dock. They're pointing to the high buildings surrounding the basin, discussing which way the wind will clock, how high the storm surge should be. Then they begin pointing to their boats and the cleats and pilings around the basin. A plan is formed.

Next thing you know they've launched the dinghies and started weaving what looks like a giant macramé project. Lines are snaking back and forth between the boats and the docks opposite.

The issue for us is not the winds. We're only getting the edge of the storm and we're also surrounded by numerous high buildings which will block much of the strong winds. The issue is the storm surge - how high will it go?

The pilings on the Portsmouth municipal basins are not terribly high - we measured not quite 5 feet above MHW for the ones beside our boat. The ones on the other three sides are about a foot lower. The predictions for the area are for the surge to be 4 feet, not much leeway. The key is to ensure your boat stays tied to the dock while also not being damaged by the dock pilings. The worst case scenario is the surge bringing the boat above the pilings and the wind pushing you onto them. Big holes in the bottom of a boat are a bad thing.

These are the same pilings as above at the first high tide with Sandy's surge beginning. The next two tides will be even higher.

So we and the crews of the four sailboats sharing this square basin with us spent 2 days snaking lines back and forth across the basin to keep all the boats suspended a safe distance from the docks.

Friday we decided to take a walk to the grocery store for some final provisions. We estimated it was about 1.5 miles and knowing we'd be spending the next few days onboard thought the walk would feel good. What we didn't anticipate is the pouring rain that would come as we started back. A kind soul stopped to pick us up. "I saw you in the grocery store and knew you where on a boat," he said. Still deciding if that was an insult or compliment but appreciated his kindness nonetheless.

We've since had several folks stop by the boat to offer provisioning rides and to see if we were alright. Both the owners of Skipjack Nautical Wares and an ActiveCaptain user living in Portsmouth have even invited us to stay with them if things get bad.

The more I live this life the more I believe in the goodness of people.

Friday afternoon we heard the Navy had decided to send the ships in Norfolk out to sea to better weather the storm. I was below near dusk when the sky seemed to go black. Rushing above I saw a massive Navy ship passing us blocking the remaining sun.

By Saturday afternoon Jeff had snaked a final line across the basin and used our block-n-tackle to pull our anchor chain tight to a piling across the way. The boat is now too far from the dock for me to reach shore so I settled in for the duration. Dyna and Dylan settled in too but still remain in full storm watch mode.

There is a flock of ducks - or whatever you called a bunch of them - who have settled into the basin also. This reminds me of a saying I've heard to follow ducks in foul weather as they will seek the safest spot. I hope it is true!

We awoke this morning to a near high tide, noting the water was about a foot from the top of the shorter pilings across from us. We expect those to be under water for tomorrow morning's even higher tide. We have 2 more tides to watch. Tonight's around 9 and then the worst one tomorrow morning around 9:30. The second one will coincide with the wind pushing us towards the dock - not a good combination. We're counting on our lines and chain to hold us.

We have deployed every fender and line on the boat. The bimini is down. All loose items have been stowed or lashed down. The dinghy is in the water should we need to leave the boat. The larder is full and we have plenty of "puppy chow." And last time we checked we could still get the news on the TV.

We keep getting calls and emails asking us if we're in a good spot. We'll let you know on Tuesday.


Jim B said...

Thanks for the update. I know I'm not the only one who has been wondering about you guys.
Please keep us posted as much as you can and Good Luck!

Stephanie said...

We're thinking of you and praying for safety. Every once in a while, this boating life can suck, but later on you'll laugh about it! Hang in there!

Unknown said...

We are grateful to have an update. You have been in our thoughts and prayers and will continue so. We are in Slade Creek off Pungo River at anchor with 4 others. Two hour watches and 2 anchors holding well so far. Not quite what we expected for our 1st time but it is what it is! We will continue to think of you and the pups and know we'll catch up a bit farther south!!! :) Elaine & Kawrence S/V Elle & I