|Satellite view of Sandy (photo: NOAA)|
Our marina slip is new, it was rebuilt only 3 or 4 years ago. It is surrounded by 8 stout pilings each about 8 feet tall, and it's oversize for our boat. A 33 foot long by 11 foot wide boat in a slip that's 50x18 has lots of room to rattle around in. And its sheltered from open water. All of these were considerations in our deciding to ride out the storm in the slip instead of going to a mooring, anchoring in even more sheltered water, or hauling the boat to endure the storm on dry land.
Our good friend David K. lives on his boat in the U.S. Virgin Islands and has survived numerous hurricanes. He warned us that it takes 4 days to have a hurricane: a day to get the boat ready, a day to have the storm, a day to rest, and then a day to put the boat back together - and that's only if there was no damage! He was right; there's a lot of work to be done to get the boat ready to weather a storm safely.
So, here's what we did to get Cindy ready for Sandy:
- Topped up the fuel and water
- Took off all the canvas - headsail, staysail, mainsail, dodger, and bimini - both to decrease the amount of windage we presented to the storm, and to protect the canvas from wear and damage
- Tied all the docklines to sturdy points, around stringers or pilings instead of cleats which could pop out of the dock boards under load
- Made docklines super-long so they could rise with storm surge if there should be any
- Doubled up all the docklines, with the second one slightly longer and heavier than the first. The theory was that if one broke under the load, there would be a backup already in place to take up the slack.
- Wrapped canvas chafe gear on the lines where they went through the chocks or tied to the dock. When we ran out of canvas, we used rubber hose and old t-shirts.
- Turned our boat in the slip, to point bow out for a quick getaway if necessary, which was also the direction of the strongest anticipated winds
- Centered ourselves up in the slip so we wouldn't rub against the pilings.
- Made sure our mast was offset from our neighbors, so when the wind got the boats to rockin' our rigs wouldn't tangle
- Moved our cars to high ground, away from trees and storm surge
- Charged everything that had a battery
Then we packed some food and books and our computers and prescription meds and passports and cellphones and their car chargers (and rum!) in an emergency bag and headed for the marina's lounge to ride out the storm. We'd ridden out 3 hurricanes aboard before this one, but something about Sandy's size made me uneasy.