Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Hurricane Season

Images of flooding at our marina, 5 years ago during Hurricane Isabel. Wonder what will happen this time?

It's an impossibly clear, gorgeous morning, and if we didn't know better, it would be hard to believe that we're expecting an unwelcome guest tomorrow - Hurricane or Tropical Storm Hanna. We're nervously watching NOAA and the storm track and hoping we don't have a repeat of Isabel 5 years ago. Along the docks, everywhere you see people frowning and drawing counterclockwise circles in the air as they talk. They are describing the direction of wind moving around the eye of the approaching storm and trying to decide how it will affect them.

We don't have quite the same worries as our friends who are in houses. We're not as concerned about flooding, for example, we just float up on the rising floodwaters. Nor are power outages a big deal - we're designed to be self-sufficient and make our own power. You couldn't very well run an extension cord to the middle of the Atlantic. On the other hand, if the folks in houses do it wrong, they or their furniture might get wet. If we do it wrong, we might sink!

One of our Caribbean liveaboard friends told us it takes four days to have a hurricane: a day to prepare your boat, a day to have the storm, a day to rest and recover, then a day to put everything back together. And that's if there's no damage!

Almost as soon as it was light, before the breeze came up, we took off the jib (forward) sail and the bimini (the canvas shade awning over the cockpit), both to decrease the area we expose to the wind, and to keep them from damage. We lashed the dinghy down on deck, topped up the water tanks and moved our cars to high ground. We packed our abandon-ship bag with computers, cell phone, cash, meds, a couple of energy bars, and water. Still working on the dock lines - for Isabel, we tied a spiderweb of 17 dock lines holding us in our slip against wind from any possible direction. They were extra-long so we could ride up on the storm surge. We went around the boat about every hour through the night, easing lines and making sure they didn't chafe through. In between times, we tried to read. I gave that up when I realized that I'd been staring at the same page for 45 minutes, and I had no idea what it said.
Our reward was that we ended up with no damage. But we proved our Caribbean friend's words true when we spent the entire next day sleeping, chatting, but not having the energy to put things back together until the day after!

Two more pictures from Isabel: our dock-neighbor Bill's boat at normal water level, and then in high water after surviving the storm. Hoping we all do as well this time!

Here's part of the spiderweb of lines holding us in place, as the waters started to rise:

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