Thursday, July 10, 2014

Arthur Aftermath

Even the town's dragon mascot got into the "pirate" act. (check out his hat!) My pix of the event are pretty skimpy, but friends Mike and Lori have more on their blog post of the festival.  

Local ghost walks tourguide Dale Mongomery (a.k.a. "Murderous Monty") told pirate stories for the kids -- tales of Blackbeard and Calico Jack, both of whom were active in this area -- and generously invited us to share the stage with him for an impromptu swordfighting demonstration.
Despite our frustration at having run from a statistical probability of hurricanes in Florida, and directly into the path of the first actual hurricane of the season, we pretty much skated on Arthur.  He came ashore near Beaufort (only about 20 miles from here, yikes!) as a Category 2, but was fast-moving, so that there wasn't a lot of damage or surge.  There were some tree branches down, and nuisance flooding; we found leaves in our cockpit a good 50 yards from the nearest tree, but all-in-all not too bad.  And the next day, the weather cleared out spectacularly for the town's fourth of July festival.

They call it "CroakerFest."  A "croaker," I learned, is a rather unprepossessing local fish, always drawn with fat lips, and not even in season yet.  But hey, they had to call their festival something, and several other likely candidate names from local agriculture, like strawberry festival and potato festival, were already claimed by other nearby towns.  I love that the town didn't take itself too seriously in designating their festival!

And this is one of the benefits of traveling slowly by boat.  We probably wouldn't have detoured to a small town festival when the glittering temptation of a bigger city display was available ... and we would have missed this sweet nostalgic family fourth.  There were all the traditional pieces -- a parade, beauty pageants, live music and dancing in the (closed) streets, horrible festival food, kids' play area, and of course fireworks.  Because Oriental is a sailing town there were also a few dinghy-sailing races, fun to watch from the shore.  The evening music was big-band swing of the 30s and 40s, and honestly, it looked like some of the players, and some of the dancers, were old enough to have enjoyed this music the first time it came around!  Fun for us was that the theme was "pirates" so we dressed up and told the kids that we were shipwrecked in Hurricane "Arrrgh-thur" and we were here to assemble a new crew and commandeer a new ship.

Then after the party, we went back to the ship we do have, or "treehouse" on the hard, high and dry and safe from the storm, but with no air conditioning or refrigeration since both need to be in the water in order to work.   The lack of refrigeration motivated us to a long-overdue fridge cleaning.  The weather was hot but not horrible, so the lack of a/c motivated us to sit outside and, unobstructed by the mechanical sounds of the canned air, enjoy a delightful concert of songbirds.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Awful Arthur? Angry Arthur? Annoying Arthur?

Hurricane Arthur getting ready to make landfall on the North Carolina coast as a Category 2
Okay, I'm seeing the irony here.  Really seeing the irony. Our boat insurance is invalid if we're south of the Georgia/Florida border during hurricane season, June 1 - November 1, because statistically that's where we are most likely to get big storms.  So we, and many many other US East Coast cruisers, make the trek north each summer in search of cooler weather and (hopefully) less storm risk.  We see how that turned out!

We've repeatedly said that we want to make the decision about where the boat was safest, and not rely on some guy sitting at at desk in the Midwest with actuarial tables, when we had the actual situation on the ground in front of us.  But for this summer it was a moot point, because we had planned to be in Oriental for some boat work and a chance to explore the Outer Banks, a place we hadn't been before.  And this would conveniently put us where the insurance company preferred; I don't mind doing what they want if it was what I wanted to do anyway.  But we hadn't really counted on Arthur coming along quite so soon.

We went through our standard drill to prepare the boat and packed our "bailout bag:"

  • passports and other documents
  • ship's papers
  • perscription meds
  • electronics and chargers (both 12V for the car and 110 for the motel)
  • flashlight
  • cash (in case power was out and credit cards wouldn't work)
  • computer and ipad
  • grandpa's fountain pen (a sentimental favorite)
  • toothbrush & clean t-shirt
  • small bottle of rum (this last earned me lots of snarky witty comments on Facebook, of course)

The day before, with the forecast worsening we decided to have the yard haul the boat onto dry land, and head for a motel, where we would meet up with friends who were also not staying on their boat for the storm.  And, give us a chance to luxuriate in endless hot water, one of our favorite simple pleasures of land-life.  The hotel was so well insulated that although they made us sign that we had been briefed on their hurricane evacuation procedures, we never even heard the wind during the night.  The eye passed about 20 miles from where the boat was stored, about 40 miles from the hotel.

I still need to back up and tell you about the rest of our trip north and a few good sea stories; about excess possessions, and having a car again.  We still need to get back to Oriental and make sure the boat did okay, although early news is that everything was fine, only about 3 feet of storm surge.  Our biggest worry was that large amounts of flooding, 6 feet or more, would float the boat right off the jackstands at the yard, to end up who knows where?  But for now, all is well, and Arthur was more "annoying" than "awful."  "Anticlimactic Arthur?"  Yeah, I can handle that!