Thursday, November 8, 2012

3-3 Hurricane Sandy

    Judy here- “So, where would YOU go in a hurricane?”  Nicki and Franz said that we could stay on their mooring, but being in a shallow creek and not knowing the conditions of other boats’ moorings, and having heard about what happened when other hurricanes had hit Cape May, we were not comfortable with that option.  They also suggested going north on Delaware Bay to the Cohansey River and either getting hauled or going far upriver to anchor and ride out the storm.  As Dick said, “Yeah, the Cohansey is great!  Nice and deep and if you drag, you just end up in the reeds, no damage to the boat!” We decided to see if we could get hauled….Nicki and Franz again came to the rescue and made arrangements for us to contact Don Burton, the Commodore for the Greenwich Yacht Club. He works at Hancock Harbor Marina and graciously made a reservation for us!  As all these arrangements were being made, we received a call from sister Deni saying that Dad had fallen and was in the hospital but seemed ok and was under observation.  Another thing to worry about!

     OK, so now to get there.  We were still in the rental car headed back to Cape May.  After some missed exits and some wrong turns, we got back to the area, found the ShopRite Supermarket (thank goodness for smart phones) and stocked up for the blow.  We finally got back to the boat and stowed our goodies.  We played with the GoPro cameras and put them on to charge. We also dealt with the starting battery.  The old one had died and had lots of residue in the battery box.  We were not sure if it was acid or residue from the cleaning of the transmission fluid flood last year.  We had picked up a new battery and wanted to install it, which we did, sans battery box. It was a very short night…we had to get up early to return the rental car, take the old battery to West Marine and get out of the creek before the tide got too low. 

     At 1040 Friday, October 26, we left the loaned dingy at the dock and headed out of the creek into the Cape May Canal.  When we got into Delaware Bay, we had a favorable current to go up to the Cohansey.  We motorsailed for a while, then the wind died. We arrived at the mouth of the Cohansey about 1700 hours (5 pm) and to the marina at about 1745.  The Cohansey River is an unexpected delight. The weather is lovely and the anticipated storm is only a far off thought as we motored up this winding waterway, slithering like a serpent through an endless marshland of reeds. About a few hundred feet wide, the water is deep and the current, forced to turn this way and that around the horseshoe bends, roils and ripples the surface. The view is primeval except for the cluster of masts we see up river. A few more twists and turns and the Hancock Harbor Marina (& Bait Box Restaurant) hoves into view.

We were met at the dock by Don and a couple others who quickly snubbed our lines in the ripping current.  We had a quiet night and planned to get hauled the next day.  We found out that cell service and internet were spotty….Don said that is why they like it here!  Heheh. (Don said we might be last, as most of the boats were coming out for the season and they didn’t want to block us in.)

     Saturday was a busy day.  (0830 that morning, Scott, the Marina owner says, “You’re next, The first boat isn’t ready and we need to get you in while we have enough water at the travel lift.”) We got hauled and put on stands and then our work began.  We took all the sails off before it got too windy.  We took everything off deck that we could and put it inside the boat.  Good thing I had built a shelf in the V-berth over the summer.  It gave us room for everything and we can still move around.  We attached all the halyards to the rail so they would not get chaffed.  Steph hauled me up the mizzen mast so I could tie the blades on the wind generator so it would not overheat in the expected high winds.  It got dark and cool, so we decided to finish any remaining stuff on Sunday. 

Sunday we secured the Crew Overboard pole and horseshoe and put the life raft in the cockpit.  Steph tied the boat down to the rebar stakes that were driven into the ground for our use. At high tide Sunday morning, the water was already in the boat storage area. We were ready for the storm (ready as we could be…spotty weather guesses put our homeport of Nyack in worse shape than us.)  Now, if we could just contact people to say we are ok!!!!  It started to rain around 1700 (5 pm) and the wind started to build.  We took the dodger down expecting high winds before morning.  We are plugged in to shore power, at least until the power goes out.  We watched a movie on the computer and decided to have a movie marathon until the power goes out.

As I write this, it is Monday, October 29 about 3 pm.  It has been rainy and windy all day.  So far the maximum gust has been 32kts.  We still have power. The forecast is for sustained 40-55 mph winds and gusts from 65-85 mph through tomorrow early afternoon.  It is chilly, pouring and getting windier!  All the camera batteries are charged and the computer is plugged in to be fully charged.  Our phones keep using their charge quickly as they are always looking for reception.

Steph here-  We are boat bound, with the random spatter of wind driven rain on deck above. In jackets and winter hats we are like Jonah in the whale. In the dim light, preserving our power for when the lines go dead. I’m alternating between crossword puzzles and “Snow Crash,” a novel on my kindle. The entertainment center lilting with classical guitar music and Sergeant Pepper CDs. Everything we really need is right here… it’s just a waiting game. The forecasts have the strongest winds overnight tonight and decreasing tomorrow. The astrological high tides (full moon effect) will heighten coastal flooding and the wind will clock around from north to the west and then south as the eye passes.  The Halloween tie-in is not lost on the media, dubbing this, “Frankenstorm” as the hurricane is supposed to combine with a storm coming from the west. All the forecasts we get with our limited wi-fi and smart phone service tell us that we are at ground zero (once again,) but Nyack, our home port on the Hudson is expected to get a serious hit.  While Judy’s Droid keeps chirping thoughts and prayers from our NBC family
and our blog and Facebook friends, it is they who will need the prayers in the coming hours.

Judy here—Hobie,our furry child, has cabin fever and had been running around all day, until we put his bed on the table and he is curled up next to his papa and mama.  He wants to go outside, but each time he gets to the top of the companionway and we open the hatch, the rain and wind get him and he changes his mind. Smart cat!  We put 5 gallon buckets in the cockpit to catch rainwater.  I wonder how much will get in them if it is raining sideways?

We are thinking about our family and friends and hoping for their safety. Many people are aboard boats.  Our friends at Nyack Boat Club didn’t have time to get their boats out of the water and the winds are supposed to be higher there with a higher storm surge.  We have friends who live near rivers and other bodies of water and we fervently hope everyone makes it through the storm safely and stays dry!

Steph here- Monday afternoon, 1600 The boat is being buffeted by the rising winds…talk about shivering your timbers!  I am anticipating the exponential force of the rising winds, predicted to peak here at two in the morning, to keep us awake all night. Forecasts call for 40 - 60kts with gusts around 80 kts. At about 1900, the winds howl softens and a look at the anemometer says down to 22 kts from the high thirties.  A couple of hours later it’s down to 11kts and shifting to the west. We realize we are in the hurricane’s eye.  Judy finds a radar view on her phone which confirms this.  The theory is that the south east quadrant of a cyclonic feature is the weakest. Ergo we may have gone through the worst of it.  Of course it’s only a theory, like gravity and evolution (sic.) There is still a lunar high tide and wind blowing up river instead of down to contend with.  Boats were made to be most stable on the water where the keel counterbalances pressure on the topsides, rig and masts. On static poppets (a funner term than jack stands;) on sodden marshland; in a place where no hurricane’s eye has passed in historic memory; it’s a crap shoot. 

     A Disney feature, “Prince of Persia” on the laptop, followed by a couple of episodes of “Weeds,” some hot soup and it’s mm’m good and to bed, perchance to sleep. The sound of rising winds and some vibration from the buffeting don’t keep me from a sound sleep, although Judy tells me the rock and rattle kept her awake………..Meanwhile, in the Lower Hudson Valley


    As far as we know, no one had died or been injured, but from the various networks, e-mails and phone calls, our home club, our summer home has suffered severe damage. Twenty or more boats have broken free of their mooring and gone ashore, gone aground or gone missing. These include Lou Spitz’s “Ripple Effect;” Jeff Levy’s wooden ketch “Green Heron;” Rich Gressle’s “Xin Hang” Commodore Vin Landers’ “Carte Blanche;” Larry Dolan’s “Colleen II;” Jon Carriel’s “Velut Luna;” Nick  Lemonis’ “Andiamo;” Vin Landers Jr.s’ “Idyllic;” Stephen Iser’s  “Sahara;” the Yanneli‘s “Standish;” The Shaw’s “Shaw Thing;” and others not yet reported.  Our good friends’ Dave Otterbein’s “Breakaway” and Morris Azar’s “Race Riot” both were knocked off their poppets at a marina up river by free boats washed ashore. They both had newly painted hulls.  We hope they have no more than a few scrapes.  Apparently many more boats have been damaged or lost. Our clubhouse has lost its porch (prime real estate, home of the Porch Pirates and the Rocking Chair fleet,) the floating docks messed up (Destroyed?) Some images I’ve gotten are “the banks of the Tappan Zee are lined with washed up boats” and “Boats were knocked off their stands at Petersen’s, Patsy’s and Stony Point Marinas.  So long as no one was lost or injured, we will survive, but for countless friends this is a true tragedy.

Bulletin..Just got off the phone with Lee Luce, editor of our club’s “Tell Tale,” and the picture is more grim than we had heard. The club will be posting photos and stories on its website, and hopefully individuals will post their stories and pictures on the Nyack Boat Club page on Facebook. The monthly meeting and annual election scheduled for Thursday will be moved to the Nyack Library as our clubhouse is unsafe.  There is no power in Nyack as we speak. ======Added later, At Commodore Quinn’s request, the photos should be considered private. Please consider the feelings of those whose loss is a personal tragedy.

     We also mourn the loss of the Hollywood star, H.M.S. Bounty, sunk off Cape Hatteress, the Graveyard of the Atlantic. Fourteen crew rescued but Captain and one mate missing or dead. Judy and I had sailed on her at the Rockland Bicentennial Parade of Tall Ships.  On a foggy drizzly day, the Captain encouraged every tourist on board to go “up and over.”  That is, climb the ratlines to the tops, through or around the lubber’s hole and back down to the deck on the other side. Many of us celebrants did just that, a special highlight of the trip.

     She was built for the title role in the Marlon Brando version of the historic event and scripted to be torched and sunk as per history. When Brando learned of the fiery fate of his co-star, he threatened to walk off the unfinished filming.  Needless to say, a body-double (miniature, no doubt,) played the part and she survived a few more decades till taken by the sea.

     It would be inaccurate to say our experience was a non-event, but our anticipation, anxiety, preparation and labor, (with a little shaking-up thrown in,) was insignificant compared to the fate of those we have heard from, and the millions of others whose lives have taken a sudden turn and will long remember HURRICANE SANDY the FRANKENSTORM.
The travellift at Hancock Harbor Marina

Bentaña getting a lift to her spot and being braced

Taking battens out of the main sail so it could be folded

Pre-Sandy astronomical high tide already over the banks

Bentaña all blocked and tied down

Sandy's potential track was actually a bit further south

Midnight winds....44.5 knots

The radar just after the eye went over us. We are right in the middle
where the orange person is.

Receding waters

Note the pilings which floated over to Nick's boat

Hobie learned how to get under the covers for security and warmth

The highest speed our wind instrument clocked..54.4 knots or about 60 mph

1 comment:

  1. Great narrative with alternating voices, suspense, kitty drama and a happy ending!