Hurricanes are dangerous. Video.
In 2010, we had a "near miss" from Hurricane Earl. It weakened before arriving, and we had a rainy night.
This year, we had Irene. It plowed right through Hampton Roads and could have charged right up the Bay. Lucky for us, it drifted off shore and we were spared the full hurricane force winds.
Red Ranger hurricane prep was pretty simple and seemed to work. This time.
Haul out. While more expensive than anchoring in a hurricane hole, it's also safer and simpler. We've read about anchoring during hurricanes. No, thank you.
Strike the Sails. The yankee and staysails were taken down, flaked, rolled, bagged and stowed below. The main and mizzen were lashed to their booms.
Deflate the Dinghy. And lash it down.
Clear the Decks. Remove dock lines, fenders and anything else not lashed down. One of the boatyard guys said, "Remove anything that could become a projectile."
Batten Down the Hatches. Actually, they just clamp them shut. The companionway hatchboards, however, do leak like sieves and can stand a little battening.
The marina tribe huddled up in the lounge. Tom brought a bunch of DVD's from his boat. We watched Pixar's Up. In French with English subtitles because most of the audience were French-speaking families.
Up is about adventuring. Here we were: adventurers waiting out a storm. How perfect!
The rain pounded down. The wind howled. Some of us slept on our boats. The family with the small children slept in the lounge.
Our barometer fell to about 980 mb (28.94 in.); the storm center was 950 mb (28.05 in.). Wind gusts at the data buoy seem to be in the 40‘s. Surge was only about five feet. So, we were a safe distance from the eye.
We're not Alone. We had support in the marina lounge. As with the Tornado, back in April, we have comfort and help right near by.
When we bought the boat, we also bought into the owner's association. Some of our Whitby contacts are Facebook friends and we spent the night posting status and getting our questions answered. It was a great comfort.
Little by Little. We've had our gentle introduction to hurricane preparation. We had a safe creek, plenty of time, a hurricane that only hit us with its tropical storm force winds (not the full hurricane force), and a skilled boatyard. We got emails from our insurance company, Practical Sailor and Boat US coaching us on what to do.
We Had Damage. But not from the hurricane. On Day 4 of our Delmarva Circumnavigation, our propellor ate a crab pot. That day (as well as day 8 and day 10) we bashed our rudder with the crab pot line. The hurricane haulout gave us a good look at the damage.
It's not fatal. It needs a splash of paint. And next year, possibly, some more complete TLC.
I suspect that after spending good money to have our rudder trued up, we've gone and bent it.
We Have Leaks. We found five leaks.
When Red Ranger is on the hard—not on her proper lines—the cover to the on-deck beer cooler drains into the cooler and into the bilge. The pump cycled almost 40 times over the 24 or more hours of serious rain. There's no real solution for this. Maybe we can tape a garbage bag over the cooler cover so water goes into the cockpit instead of into the locker.
The aft cabin dorade vent exists merely to plague me. A dorade vent box has a cowl (to the outside), an air vent (to the inside), two baffles (to prevent water from moving from cowl to vent) and limber holes (to let the water run out). The air vent is correctly bedded in the aft cabin roof: it has one of the baffles and doesn't leak. Somehow, water is migrating from cowl to vent. Recently, I rebedded the ring into which the cowl is screwed. During the hurricane, something still leaked. I think I have a solution. Details below.
Over the chart table, one of the handles had a slow weep. That's a problem best solved by liberal application of Captain Tolley's Creeping Crack Cure. It has worked on other slow weeps through the wooden handles. We don't know if it's solved yet, but it's easy to keep applying it until the next hurricane.
Next to the main companionway hatch, a disused electrical fitting was dripping like crazy. It had never leaked before. Never. I stuffed a plastic shopping bag down into the hole, which stopped the dripping. On Sunday, I applied Marine Tex. This will never leak again. Never.
Somewhere in or near the locker where we keep our gasoline and oil (the "hazmat locker") we have a pernicious leak that runs down between teak interior and the fiberglass structure.
To Do List.
I've tried adding a piece of water bottle (cut up and held in with hose clamps) to act as a proper baffle on the Dorade. We'll see how well that works. If that doesn't do it, I have another plan that uses a cut-up gallon jug and some screws to make a bigger baffle.
Continue to study the hazmat locker leak. This is an ongoing situation. The locker used to be very damp. We've applied a bead of silicone around the woodwork, and changed the gaskets (twice). During normal rain, now, the contents stay dry. However, the hurricane was able to force water into some still unsealed crevice.
Get some good, general-audience DVD's for the children stuck in the lounge.
For a group of adventurers, stuck in a marina, with nowhere else to go, Up was the most perfect movie possible. Tom warned us that the first six minutes or so where very weepy. He was right. The "dream deferred" prologue story was poignant. It made me take careful notes on the people who were waiting out this hurricane throughout the cruising community.
How many of us are Carl Fredricksen, dragging our floating homes around with us, looking for Paradise Falls?