Well, I thought we were gonna make it through the season without this. But, here it is anyway. Hurricane Sandy is headed this way.
This will about my 9th hurricane that I can remember, 4 of which were “major” storms. And my second one on a boat. This time in a different marina in a different location.
|Current Model Predictions|
I try reading the news predictions and reports but it’s difficult when they use words like “superstorm” or “frankenstorm”. Fear Mongers! them all. The fact is, when the computers generate the models, they focus on one or two tracks that will cause the greatest damage and report on it as if it were the only model.
I mainly stick to NOAA and sites like Wunderground that just report the facts about weather. Then it’s entirely up to me to create a prediction and decide what steps to take.
The biggest issue is always the storm surge, and unfortunately, they really can’t predict that very well. In fact, just try googling a storm surge prediction. The only ones reporting it will be those sources that capitalize on fear. The surge is strongest at the front end of the storm. Most storms that hit the East coast make landfall at an angle heading in a north-northwest type of direction. This one, however, is planning to turn directly west before making landfall which can potentially cause a much larger surge. As a storm turns, the area’s of strongest wind change. A storm travelling north has the strongest winds on the right, or east side and over the top, or foreward end of the storm. As it turns West, the whole thing rotates counter clockwise, making the strongest winds on the north side and the ‘front’ of the storm on the west. The surge in turn, is greatest on the west side instead of the north.
|Sandy Off Florida|
Now, 70 mile an hour winds are not something to take lightly. Somewhere between 60 and 70 is that point where it becomes it really difficult to stand up and maintain secure footing. A 60 mile an hour gust can take an unprepared person right off a dock, or worse, off the deck of a boat. That’s just pure wind. When you take into account flying debris, horizontal torrential rains and flooding, things can get downright dangerous in a tropical storm. Just because buildings aren’t coming down, like they do in a cat 3, doesn’t mean you’re gonna be ‘safe’.
So, my theory is it’s better to be safe than sorry. Hurricane prep on a boat is the same whether it’s a cat 1 or a cat 5. You do everything you can to ensure the safety of your boat BEFORE the storm hits. Then, if the prediction is bad enough, or the situation doesn’t appear manageable, you get the hell off the boat.
So that’s where I’m at right now. Should I stay or should I go? We did pretty well last year during hurricane Irene. But, that was a different storm and a different location. No two hurricanes are alike. Ever. I’ve finished most the prep. I still need to take down the dodger and double up the docklines. Doubling the docklines is not as simple as it sounds. This boat only has one cleat on the bow and it’s already got 3 lines attached to it. How do you double that up? The two aft cleats can be doubled, but it’s still pretty iffy when you’re line wraps are larger than the cleat itself. Last year I tied a few lines to the base of the mast, and I think that worked well. The only other issue is that this dock has a finger pier on one side, then a boat on the other with a single piling in between us. Tying off to a piling is a tricky thing in a storm. The line needs to be tight enough to keep the boat from hitting the opposite dock, but it has to be loose enough to account for the flood and surge. Otherwise it could sink your boat if the water gets too high and it pulls the gunnels below the waves. Or, if you tie it too high and the water level drops enough, you’re putting vertical strain on the cleat (or fairlead) and it could pull the hardware right out. and damage the boat. The proper course of action on a fixed dock or piling is to stay aware of it and let line out/in as needed. But if you leave the boat, you can’t do that.
So anyway, I’ll work out the docklines this afternoon when I see the low tide. It’s high tide right now and the fixed walking pier, the one that connects all the floating piers to the actual marina and parking lot, is about 3 feet from being underwater. That’s normal for a very high tide. But, when that surge comes in during tomorrow nights high tide and landfall, I have a feeling the walking pier will be unwalkable and I’ll be cut-off from land until monday night, or whenever the flooding subsides. That’s my biggest concern right now. If I stay, I’ll have nowhere to go if anything bad happens… Even if I could make it to the parking lot, the lot will be underwater and the road leading out along the beach will be underwater too. I’d like to leave, but I can’t stand the idea of the boat breaking free or sinking by some cause that I could have prevented if I were there. This boat is both my house and everything I own. The insurance would barely cover the cost of my personal belongings let alone a new place to live.
Currently, the wind is gusting around 25mph, no rain, and a very high tide. If the current projected track stays true, which it has been so far, I should be sitting on the ‘good’ side of the storm, that is, the left and lower left sides, as the storm moves inland above the northern part of the Chesapeake on Sunday. I’ll still be expecting sustained winds above 50 and gusts anywhere up to 80+. Current gusts are above 75, but like I said, it could build as it turns inland… There’s also still a chance it won’t even turn inland. I’d like to think it’ll try to follow the warm waters of the Gulf Stream out to sea. But, it’s hard to deny the projected track when it’s be very accurate so far. There’s also a massive cold front that will push against the storm tonight and could potentially slow it down or diminish it greatly.
So, for right now, my decision is to stay on the boat. Actually, I don’t even know where I would go if I did leave. But, I have plenty of food and water and atleast enough battery power to keep the lights on and use the computer occasionally for the next 3 days.
I’m gonna hope that I’m smarter than the Fake News channels and I predict that Sandy will diminish greatly because of this cold front. And it’ll either TRY to follow the Gulf Stream out to sea or make landfall further north than most places are predicting.
All I gotta do is keep her floating and keep the water out. But it’s gonna be a long weekend…