It must have just been good fortune. I arrived in Oriental on August 30, settled into my slip at Oriental Yacht Harbor, spent much of Sunday, September 1st with Karl and Lucy Lichty on Lu Sea
, and got to listen to jazz and even sit in. It was a propitious start to my stay in Oriental, but even greater fortune brought me new friends and a tropical storm. It must have been magic.
But for now, tropical storm Hanna
. I think the first news of an impending hurricane event came on Tuesday, September 2nd. In the next four days tension and excitement began to build, although one would have hardly known a storm was coming and the sunsets were gorgeous.
Boat owners who had been here for a long time had plans already laid. Several in my marina decided to move their boats to hurricane holes. John Standley, captain of the s/v Bounty
, a 36' double-ender and who had been in Oriental for a year, made arrangements to take his boat to River Dunes
, a new and protected marina, and suggested I might do the same.
John wasn't so worried about Hanna
, but we were looking at three hurricanes on the horizon. Ike
was just east of the Bahamas and a few days behind it was Josephine
. On Wednesday it looked like both might track right up the eastern seaboard, following Hanna. But then Hanna
stalled southeast of Florida, and Josephine
began tracking northeast into the center of the Atlantic.
On Thursday, Hanna
started moving toward the southeastern U.S. coast and the track showed her making landfall somewhere in South Carolina and then moving up through North Carolina, probably 50 miles inland from Oriental. She might be a category one hurricane (70+ mph winds), but maybe just a tropical storm (50-60 mph winds), but she could dump a lot of water and that could bring a tidal surge of three to five feet, maybe over the docks. Even more worrisome,
John thought Ike
was probably coming right behind her.
The problem, of course, is everyone I spoke with had a different take on it, and there were numerous different plans for securing boats, moving them, and so forth. Sure Ike
was a concern, and by Thursday most people, including my harbormaster, Ross, thought Hanna
would just be a tropical storm, and he thought I'd be fine in the harbor - just double up lines on the windward (eastern) side of the boat and put out good fenders on the leeward side.
While I mulled this over on Thursday morning, I decided to check out River Dunes. I followed John who wanted to leave his car and have a ride back to take his boat up that afternoon. On the way I reached my own decision, and when I met the harbor master who agreed to take my boat (it's an upscale marina, and he wanted only to take upscale boats), I said that if Ike
pushed up the coast, I'd bring my boat over on Sunday or Monday, but I'd ride Hanna
out in Oriental. He agreed.
So now I started preparing Alizee
, inventorying all my lines, putting two large fenders with a fender board where I touched the dock piling on the starboard (leeward) side. I doubled up stern lines on the windward side, put three lines on the bow (two to one near piling and a third to a piling thirty feet away), and then ran one long line on which I put canvas hose chafe protection from a center piling to Alizee's
stern and bow. I tied down the sail cover with a Jacob's Ladder, which I saw how to do from several other boats, wrapped several turns around the genoa and staysail, tied the dinghy on with extra lines, and took off the bimini (which I dropped off to Down East Canvas to have some protectorate added where some chafing was starting).
Nothing else to do, now, but sit and wait and hope I'd prepared well enough.
Friday morning the sunrise held hints of the storm to come. Winds from Hanna
started building on Friday late afternoon. By midnight I was clocking 25 to 30 knots out of the east and on the beam and it rained steadily. During the night the large fenders slipped out from behind the fender board, and I had to readjust them in lull when there was no rain. At about 05:30 the winds started building fast, and by 07:00 I clocked as much as 52 knots. Later I heard it had gotten higher, as much as 62 mph.
As it got light, boat owners joined the dockmaster Ross in tightening up lines. It turns out the biggest danger was weak pilings that gave up during the storm. Five pilings went down, and the boats tied to them had to be retied to new pilings. Ross and his crew had spools of new line and doled it out liberally as needed. In this photo you can see a sailor on the back of one sloop throwing a line to another boat which had lost a piling, and the piling is seen in the water next to the hull of the boat.
By noon the winds were gone, back down to 10-15 knots, and within a day Hanna
was forgotten. Moreover, Ike
, which by Friday morning I sort of thought would head straight across Florida, actually slammed Cuba, and as I write this is a monster about to hit the Texas coast.