I’ve been avoiding checking the news of Hurricane Sandy because I don’t want to get freaked out by the horror stories while I’m waiting out this storm on our boat at Zahniser’s Yachting Center. I already caught word of the HMS Bounty sinking off Cape Hatteras, attempting to outrun the storm. My only hope is that all the other boaters out there got themselves to safe harbor in time.
It turns out being on board your boat during a hurricane is equal parts fun, terrifying and boring.
The terrifying part didn’t start until today, when the winds started whipping up to gusts of 45-50 knots, which had the effect of whipping our boat around on its mooring like a chew toy in a dog’s mouth. Meanwhile, the rain poured down in sheets, filling our dinghy in a matter of hours and drenching us to the bone on our hourly checks.
We’ve been checking our lines every hour since 4 pm yesterday, while alternating watches of 3 or 4 hours. Thankfully everything has held fast and there’s been no drama to report. Around 6 pm today we gave up the line checks because it became too windy to go outside, so the plan is to stay down below and continue doing watches, play a little Scrabble and try unsuccessfully to read books until the storm passes. (Ryan has pointed out that this is probably not the best time for me to be reading My Ship is So Small by Ann Davison, the story of a woman who lost her husband and their boat in a storm and survived to become the first woman to solo sail across the Atlantic. He may be right.)
The book seemed like a good idea yesterday, when it was more exciting than terrifying to be holed up listening to the winds whip up to a tame 10-20 knots and it was clear we were safe as anything on our mooring. It was fun in that way that riding a rollercoaster is fun – you tingle with fear, but you have confidence in the equipment, so you’re not worried.
The slightly boring part was when we were doing hourly watches while the other slept, or we were both awake and struggling to concentrate on anything for any amount of time while we tracked Sandy’s path towards us. I kept thinking about this forced hiatus in my marathon training – I’m not sure Ryan would tolerate me running back and forth inside the cabin, as it’s only about 20 feet long. But give me a few more hours and I might try it.
As boring as it was, yesterday’s log looks something like this:
- 4:00 pm – heavy rain, wind 12-15 knots, Ryan sleeping, cats sleeping on Ryan
- 6:00 pm – heavy rain, wind 10-15 knots, Ryan sleeping, cats wrestling
- 8:00 pm – heavy rain, wind 10-15 knots, cats sleeping, retrieved Scrabble piece from bilge, Note: bilge pump might not be working?
- 11:00 pm – heavy rain, wind 17-22 knots, Tasha wins Scrabble!, water in bilge going nowhere, removed stuck joker valve from bilge pump with a hacksaw (pressure might be damaging pump?), bilge pump working again
It continued pretty much like that, except getting even more boring, until 6 am this morning when the gusts started hitting 35-45 knots.
If I could have my way, I’d happily be bored with nothing to write about until Wednesday morning when we ship out of here in one piece and I get let out of my cage for a run.
To all of you on land and sea: I wish you a safe harbor and a boring few days ahead.