Learning From Ike
Maarten van Hasselt relates storm-preparation lessons hammered home by Hurricane Ike. "Special Report" from our October 2, 2008, CW Reckonings.
To reduce windage and prevent damage, I removed the bimini, dodger, and covers and secured these items down below.
The most complicated part of my preparations was figuring out how the mooring situation would change with the predicted 14-foot storm surge and 80-knot winds, which would be shifting from north to south as the hurricane passed. We adjusted our existing mooring lines so they could move freely up the pilings without floating off the tops at high water. We also attached long lines to distant anchor points: a sturdy bush and the bulwark of the breakwater. We tried to distribute the load of the lines between deck cleats, windlass, primary winches, and mast.
We rode out the hurricane at our house, which is about 20 miles from the club. (Authorities had ordered the evacuation of the area around the club.) The storm brought heavy rain, thunder and lightning, howling wind, and pitch darkness. Power transformers were exploding all around us. We were well prepared with water and flashlights and even managed to get in some sleep.
After the storm, we were without power for a week. The frustrating part was to be without communication. Rumors from the club started to come in via SMS text messages, and the reports weren't good: "Worse than Alicia." "Complete destruction."
When we were finally able to return to the club on Monday, we found yachts on the lawn and in the parking lot. No Joan II anywhere. Our friend Cliff found his Desiderata still moored and afloat but mangled by its neighbors. Many boats had sunk. Others were floating in their slips as if nothing had happened. Two or three boats with all their sails on and no preparation at all were unscathed. Finally, someone pointed out Joan II resting atop the breakwater. Imagine this picture: nothing left of the club's piers and pilings, debris everywhere, ripped-up asphalt, sunken motorboats, and at the very end, high and dry, Joan II.