Learning From Ike
Maarten van Hasselt relates storm-preparation lessons hammered home by Hurricane Ike. "Special Report" from our October 2, 2008, CW Reckonings.
I can only infer what happened during Ike. I figure the mooring pilings and docks gave way quite soon. Judging by Joan II's relatively undamaged topsides, I'm guessing the long lines kept the boat more or less in place. In the damaged slip, some of the lines had broken. The woven ones fared especially badly.
With the northerly wind and the storm surge, Joan II must have been floating 12 feet above normal water level, taking all the waves coming in from Galveston Bay. When the wind veered to the south after the eye had passed, the boat must have drifted (as planned) to the breakwater that lies to the the north of the slip. Unfortunately, the line wasn't long enough to let the boat come down on the far side of the breakwater (as planned), so the boat landed right on top. The keel must have been smashing on the rocks for about two hours before the boat came to rest with the falling tide.
Heavy rain and waves must have entered the vessel. The boat doesn't seem to have sprung any leaks except for where the seacock flange of the toilet outlet sheared off. Water must also have come in through the galley sink because it was full of debris.
Joan II actually looked pretty good on the outside-- scratches on the topsides, dents in the toerail where lines had chafed, rudder off the rudder pin, hull slightly bent in where the boat came to rest. The mast was still standing, so we hoisted our flags to keep the spirit of good hope alive.
Inside was a terrible mess. The stringers had come loose where the hull was resting on the breakwater, but the bulkheads seemed to be in good shape. Up to the level of the chart table stood a pool of bilgewater, ingress through leaky windows and hatches, battery fluid, sand, slime, and dissolved toilet paper. The charts and books in the cupboards had turned to pulp. Electronics were a corroded mess. With the help of my wife, daughter, and a friend, it took us three days of hard work at an uncomfortable angle to get everything off the boat, cleaned, dried, and stored at home.
Now begins the long process of insurance claims, adjusters, surveyors, salvage companies, and shipyards. It will be months before we're back on the water. The boat will have to be removed by a floating crane before being transported to the shipyard on a trailer. We don't think there's any structural damage, but we'll have to take a close look. At the very least Joan II will need a good cleaning and revarnishing, and the engine will have to be serviced.