Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy 3.5th of July

Arthur has left town, thankfully, and it is now a beautiful, sunny day here in Portsmouth, although blissfully ten degrees cooler than the past few days.  It's still a bit breezy, which is welcome, because it's keeping us cool aboard Vector.  It's so pleasant right now, that we've just returned from a lovely walk around Olde Towne Portsmouth.

Due, as they say, to circumstances beyond the organizers' control, the Fourth of July has been rescheduled for tomorrow, at least here in coastal Virginia (I understand in parts of North Carolina it has been postponed a week, or canceled outright).  We'll still get to catch all of it, though, because our tentative plan to run up to Deltaville tomorrow has also been postponed by weather, with seas on the Chesapeake at four feet in high winds.  Sunday will be a much better day for the transit, with seas of just one to two feet.

I got the full update on the holiday schedule by checking back in at the visitor center right here at the landing after our walk; they seem more than happy to have us stay another couple of days to take it all in.  (We are the only boat here, although a cat from Montreal tied up for the storm.) While all the events for the Fourth have been postponed, the events normally scheduled for "first Friday" and "first Saturday" are carrying forth at their normal times.  This afternoon there is a free concert at the courthouse, and tomorrow there is a farmers' market and several of the local museums are free of charge.

Before our walk I spent some time putting the boat back together after the winds had died down to a dull roar.  All the furniture and cushions are back in place, the covers are back on the barbie and the dinghy, the bears are on the scoots, and almost everything is back to normal (we still have all our extra lines, fenders, and fender boards out -- no sense trying to pull them in until we are ready to single up).  I inspected all parts of the boat that seemed to be impacted by the storm, and other than taking some tiny bits of Portsmouth's dock pilings with us, we seem to be no worse for wear.

Bits of wood, much like grated cheese, on the rub rail from scraping up and down against the dock.

And the corresponding part of the dock piling.  By the time I snapped this, we managed to get the horizontal cylindrical fender back in place.

Now that the storm is past and we can reflect calmly on our first real tropical storm situation, we actually did pretty well, but, unsurprisingly, need to make some tweaks to the checklist.  For one, we need to actually follow the checklist we already made more closely: we opted to skip a couple of steps based on the updated forecast, one of which was to bring all the extra lines into the cabin rather than leave them in the line locker outside.  This so that additional lines can be readied in relative comfort before having to venture out in storm conditions to deploy them.

If we had just had to deploy a line or two, it would have been no issue, but the decision to rig the second fender board meant we were fumbling through the line locker looking for the smaller lines needed for that purpose.  Fortunately, the rain was not unbearable at that moment, and it was warm enough to work in my swimsuit, so being drenched was not a problem.

The second fender board, with two ball fenders (aka buoys) behind it.  We did not think the board would work well with these, but it was fine.  This is looking down from on deck, at the tail end of the storm.

How it's supposed to look -- a fender board supported by two cylinder fenders arranged vertically.  This was the original setup, deployed amidships, which took the brunt of the force.

What that first fender board looked like after the storm.  It was previously unused.

We also need to add some items to the checklist.  Chief among those is to bring the cat carriers into the cabin and assemble them.  We were so focused on storm wind evacuation, where we'd have plenty of warning, that we forgot to consider the high probability of associated tornadoes, where warning is a matter of minutes, if that.  When the tornado warnings went off, there was no time to ready the carriers, and I'd have to first go on deck to get them out of storage to begin with.

We opted to leave the cats aboard when we went to wait out the tornado warning in the hotel.  We'd probably have done that anyway -- explaining to a non-pet-friendly hotel, where we are not paying guests, why I am carrying cats in their lobby at 1:00 AM is something I could do if a mandatory evacuation order was made for the storm.  But as I wrote in my last post, the hotel staff did not react to the tornado warnings at all -- they did not warn their guests, they did not ask anyone to move away from the windows, and they went about their business apparently oblivious to the danger.  I'm not certain I could have convinced them to let us in, and then there we'd be, all four of us out in the open.  Having the carriers ready ahead of time, though, would have at least given us the option.

At this writing, the plan is to remain here tonight, having one final dinner in town this evening.  Tomorrow morning I may take advantage of some of the free "first Saturday" events, and then we will probably shove off and head over to the anchorage at Hospital Point.  That will let us watch the fireworks right from the comfort of our own boat, cocktail in hand.  I'm sure we'll hear some of the concert, too, even if not up close and personal.  Sunday morning we will weigh anchor for Deltaville.

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