Friday, July 4, 2014

Closest point of approach

Just a quick welfare update here from Vector as Hurricane Arthur passes through its closest point of approach, about a hundred miles east of us.  Soon we will be through the worst of it and it will be all downhill from there.

Last night after dinner at Segundo right here in downtown Portsmouth we started our windstorm checklist, doubling and cinching all lines and removing or otherwise securing absolutely every potential loose item on deck.  These included cushions, freestanding chairs and table, the stuffed bears on our scooters, and even the cover for the flybridge chartplotter.  I got the TV system up and running and dialed in the Weather Channel on the DirecTV box and some local stations on the regular antenna.

Louise had already hit the hay, but I was still up and keeping an eye on things when the first tornado warning went off around 1am.  Warnings are not to be taken lightly, as they mean a tornado has already been spotted on the ground, in this case several miles northeast of us and moving west at 20mph.  We secured the boat and headed into the hotel to take shelter.

I had already scoped out all the public areas of the hotel earlier in the day, so I knew right where to head, and we hunkered down in the middle of the conference center.  We were all alone -- neither the half dozen patrons in the lobby bar nor the several employees going about their business seemed to care one whit that they were just feet from floor-to-ceiling plate glass windows.  There were even two folks sitting outside under the porte-cochere fiddling with their smart phones.

Before the first warning expired at 1:30, a second tornado was spotted much closer to us, and a second warning was issued extending to 2:00.  We watched the cell pass on radar and actually remained in the hotel until about ten after before making our very damp way back to the boat.

After double-checking all the lines and fenders we both went to bed, to be awakened in the middle of the night to the sound of wood cracking and creaking.  The lone fender separating us from one of the sturdy pilings had worked its way out, and our rub rail was tearing and smashing the saturated wood to pulp.  We managed to get the fender back in place, more than once throughout the night, before conceding defeat and jury-rigging our second fender board on top of a pair of ball fenders at the next piling forward, to try to minimize the damage.  With 30 knots of wind pinning us to the dock, the bow thruster could not move us away to do much else.

This is an unfortunate circumstance of bad timing.  We made up two fender boards to use in just such occasions, together with our four cylindrical fenders (each board requires two fenders to work).  All well and good, but one of the fenders was destroyed in Florida.  We ordered a replacement, which is waiting for us at our next stop, in Deltaville.  Oh well, at least we have good rub rails (thanks, John), which are made for exactly this purpose.

It is too wet and windy outside now for me to get any photos to post, but I will try to get some after the bulk of the storm has passed.  We are out of the danger zone, and other than some minor paint damage from all the rubbing, the boat is no worse for wear.  I will try to post an additional update later today.

1 comment:

  1. Glad you guys made it through that one unscathed. Close tornadoes are nothing to sneeze at. Sounds like you chose a good place to "hunker down"! Steve & Carol


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