SHEARWATER SURVIVES HURRICANE IRENE
27-28 August, 2011
By Tom and Kaye Assenmacher
Visits Since 4 September, 2011
Greetings to all! We survived Hurricane IRENE in fine shape!
We made a lot of preparations the week (August 22-26, 2011) before the Hurricane IRENE reached our area in the mid-Chesapeake Bay area - the storm actually tracked just east of the DelMarva (Delaware/Maryland/Virginia) Peninsula - about 60 miles to the east of Kinsale. We knew this was a large storm as we had followed its progress through the Bahamas, and the final countdown began on Friday, 26 August, 2011.
We left SHEARWATER (our sailboat) at the dock, as we have weathered several other major storms by securing the boat at our dock. We have a 'spiderweb' of extra lines, anchors placed well to windward, etc. etc. We removed all sails, removed the dodger/bimini, solar panels, and secured all loose gear. We filled the boat's water tanks, made sure we had adequate propane and diesel fuel aboard, had the refrigerator going, etc. etc., in case we lost shore power.
Lines on Windward (North) Side of Boat - Bow Line to Anchor Set to Windward
The Leeward Side of the Boat
Stern Lines and Line to Anchor Set Well to Windward (White Float Near Neighbor's Dock)
Anyway, we began having quite stiff breezes from the east on Saturday morning, and by noon, we were having gusts to 40+ kts, and the eye of IRENE was still in North Carolina approaching the Outer Banks. We finally lost electric power, and phones went dead at about 1600 on Saturday.
Saturday night through Sunday noon were "interesting", but conditions weren't too bad. The storm actually passed well east of Kinsale, just off-shore paralleling the 'Eastern Shore' of Virginia and Maryland, which is about not all that far to the east of Kinsale - Kinsale is up the Potomac River, about 15 miles from the Chesapeake Bay (on the western shore) - and quite well protected. We had sustained winds in the 60 knot range from the North-East backing to the North then North-West with gusts in the 65-75 Kt range. With the heavier winds in the North/North-West, SHEARWATER was now in the lee for the rest of the storm. Just barely hurricane conditions - actually Tropical Storm conditions.
Late Saturday Afternoon
Really Howling Early Saturday Evening
Late Saturday (August 28) Afternoon (before the storm peaked at midnight)
One of our concerns was 'tidal surge', with winds driving the water ashore and up the Chesapeake Bay. We were lucky, and only had about 2 feet of tidal surge. High tide was at about 0200 early Sunday morning, but water only got about 6" above our dock (previous storms have caused as much as 5' above normal high tides). We checked SHEARWATER periodically throughout the night, and all was well - the highest winds occurred early Sunday morning, but were from the North-West, and our dock is well protected from winds from that direction. The boat would sometimes get a gust in the rigging, causing her to 'heel' a slight amount. Anyway, the boat survived without a scratch, none of the hatches or ports leaked - she was dry as a bone inside!
Sunday morning dawned with diminishing winds, and by noon, the sky was beginning to clear. We were up at first light (groping around with flashlights), and began surveying what had happened around our house, and the rest of the property. We were happily surprised to find that no trees had gone down, and relatively small amounts of limbs were laying on the ground - so cleanup will only take a few days as opposed to a week or more with Hurricane Isabel several years ago.
The Morning After (IRENE)! Note debris on dock.
Sunday Morning, SHEARWATER was Floating Like a Duck!
Later on Sunday Following the Storm, we Re-installed our Solar Panels
Monday (August 29) began the cleanup, getting organized, etc. Began chipping/shredding the piles of brush that we've accumulated during the storm.
TJ and his 'Toys' (Chipper Shredder attached to a 1948 Allis Chalmers "C")
Since we anticipated that we may be without electricity for several days, we had filled bathtubs with water for 'flushing' and dish washing (Kaye stocked up with paper plates, etc.). We filled our boat tanks (about 90 gallons) and water jugs with fresh water for drinking and coffee making. We don't have a generator (may get one after this storm), but it wasn't too much of a problem. We had drawn down on the refrigerated food in the house refrigerator and freezer, and had turned them up on high before the storm to keep 'frozen stuff frozen', and moved a lot of 'cold stuff' to our boat refrigerator. Our next door neighbor (who has a generator) kindly offered to store some of our frozen food in their spare freezer.
Since we have 3 solar panels on SHEARWATER, we are just about energy independent (as long as the sun shines). The solar panels produce enough energy to run the refrigerator, pump water (we hold about 90 gal of fresh water in the tanks), and to operate a laptop computer. We also have Verizon 'MIFI', which is a WIFI hotspot, and can be charged using the boat's 12 volt system. We have a propane 'instant' hot water heater, so we can take a 'real' shower every day, and a good galley propane stove. So not having electric power is no big deal - just like cruising down the ICW and cruising in the Bahamas.
We finally got power back on Friday - we were without power for 6 during Hurricane IRENE. We were without power for 12 days during Hurricane Isabel about 6 years ago.
Anyway, just wanted to let everyone know that we are still 'vertical', and enjoying life (as usual) on Virginia's Northern Neck. We are now keeping a close weather eye on Hurricane KATIA which is working it's way up the Western Atlantic. Another 5 days or so will determine whether it comes close to our location in Kinsale. Guess we'll be prepared....
We are still planning on 'heading south' aboard SHEARWATER in October - hopefully the weather will settle down by then.
Tom and Kaye aboard the S/V SHEARWATER in Kinsale, VA