>Hurricane Irene and Pulpit Harbor, been there, done that

>It’s Monday morning, the sun is out and we are still safe and sound having made it through Irene without a scratch.  Sunday was a very long day with not much to do except wait for the inevitable arrival of the winds which steadily increased out of the east, as predicted, and by 2:00 it was beginning to build.   In the early hours the intensity of the winds increased steadily with each gust a bit stronger than the last.  As we were here in Pulpit and in very protected waters, we were spared the brunt but as the wind rolled in over the island hills and into the harbor, you could really feel the power of the wind.

Over the many years that we have been sailing, I have prepared boats for storms, including one that lead to a total loss with the destruction of my boat Artemis many years ago. As a result of these many experiences I have come to appreciate the destructive power of wind and water first hand.  However, I have always left my boat after doing what I could to secure things against loss only to return the next day to see what had happened, if anything.

Yesterday was different as we did everything that we could think of to prepare and after that was done we remained aboard.   I have to say that in spite of being on a boat through some really interesting conditions in the past, there’s nothing quite like 16 hours of heavy winds to keep you tense.

The strongest conditions began around dusk and continued until around 2AM with stead winds in the high 20s and gusts near 40kts.   Actually, I am sure that the winds were stronger than our instruments read as the winds were often peaking at deck level in a way that didn’t match what the wind instruments were reading.  I guess that this was because the gusts were coming down off of the land and being compressed against the water surface.  While we were shielded from some of the worst wind by the surrounding hills, the winds were plenty strong, that’s for sure.  When the wind was most intense, the boat was swinging back and forth through the wind and heeling over in the gusts.  Items that weren’t secured on the counter slid into the sink and it was impossible to have a glass on the table without holding on to keep it from ending up on the floor.  In spite of being raised to keep my arms off of the table when I ate, this was one time when a well placed arm or hand kept dinner in front of me was an absolute necessity.   Even though we were using dishes with rubber bottoms, the silverware would shoot off of the plate so you couldn’t put them down for even a second.  Not quite the same as keeping my arms around a piece of birthday cake to protect the frosting from being snagged by someone.  Yes, that’s you I am talking about Mom!

I had put chafing gear on the nylon rode that held my storm anchor to keep it from being worn through as the boat swung back and forth and fortunately, everything held and there wasn’t any chafe at all.  However, as the  boat slewed around and the storm anchor took the full weight of the boat it was just amazing how tight the line became as the boat surged one way and then another.    On top of all this the sounds of the wind going through the rigging as rose and fell with each gust.

Brenda, who in the past would have never been able to keep her lunch down with so much movement, did great and happily seemed to do fine in spite of the conditions that felt rougher than if we were sailing on a windy day.   I guess that the years of sailing and the last two months in particular, have helped as she now handles motion like a champ.

With the winds so strong and a fear that something would happen while we slept, we decided to keep anchor watch until the intensity of the storm began to lessen.  I went to bed at 9:30 and left Brenda to keep watch and got up at 11:30 to relieve her.  Every so often a car came down to the beach only to sit there for a while and leave after scanning the harbor with a big search light.  I think that it was the harbor master who had stopped by on Saturday night to tell each of us that he was going to be monitoring things as the storm came through and would lend a hand as needed.  Fortunately, no help was needed and by a bit after 2:00 it seemed to me that things were stable enough and the wind beginning to moderate enough so that we could call it a night and get some sleep.  Me, I slept like a bowling ball.  You know, you throw a bowling ball onto a bed, it rolls to the middle and there is sits.  My sleep was sort of like that.

Well, it’s morning, we are all safe and sound and I am relieved that it’s all over and as near as I can tell, all of the boats in the harbor made it through without a scratch.   We will probably have to stay here in Pulpit one more night as we wait for the wind to get back to normal as it’s still plenty windy and for the seas out in the bay to subside.  On Tuesday we will make our way back to Rockland so that Brenda can head back to New Jersey and whatever awaits us at home.

For me, the big question is who will be crew for me as my friend Roger who was planning to help me bring Pandora back to Mystic later this week is stuck in Denver and won’t be home until Thursday or Friday due to canceled flights. I am not sure what I want to do about the return trip.   To quote Scarlet O’hara, “I won’t think about that today, I’ll think about that tomorrow”.

As no blog is complete without a few photos, here are some shots of the harbor this morning all sunny and bright.   Yesterday you certainly couldn’t see all the way to the Camden Hills across the bay.

To the west and a few of the boats that rode out the storm with us. 
The sun on the water is just blinding. 
What a difference a day makes.  That’s all for now.

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