Monday, August 29, 2011

The Day After

The last couple entries were written awaiting Hurricane Irene, or Tropical Storm Irene by the time she went by us, slightly to the west. There were days of preparation at our marina and preparing our boat, tying redundant lines, striping anything that can fly in a high wind, and preparing the boat for rough seas as our stern is to the south facing the mouth of the Norwalk River, a long fetch. The worst case scenario we learned from Hurricane Gloria in 1985. Although our boat (a smaller one than we now have) was further up the river at a different marina, the southeast wind brought high waves into the river and although our boat did fine on its own, another boat broke loose in that marina and its bow pulpit impaled our stateroom, resulting in fiberglass and water damage.

Our present boat is more than a boat; it is our summer home and we have no other place to go. Luckily, we were able to get a hotel room not far from where our boat is docked so we were hoping we would have easy access when trying to return after the hurricane, even if power is lost and street lights are not working.

The greatest danger beside the wave and wind action is the tidal surge and South Norwalk is vulnerable to extremely high tides. Wisely, when our marina was rebuilt by our boat club, the main pilings took this into account. They are tall, made of cement, and the floating docks were designed to stay on those pilings even in the most extreme conditions. And they were extreme as Irene came blasting up the river near an astronomical high tide. Still, the floating docks were only three feet from the top by the time the water receded.

Nonetheless, we returned to our boat this morning with some trepidation. Did all our lines hold and did any of the horizontal rain and saltwater spindrift breach our hatches and windows? It was with a sigh of relief when we entered the boat and realized that except for some seepage under the door, the boat was in good shape. It took us most of the day putting back everything we had stowed or secured. Although all dock and spring lines were tied tightly with redundancy, it is amazing how much they stretched in the heaving seas. In the placid morning light of this day after they lay limply. Also one of the chocks that hold lines on the starboard side of the cover board had popped three of its four screws, a testament to the constant chaffing of the lines. The ‘Swept Away’ was stern to heavy seas for several hours accounting for this slight damage. Had the chock not held, the lines would have cut into the teak cover boards.

The day after a hurricane or tropical storm --- and we have been in several – always seems to be the opposite side of the same coin, as beautiful as the prior day was treacherous. The photograph below shows damage at a neighbor’s dock, but a crystal blue sky with unlimited visibility. In the background one can see Peach Island, one in the Norwalk Islands and beyond that, some eight miles away, the Northport stacks on Long Island further to the south. Goodbye, Irene, goodbye indeed.