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Preparing for Hurricane "Ophelia"

On Saturday September 10th all the talk at the marina was about the chances of Ophelia hitting our area.  It was a windy and blustery day with one gust clocked at 52 knots.  Too windy and rough to go sailing so it was a project weekend.  The project this weekend was to get a couple of coats of varnish in the salon and the galley.  This meant that all of the doors and drawers had been removed along with all of the hardware.  The first coat went on Friday afternoon so we needed to sand and apply the second coat.  By late afternoon this was done and we decided along with several others to start getting ready for the storm by removing the sails.  This went well until we tried to remove the mainsail.  At the bottom of the sail track is a screw that has to be removed to slide the slugs out of the track.  The screw is stainless steel and the mast is aluminum.  If not installed and prepped properly you will get what is called "galvanic corrosion".  This is when the two dissimilar metals fuse to each other.  Sure enough the screw was not going to be removed.  We ended up grinding it off so the slugs would slide by.  We will drill it out and tap the hole prior to putting the sail back on.

Sunday morning we were awaken with the message "the warning has been issued, we need to get ready".  One of the rules of the marina we are in is that if a hurricane warning is issued we need to anchor out.  During hurricane Isabella the marina was under about ten feet of water so staying in the marina is not an option.  The wind had been out of the northeast for the last couple of days and the water level was already up about two feet.  By mid morning it was up three to four feet, just under the docks and over the dinghy dock.

The first order of business was to install the cabinet doors and drawers so that the contents would not fly out when it got rough.  Once this was done it was time to remove the dodger and bimini.  The solar panels had been removed several weeks earlier.  Then we needed to go through the boat and decide what to take off.  It is not unusual in a major storm for water to get into a boat and soak anything close to the leaks.  We packed up the books and manuals along with the television.  Yes, we have a television onboard.  Five of us went together and installed a satellite dish and ran cable to our boats.

The next order of business was to prepare the ground tackle.  We have a 35 pound Delta anchor as our main and a Fortress FX-37 as our storm anchor.  The Delta is on 200 feet of 5/16th chain.  The Fortress would be attached to 30 feet of chain and 150 feet of 5/8ths three strand rode.  The technique that is used in this area that is new to me is the use of 1/2 inch cable.  About 12 feet of galvanized cable is attached to the anchor in place of the chain and the rest is rope rode.  The explanation is that if you use chain to the anchor the chain will slide on the top of the mud and keep the anchor from digging in as deep as is required.  The cable is thinner and will cut its way into the mud as the anchor digs in.  In my case the rope rode was spiced onto the chain instead of a shackle.  We used the cable between the anchor and the chain.  This gave us 12 feet of cable, 30 feet of chain and 200 feet of rode on the Fortress anchor.  We were advised to use the Fortress as our main anchor.  We also used two pieces of fire hose to prevent chafing.  As a boat bounces around in a storm it will very quickly chafe the rode until it separates and the boat is loose.  Leather, hose and many other things are used to protect line from chafing.

Once everything is ready it is time to make the decision when to anchor out.  Some wait until the last minute, others do it early.  We decided to go out on Sunday since we were both on the boat, we would have others around to help and we felt that the weather would only get worse.  The creek we are on is considered good hurricane hole so we didn't have far to go.  We pulled out of the slip and moved into the channel.  At this point we showed 30 knots of wind.  We picked our spot and with the help of Vic, our next-boat neighbor, deployed the Fortress and about 150 feet of rode.  We then pulled up at an angle to this anchor and deployed the Delta with about 75 feet of rode out.  With both anchors set we attached the chaffing material and settled in with a beer to make sure that we were solidly anchored.  Since the marina requires you to anchor out they provide boats to run you back to the marina and out again when it is time to return.  So it was back to the marina and helping others get ready before calling it quits and heading back to the RV.

Yes, we have a hurricane plan for the RV and trailer if Ophelia is heading our way. 

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