Sunday, September 9, 2012

Isaac Recap

Krissy recently wrote about our preparations for Isaac, Helina's first hurricane.  In truth, Isaac struck as only a tropical storm and did not become a Hurricane until after it had passed South Florida and crossed the Gulf of Mexico, and so Helina will need to continue waiting for her first hurricane.  Still, because Isaac was a named storm and because we shared everything we did in advance of the storm, I thought it appropriate to share our experience during and after Isaac.

First, yes, we stayed aboard Sea Gem during Isaac.  The high-rise condos on the east side of the marina blocked the worst of Isaac's winds, and the highest gust we recorded was 60 knots.  (Awfully strong, but not nearly enough to ruin our day).  Because the marina is protected, there was no room for waves to build up, and Sea Gem remained comfortable.  There was more movement than a typical day in the marina, for sure, but no rougher than a typical night at anchor.  I think that if we are hit by a true hurricane, we will stay with a friend on land or find a hotel, but we won't have any problem deciding to stay aboard Sea Gem during another tropical storm.

Second, no, we didn't suffer any damage.  We spent several hours preparing Sea Gem for the worst (removing canvas, adding fenders and lines, etc), and the result is that Sea Gem was, if anything, over-prepared when the worst never arrived.  Some of our neighbors lost their canvas awnings because they did not remove them in advance, and one of our neighbors suffered some serious deck damage: a cleat pulled right out of the deck, leaving a hole behind.  Torn canvas is, of course, easily avoidable by removing the canvas before the storm hits.  The disappearing cleat was likely more an issue with poor boat construction than anything else, but that can be mitigating by using dock lines with more "stretch" and not tying more than one line to a single cleat to spread the load.

We were actually more afraid of damaging the marina's property than our own.  Based on where the strongest winds were coming from, we knew that we would be putting a lot of strain on a single wooden piling that we were tied to.  Breaking the piling was thus a real possibility and would have been expensive to repair.  Fortunately, the piling held strong and both Sea Gem and our wallet escaped Isaac unscathed.

Well, probably sort of.  Isaac might have destroyed our GPS antenna, which was not working when we went sailing last weekend, our first sail after the storm passed.  The antenna was old and the timing of its passing could have just been a coincidence, but I do know that it worked before Isaac and was not working after Isaac.  Fortunately, the replacement cost only $25, and so determining blame does not merit any effort: we won't be filing any insurance claims this time around.