Monday, August 29, 2011

Hurricane Irene - The Aftermath

I spent some time today traveling on various errands around the New Bern area.  It brought to light just how lucky XO, Reboot and I have been.  We knew that one boat had sunk at Bridgepoint Marina across the way.  They have closed Bridgepoint due to damage to the docks.  Ed (Door into Summer) and I went over to Leigh and David's (Bamba Shack and Woodstock) home in Fairfield Harbor.  On the way we saw numerous downed trees including at least a dozen leaning on the 11,000 volt transmission lines.  But even that did not prepare us for Fairfield Harbor.  We were told 16 boats from Blackbeard Yacht Club had been driven ashore.  We saw several boats including a big power boat on the lawns in Fairfield. While returning an anchor we saw at least one truck destroyed when a tree had fallen on top of it.  At least a dozen homes had trees that had fallen on the houses.  And a number of the homes are low enough that they flooded in the storm surge.

It is instructive to realize that the actual eye of the storm passed about 50 miles to the east.  We expect to get down to Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point in the next few days but we are waiting for things to calm down.

Fair winds and following seas.

Great Dismal Swamp #4 - Even Irene did not put it out!

Hurricane Irene dumped plenty of rain on the Dismal Swamp wildfire - but not enough to put it out.
Fire officials took to the air Sunday afternoon to assess conditions. They spotted at least 30 areas where smoke was still billowing from the 6,000-plus-acre fire, which is not unusual, said John Bearer, a spokesman for the Southern Area Type 2 Incident Team, in charge of the fire.
But there was good news to come out of Irene, too.
No visible flames were spotted, and the fire - which was considered 35 percent contained on Friday before the storm - did not appear to have spread, Bearer said.
Also, between 10 and 15 inches of rain from the hurricane were recorded at the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, he said.
"We have puddles all over the place," Bearer said. "There's time to get water into that soil."
He likened it to water hitting a sponge. For the rain to help, it needs to soak into the deep organic peat, where the fire has been smoldering.
Fire officials were planning to re-enter the refuge today, but their first order of business will be to clear roads and ensure that it's safe to return.
Veronica Gonzalez, (757) 222-5208,

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Reboot OK

I finally got access to Reboot. She leaked in all the usual places, other than that she seems OK.  Now to restore some order and air her out.


After Hurricane Irene 7:42 AM Sunday New Bern NC

The sun is shining and the water levels in the Trent River have reached normal.  We can see one boat that sank and a shredded jib in the marina across the Trent.  The ramp to "D" dock sheered off during the storm.  I can't get down to Door into Summer at the moment but I know it will be high on the list of things to fix so that people can get to their boats.

The Hilton Hotel continues to do a wonderful job trying to make us comfortable.  We still don't have all the power back so much of the hotel is running on generators.  Apparently the land line phone service is still not working - not a big deal in this age of cell phones.  But we are supplied with coffee and a breakfast buffet for those who choose to eat it.

XO slept well last night - mostly cuddled up against me.  The floor of the room is sopping wet from the ingress through the balcony doors.  The air conditioning doesn't work.  I am thinking of opening the windows to help it dry out.

There is not much evident storm damage outside.  A few major tree branches are down.  I have not as yet ventured far from the marina.

A little more coffee and then down to Reboot for a closer inspection and a move back in plan.

Fair winds and following seas.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Hurricane Irene 8:39 PM EDT New Bern NC

The eye has passed (far too closely) to New Bern.  All reports are that Reboot has made it through OK.  I have not walked out on the dock as the winds are still gusting to 50 mph.  It is now dark so there is not a lot of reason to go out in the rain and wind.  Tomorrow will be soon enough.

The New Bern Hilton is trashed.  We had major water ingress.  XO and I were moved from the first floor to the second floor because they expected my first floor room to flood.  The maximum storm surge was most likely 12 feet, about 4 feet short of the tops of the posts in the marina but enough to breach the seawall and fill the parking lot of the hotel up to the bumpers of the parked cars.  Ceiling tiles are down, paint is pealing off the walls and ceilings, in general the hotel is a mess.  The staff on the other hand has been outstanding.  They have been mopping, cleaning, smiling, serving food and trying to keep us all intact. BZ to the Hilton staff.  There are only two computers in the hotel with Internet access so we are all sharing.  The power and cell service have been out most of the day and we have about 35% of the power back again.  There are still large areas in the hotel without electricity - fortunately my room is not one of them.

I need to move on so others can use the computer.

Keep safe.

Hurricane Irene 7:11 AM EDT New Bern NC

The sun has risen and we can now see better.  At the moment the wind and rain has moderated.  Looking out to the Marina the boats seem to be in good shape.  The storm surge has raised the water level over the breakwall and is now flooding the parking lots of the hotel.  We are on emergency power so the TV sets in the rooms are not working but we have gotten the Internet back after about a 2 hour outage.

People are starting to come out of their rooms.  I am off to coffee and more waiting.

Stay safe.

Hurricane Irene 4:30 AM EDT New Bern, NC

Woke up so I decided to take a walk.  We still have TV, power,cell phone and Internet.  Winds now are around 50 mph with the center of the storm still about 2 hours to the south.  We have about 10 feet of storm surge but the floating docks still have about 6 feet of pole left.  I walked out to the shore end of "A" dock with Marsha and Alan.  They were equipped with life jackets and flashlights and walked out to check both of our boats.  They are, at least at the moment, OK.  Current guidance is that we may see 80 mph before we are done. It would appear that the worst of the tornado hazard has passed as that is normally at the north end of the storm.

XO has been quiet.  He is staying very close to me, cuddled up last night as we slept As those of you who have been through this know the wind and rain comes in bands.  At the moment we are in a period of heavy rain and wind.

I will post again after the eye passes if we still have internet at that point.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Irene Update

XO and I have moved into the New Bern Hilton Hotel.  This is the hotel next to the marina.  I can tell that he is unhappy.  He is nipping at me but does not want to be far away from me.  When I hold him he just cries.  I have seen this behavior before when the weather is turning bad.  Fortunately I have my neosporin to put on my new cat scratches.

I spent a couple of hours on Reboot this morning finalizing everything.  All of the things in the cockpit are either tied down or moved to the cabin.  Everything in the cabin is wedged on the floor or in a cabinet.  The forecast is for wind gusts up to 85 mph with the rain starting this afternoon.  Pretty much all of us are about as ready as we are going to be.  So once again we wait.

Stay safe.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Lean to the left, lean to the right, stand up, sit down, fight fight fight!

I have spent the last day taking more stuff off the outer hull of Reboot.  Since it is midday it is still hot and muggy so this evening when it cools a bit I will finalize the deck area by removing the remaining items such as the grill.  I have spidered the boat.  Our biggest concern is that the floating finger docks will break loose.  We have them secured to the pilings and boats so hopefully they will not be able to work back and forth.

The forecast track took a nasty turn to the west (lean to the left) in the last 12 hours and the forecast has gotten worse accordingly.  We were forecast for gale force winds last evening, as I write this the forecast is for hurricane force winds.  We have a couple of bridges and the hotel buildings that will do something to the wind force, that is still to be determined.  I still have one big trawler next to me that has not taken down his canvas, has his stern pointed in the direction of the expected winds and has not put out any extra lines.  I have spoken to the marina about him and they tell me he has promised to do more to secure his boat.  I certainly hope so.

We are back to hanging out and waiting for Irene.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Tracking Hurricanes - Spaghettimodels

Here is a great link to Mikes Spaghettimodels tracking page.  He has stitched together hurricane model graphics from a bunch of different sources and presented them on one page with click through.  Give it a try at  Very neat.  Note that he also has a Facebook page.  You can find the link on the web page.

Tracking Irene

I have spent the morning helping shift boats around the marina.  We are spacing out the sailboats so that when they roll the masts will not become entangled.  Of course there is always the one guy who doesn't get the memo and parked his boat in a slip between two other boats.  We were not able to convince him to move so we moved the other boats.  Great.

The good news is that the predicted track continues to move toward the east.  We will most likley still get strong winds and a lot of storm surge but it doesn't look quite as bad as it did yesterday.  Knock on wood.

The big conversation is about staying in the marina or anchoring out.  I have decided to stay here unless they kick me out.  I have good ground tackle but looking at the ground tackle of some of the other boats gives me pause.  It doesn't help if Reboot doesn't move only to be creamed by someone with a 20 ton boat, 5 feet of chain, and a 20 pound anchor.  And believe me I have seen some of that.

So we watch and wait.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Waiting for Irene

The worst part of course is the waiting.  With Ed's help I took down the main this afternoon so I now have bare poles.  The jib you may remember was torn on my approach to New Bern so the forestay has been empty for a while.  It is kind of funny that my new jib and main will arrive in the next day or two.  As David said, just in time to have them blown out by Irene.

I had planned to go to Chicago and Milwaukee to visit my sons and have some oral sugery done this Friday.  I decided to cancel the trip.  It turned out to be quite the joke.  I suggested to US Airways that they cut me a break since I was not able to travel due to the weather.  The nice lady talked to her supervisor but no such luck.  Then I rescheded the flight.  It turned out that with all the the service fees and penalities it was cheaper to walk away from the ticket then to pay the fees to rebook the flight.  Nice.  The airlines have really gotten to be a royal pain in the neck.  The nice part is that the reservation agent figured out it was cheaper to book a new ticket than modify the old one.  I am sure that if they play the tape she will get fired.  Plus a new one for me, she waived the $25 fee for actually talking to a person to book my flight since I was trying to rebook an old flight.  That was nice.  I am sure that I will be paying for air in the cabin to breathe within the year.

So now we watch and wait.  Each storm track moves slightly East.  This morning it was directly over the marina, now it is about 30 miles to the east of New Bern.  Hopefully it will continue to push out to sea.  I gather they are already evacuating the Outer Banks.

Keep safe.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Goodnight Irene, Goodnight

Here we go again.  I spent a month in St Pierre and Miquelon off the Southwest coast of Newfoundland last year waiting out four hurricanes.  Of course hurricanes never come to Newfoundland.  Only North Atlantic gales.  Except when Reboot is visiting.  Then you get both, back to back.  It was a long month and a departure into the highest winds and waves I have ever chosen to experience.  It was not much of a weather window but at least it did work out much better than my dockmates who chose a different route and lost their dinghy and almost their boat.

Since XO and I (and Reboot) are in New Bern, NC you might wonder why I am posting about Hurricane Irene at this point.  The sailor's creedo is "reef early, reef often."  With a number of my cruising friends not being around later in the week - including myself - it is time to get the boats ready for whatever happens.  In general this means removing anything that can catch wind - sails, dodger, etc. and storing them below.  Of course it rained last night so all of that stuff is sopping wet.  Hopefully it will dry out this morning and we will be able to get it all stowed.  We will also double up all the dock lines and make sure that the fenders are full of air.  Then we wait and see - on shore in the safety of the hotel if Irene decides to come through.

Fair winds and following seas.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Great Dismal Swamp Fire #2

The fire continues to burn.  It is in the peat, some reports suggest 4 feet of peat has burned.  An update from the Newport News Virginia Daily Press is here.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Chinese Swan Lake

When I lived in NYC I took advantage of the ability to attend the New York City Ballet on a regular basis. This was the golden age of the New York City Ballet. George Balanchine at the height of his art. The Ballet hadJerome Robbins as a second choreographer It was a time of great creativity. Children and job relocation eliminated the ability to go to the ballet on a regular basis.  A couple of years ago I was fortunate to see the American Ballet Theatre performance of Swan Lake with Gillian Murphy.  I was impressed and amazed at Ms. Murphy's technical skill in comparison to my memory of the skills of the top dancers of the 1976 - 1980 time period.  I have blogged about the recent Swan Lake movie and my low (and fulfilled) expectations for the dancing.  When I saw this clip of the Chinese Acrobatic Ballet I was just blow away.  Enjoy the clip,

Safe in any weather

XO has found the perfect place to chill in any weather, the front head sink.  I am not sure what the appeal is at this point since we have not been underway in a couple of months.  Maybe he is telling me I need to go to the store and purchase one of those pet beds.

Speaking of not being underway the local diver/bottom cleaner has told me there is no point in trying to clean Reboot's bottom.  Apparently all of the copper has leached out of the ablative bottom paint.  I will be pulling Reboot in early September to paint the bottom.  My research into bottom paints is interesting.  Apparently the ~$125 West Marine paint has the same copper content as the ~$300 high end paint.  What is worth the extra $175?  Another insight is into "multi-season" paint.  I realized that most boaters don't travel very far each "season."  With about 15,000 nm since my last bottom paint job I think I have used up a lot of seasons.

I am also going to use this "availability" (for some reason the Navy calls yard time an availability.  I always thought that strange.  I figured an availability was when a ship could go and fight) to change my prop back to the maxi-prop.  I had changed it out in Green Cove Springs to see if I got better performance with the original equipment fixed prop.  I have concluded that I get very little loss of performance under power and a lot of drag under sail.

Fair winds and following seas.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Great Dismal Swamp Fire

In an attempt to beat some of the heat in New Bern I headed up to New Jersey to visit my brother and sister in law Al and Sally for a couple of days. It was a nice break and I enjoyed seeing the renovations they have done to their home of 30+ years.

I flew commerical to New Jersey but my return was by "Air Al", my brother's turbo Mooney aircraft. We flew from Caldwell NJ to New Bern down the Delmarva peninsula. It was perhaps the most idyllic small aircraft trip I have ever taken. We flew at 6,000 and 8,000 feet for about 3 hours without a single bump or shiver. The sky was clear and Al and I had fun finding all my sailing transit landmarks.

As we approached Norfolk VA we noted what appeared to be a large cumulus cloud. Our first reaction was that our flight was going to be affected by thunderstorms. They are common in the afternoons. However it turned out that the cloud was smoke from a fire that has been burning in the Dismal Swamp for the better part of a month. The tops of the very dense smoke were about 10,000 feet. The visible plume extended SSE all the way to New Bern - about 100 miles. We paralleled the plume the rest of the trip until final at which point we had to enter it to find the Coastal Carolina Regional Airport. We still had a couple of miles of viability in the smoke so we were able to make a visual approach which precluded Al from having to demonstrate his instrument landing skills.

Al did a short turn around and headed back to New Jersey. I returned to Reboot and several hours of listening to XO whine about my absence.

Cowes Crash #2

From my friend Nigel

Hi Roger,

I thought you'd like the Cowes week clip.
The local "Southampton Water" harbour rules are that large vessels have ONE MILE ahead of them as a no entry zone for any other yacht or vessel.
The yacht owner will be wasting his time making any insurance claim AND will be receiving a court hearing with MCA receiving a hefty fine for the cillision AND for putting his crew at risk.
Could cost him up to £10,000 in fines AND the total uninsured loss of his boat !!
I'll send you the details in due course.

Meanwhile, herer are a few wheezes that can save you money................

PS: Have a cool beer for me.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

I'm Racing - I don't reef, I don't change course, I don't have a boat anymore

Like those who didn't reef during the recent Chicago - Mac race because they were "racing" here is another example of racer arrogance:

Its the anchor that gets you every time!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Back to the 50's

Yes, I really am that old.  I don't think that we had air conditioning in my family home until after I had moved out to go to college in the mid 60's.  About the only place that did have air conditioning was the local movie theater.  I grew up in very modest circumstances but every once in a while my parents could afford to let us go to the movies.  This was both a good and bad thing - I still have fond memories of This Island Earth and bad vibes from Them.  Even as a teenager the sound of crickets gave me shivers.

This summer has been brutal with heat.  The water temperature is up to 85+ degrees.  Even when the air temperature drops to the low 80's at night Reboot never gets really cool.  In the middle of the day even with the a/c running full blast it is still unpleasant inside.  But this is not a unique problem to Reboot.  I have discovered that even the public spaces - restaurants, the hotel lobby, and local stores don't have enough tons of a/c to keep up.

I decided that if I am going to be semi-uncomfortable I might as well be entertained.  When Trevor was visiting we saw the new Harry Potter and Transformers.  Yesterday I went to see Captain America.  Rapidly moving forward to 2011 I can describe it with one word taught to me by my sons: Meh.  And the theater was warm.  Even so it was better than sweating all day on Reboot.

As a perspective.  It is 7:30 AM EDT.  The outside temperature is 80.  The water temperature is 85.1.  The inside of Reboot is 90.  This is true even though the a/c has been running all night.  Ugh.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Hamburger or Hot Dog?

Last night I went to the Walmart Superstore here in New Bern to pick up some groceries.  One of my classic hot weather items while in port on shore power is brats.  They are really easy to put in the microwave without having to heat up Reboot further.

The package on the left contains hot dog rolls.  Note that the label says they are hamburger buns.  Since both were at the same price I said what the heck and bought them anyway.

On the way home I started thinking.  Well, the quality control was pretty bad if they put the buns in the wrong bag.  Should I worry?  I finally said just eat the rolls.

What is interesting from the perspective of an old computer guy is what this did to the Walmart supply chain system.  They sold a lot of hamburger buns and no hot dog rolls.  I predict a clearance sale on hamburger buns in the next couple of weeks.