So with Florence, we had a couple of weeks notice that she was coming. Michael was supposed to hit Florida, and die long before it could get anywhere near us. Not an issue! Except Michael did not read those forecasts, and just kept marching north. With one day notice that we may see winds of 50mph, we thought we were prepared. Turns out we were not as prepared as we thought.
Water level came up 3-4 feet, covering and damaging some docks. Winds came up to 63mph by our instruments. Power went out in the whole area about 2 am, and now it is Friday night and still not back. Not much sleep last night! So no WiFi, and internet almost impossible.
The sailboat above is the biggest catastrophe we have seen. Many other boats are in storage here, but this one didn’t make it. I guess I am just thankful that our boat is relatively unharmed. Our bimini top is torn, but repairable, and we lost a cover for a grill on the flybridge. Otherwise fine. In a few days I hope to be someplace with more power and internet, and I’ll put up some more pictures.
Ok, It has been a few days now… we got power back after being out for two days. I tried to get some video footage of the dramatic wind and rain, but it didn’t turn out too well. So here are a few pictures of the marina the next morning.
The ramp to the marina store was ripped off and washed 20 feet inland. Lots of rubbish was floating in some areas.
So Florence may be old news now, but her memory lingers on… in the form of rising water.
We think of water moving to level pretty quickly, but where there is a LOT of water, it takes a while to move. If you pour honey on a plate, you can make it pile up in one spot, but it will then somewhat slowly spread out till it reaches level all over. The water seems to work like that – huge amounts of water upstream can take some days to reach the ICW and a bit longer to reach the coast. Hence our rising water.
We measured where the water hit the dock on Saturday, and have been checking it since then. We are up about 29 inches! The good news is the boat floats, so no real problem. A few minor logistical difficulties – the boarding door for our boat is now so high compared to the dock that we now board off the swim platform on the stern.
A week ago… Pilings up to window tops
This morning – Pilings got shorter!
The road into the marina is in about 9 inches of water, so we moved the rental car to higher ground last night… which meant walking a half mile back to the boat, (in our waterproof boots) sometimes in 6 inches of water. If the water got too much deeper I would be afraid we couldn’t get the car out safely. (This morning those areas looked closer to 9 inches) Another concern is that we are told when the snakes get flushed out of their natural habitat they will be seen swimming along where we are trying to walk. I’m not big on snakes, and especially not in the water. So walking in the dark was somewhat spooky. We survived.
So here are a bunch of pictures of the area, taken yesterday and today.
This is all supposed to be dry land! In addition to the little boat, we’ve seen fish swimming across the work yard.
Not a lot of work is getting done on boats now. The yard workers are spending their time removing electric motors from power equipment, relocating stores and trying to protect the repair yard. And we have no traffic in the canal. The drawbridges south of us are closed due to high water, so nobody’s going anywhere. I’ve heard that several marinas in key locations south of us were not too badly damaged – but now without power. That’s good news for those headed south now. We are still planning on going north into the Chesapeake Bay for a while.
So the winds have shifted this afternoon, and it looks like the river may be dropping a bit. I guess the water on the roads and yard will take longer to dissipate.
I hope to put up more non-Florence stuff on Friday. See you then!
Florence stood us up, and we’re OK with that. But she certainly changed our routine anyway. So I never posted what we did before we started preparing for her visit. So here is a flashback of sorts…
We knew heavy weather was on its way, but several days out. So we might as well enjoy the beautiful weather when we can! So we got out the kayak, and spent a nice afternoon pedaling around. You might notice we propel it with our feet… it is a Hobie Mirage Drive kayak. When you pump with your feet, cute little fins oscillate back and forth under the kayak and move you quite briskly through the water. You can even select reverse and back out of the way of, say, an alligator or whatever. We saw a few other kayaks, some with dogs on board, and a bunch of boys jumping off the railroad bridge. That made me think of boys that Mark Twain might have written about.
We also explored the back side of the marina. There are many sheds to shelter boats. Some are only a roof, some are enclosed on three sides. Many have 2 or 3 boats end to end inside.
Sunday we went back down to the Outer Banks. Bodie lighthouse (pronounced “body”) is not quite as tall as Hatteras, and the stairs are apparently weaker because they make a big deal about only one person on a flight at a time. Because the weather was already starting to move in, the rangers warned us that they might close the lighthouse to climbers at any time, and even if we’d not made it to the top, we’d have to immediately start down. After repeating that, they got into their regular speech, and said to take our time, don’t rush, we had all the time we wanted, etc. Kinda funny.
From there we went to Kitty Hawk and Kill Devil Hills. It is amazing to picture in your imagination what it was like to fly their gliders here, and then the first powered flights. I’ve read that the first powered flight would have fit INSIDE a 747. Length and altitude. The ranger told me that Orville died about 9 months after Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier… So think of the change he saw in flight in his lifetime!
There is a metal sculpture of the Wright Flyer that you can climb on… so of course I had to help Orville in his momentous flight!
We also spent some time in Manteo. I think it is named after an Indian, who pronounced his name Man-Knee-Oh, but liked the letter “T” so much he put a silent one in the middle of his name. Whatever. Manteo is a very picturesque town, but by the time we got there it was starting to rain, and Florence was scaring things into closing. There was a beautiful Elizabethan Garden that we took one picture of, then ran back to the car as the rain started.
Monday it was back to work on the boat, and prepare for whatever Florence was going to give us. I’ve already written some about that, so all I need to say now is that she pretty much ignored us. Even though severe damage has occurred south of us, and is still going on, we had nothing but some wind and rain. Grace felt restless, moving quite a bit in the wind, but we really had no issues. We changed our minds a few times on whether or not to remove the bimini canvas (our sun-shade over the flybridge), but when the winds got to 15 knots it was rattling its framework enough that it was rattling me. So when the wind died down again for a bit, we took it off. I’d thought it might be difficult, but it was easy as pie. And I like pie. We’ll see how hard it is to put up again!
So the highest wind I saw was 19 knots (22 mph) and I can’t see that the water level changed more than a few inches. I have never appreciated being snubbed more than this non-visit by Florence. Thank you all for your prayers and concern!
For the last couple of weeks, we have woken up every morning to blue skies with puffy white clouds, glassy smooth water, and not a trace of wind. This morning the sky was overcast, the water had small ripples, and we were showing the wind at about 10 knots. (11.5 mph) Now the wind is up to about 15 knots, and it looks like our water level has dropped a few inches.
The marina is pretty full now. Boats lined all along the face dock here, and in the boathouse sheds on a small canal in the back of the boatyard. Boat owners are walking around, checking their lines, checking out other’s lines for ideas, and chatting about what we think is going to happen.
We have seen many tanker trucks pumping into the marina’s fuel tanks, probably in case shortages occur or if there might be contamination of local supplies. Another boater here was asking what kind of range we have, since fueling stops south of here might be unavailable for a long time. I believe we could make it to Florida with our current fuel, but we are still planning on going north before we turn around, so we can top off there.
On a different note, many people over the years have asked me why I chose dentistry as a profession. I tell them that growing up I never understood people’s fear of the dentist – our dentist was a good friend of the family, he never hurt me, and he had pretty ladies working for him that pampered me and made me feel great! (And I had a crush on his daughter, but I can’t admit that in print) I said I wanted to be a dentist like Bob. Maybe I couldn’t change the whole world, but I wanted to treat as many as I could like Bob. So last night I was very pleasantly surprised when my dear old friend Bob Homer called me to see how we are doing. We had a nice long conversation – great fun! Thanks for that Bob! So now all of my patients who like me (Both of them) can know they are thankful to you too, Bob.
Here is the drawbridge just upriver from us. It seems to be all back to normal, but with virtually no traffic on the river now, it’s hard to tell. The massive concrete counterweights move down, rolling back on the huge rounded guides beneath them as the bridge leaves move up. Kind of fun to watch. There are railings all around the tops of the concrete counterweights, like you could have dinner parties up there, but I don’t think you’re allowed. And your canapés would definitely slide off if they opened the bridge.
Cherryl just took a picture of me typing… so here is a shot of a shaggy old guy blogging!
This morning we got a nice anniversary gift (It’s our 42nd!) in the form of a revised weather forecast… Florence will probably shun our area and head south instead. We are still gearing up for strong winds, heavy rain and significant flooding, but feel much better about our situation. Virginia has recommended evacuation of everyone in Zone A, which (Right where we are) but that was over a day ago and now I don’t think it is needed.
We are really in a good place, and have water and power to cook and even run the air conditioners. We will still have an escape plan (Rental car loaded and ready to go) but I really don’t think we’ll use it. So we delight in the Grace of God, and in reminders like the great picture above. Before today we never gave much thought to the fact that the water is high over any dock – just pilings in the water. Maybe that’s what tomorrow will bring! (Thank you my precious dental team for that picture!)
The weather NOW is still beautiful… if we weren’t from Colorado, where we’ve seen it go from 75 degrees to a blizzard in an afternoon, we’d have a hard time believing heavy weather is on its way!
There has been almost no traffic on the canal, (Partly because the drawbridge was inoperative (Now it is running normally)) (Can you nest parentheses in prose as you do in mathematics?) except for boats coming here to tie up. This morning there was a short parade of Coast Guard boats, and later a Police boat. We have noticed a lot of helicopter traffic and a few fixed wing planes flying over.
This morning all was still looking beautiful…
So thank you all for your prayers – don’t stop… we’re not through this yet, but it is looking far less fearsome now.
It seems we might soon be entertaining an uninvited and unwelcome Guest… Named Florence. She seems to be very pushy, trying to crash our party. So, we are close to facing our first hurricane.
We are in a pretty safe spot. We are several miles inland, on the Intracoastal Waterway in Chesapeake Virginia. We are tied to a dock facing the canal, a few hundred yards south of a drawbridge and maybe almost a mile to a lock system. There are tall trees on both sides of the canal, which may be a natural windbreak, or may fall and be potential boat busters. We are taking all the precautions we and any others here can think of, except moving. There is no safer place within traveling distance; in fact, many boats are coming here for safety. We are making fender boards to more strongly protect our boat from hitting the dock. We will remove all the canvas from our bimini (the “convertible top over the flybridge), the dingy, and the sailboat. We will remove all the covers and cushions from all the seating on the bow and on the flybridge. We will double and triple our dock lines. We will disconnect our power cord from the dock if it looks like flooding will take out the dock power. We have a gassed up rental car, which will be placed on higher ground within walking (wading?) distance in case we need to leave the boat.
We hope to stay on the boat however. We have over 400 gallons of fresh water, which is far more that the people we saw with shopping carts full of water bottles today in the supermarket. We have enough diesel fuel to run the generator for weeks. We have plenty of propane and empty holding tanks. Locals here say they think we might get a ton of rain, a lot of flooding, and high winds. One said he was here for Matthew and the water rose about 4 feet, but he did fine.
Most of today, and I’m guessing most of tomorrow and Wednesday will be spent firming up preparations for our unwelcome guest. I would not be disappointed if she no-showed!
One other interesting occurrence… two nights ago the drawbridge just north of us was hit by lightning! We heard that it knocked out the automation, so they can only open it manually, and will only do that at 6am and 6pm until it’s fixed. When they opened at 6pm tonight, there was a literal parade of boats coming south, most of which are going to weather the storm here.
So we are planning on staying here unless Florence turns out to be a category 3 or 4 or more once she hits land. Then maybe a short road trip. I’ll try to keep you all posted. We would appreciate your prayers in the meantime, not only for us, but all who are meeting this unwelcome guest!
(All three pictures were taken today. Above was a couple of hours ago. Perfect weather!)