Archive for September, 2011

Irene Visits Oriental

September 7, 2011

Watching Irene approach was scary.  Last year in Grenada we were threatened by Tomas.  We didn’t know what to expect because we didn’t know whether the storm would hit us.  With Irene, we knew we would get hit – just not how hard or for how long.

This was just one of many forecasts we saw.

By Wednesday preparations were in full swing.  Boats were being hauled as fast as the yards could move them.  Everyone was stripping off their canvas and sails, removing or securing everything on deck. 

We had the additional problem of knowing that our apartment would probably flood – it did when Isabel came through and Irene was expected to be worse.  Compass Rose was already a mess inside because of all the tools and materials out for the repairs, so moving back in would have been nearly impossible.  Luckily our friends Don and D had a spare bedroom so we moved everything out of the apartment and into their house.

Don and D had their preparations to make, too. They had both a house and a boat to prepare for the storm.

Don ties off the wind generator on Southern Cross

At this point Jackie, being the brighter one, decided to get out of town.  The wife of another couple was going to visit friends in western NC and invited Jackie along. 

Boats staying in slips added lines.  Compass Rose was side tied to a bulkhead on a canal off the main creek.  There are a pair of pilings on the outside, but too close to properly tie a boat for the rising waters.  The solution was to move the boats from the bulkhead into the middle of the canal and tie lines to either shore. 

We had to wait for all the boats to get hauled before we could block the channel, so the process wasn’t finished until about 5 pm on Friday.  By then it had been raining for four hours and the wind was gusting, but Little Rosie was trussed up like a fly in the middle of a spider web.

I had the dinghy in the water to get people off the boats after they were tied in the middle of the canal.  When finished I had to motor to Don and D’s at the head of the canal so I could secure the dink.  It was quite a trip because every boat along the canal had a line or two across the water to hold if off the dock.

I don’t know the official landfall point, but I think it was a bit east of Beaufort/Morehead City.  They eye passed over us in Oriental.

Saturday morning was an interesting time.  The storm was going pretty well, but we were protected by a lot of trees so we didn’t feel the gusts as much as other places in the area. Eventually the wind died down and D and I decided to walk around a little and see what was happening. It turned out the drop in wind was because the eye of the hurricane was passing through.

We walked down one side of the canal to Deaton’s boatyard. On the way we could look across the canal and see Southern Cross behind Don and D’s house.

Southern Cross sits about nine feet higher than normal

We didn’t have to go far before we found the street covered with water. The farther we went, the deeper it got. There were a couple small trees down along with lots of small branches, pine needles, and random floating debris.

High water in the neighborhood

Finally we reached the canal and could see Compass Rose. There was a log up against her lines, but she was doing fine.

Compass Rose floats quietly in the canal

We walked back past the house and then down the other side of the canal to Sailcraft Marina where we were keeping Compass Rose. As we started down the last stretch to the marina we could see a little red Miata mostly covered with water.

The road to the boatyard. The Miata's owner fell asleep on his boat and woke up too late to move his car

The marina had done well. A few boats had floated off their stands, but had been coralled and secured. Someone had already removed the tree from Compass Rose’s lines.

Wading in the boatyard - Compass Rose in the background

Walking the dock. Boats on right are still in their slips, but the pilings are under water

We walked back to the house and hung out for a while. The storm picked up after the eye went through, but it never got as strong as during the first half. Late in the afternoon we all hopped in the van and toured around Oriental. We mostly saw more of what we had seen in the morning. The exceptions where some big trees down and a lot of damage to houses along the Neuse River.

And as we expected our apartment had flooded.

The floor of our apartment was about a foot under water

As we crossed the bridge in downtown Oriental we could look down and see a large powerboat on its side. We later found out that as the water receded, the boat came down with one side on the dock and tipped over.

The marina by Oriental Harbor

Another amazing thing was that the waves crashing ashore washed rocks from the seawalls up into people’s yards.

The waves washed sea wall rocks into yards

Here are a few pictures taken after the hurricane.

Strange things happen in hurricanes

Boat shed is destroyed, but the cool steel boat survived

Blue heron goes on with life

As a final note, our house in Alexandria, VA, came through with only a few small branches and leaves in the yard.