In a remarkable twist of fate, amidst the carnage of Hurricane Sandy that extends up and down the Eastern Seaboard, ten sailing and boating bases were spared from any damage from one of the strongest storms to ever hit the coast. We would like to think it was 50% luck and 50% careful planning. As a professional yacht management company, bases have written plans to follow in case of emergencies of all sorts, including storms.
Each Base Owner made their own decision in preparing for the storm. Interestingly, where bases made the decision to keep their boats in the water, boats that were on land were damaged. And at bases where the decision was made to haul out their boats, other boats that were left in the water were lost or damaged. It was the professional local knowledge that led to 100% of the boats making it through unscathed. A hearty thanks goes out to the Members and Boat Owners who lent a hand to get everything ready for the event.
Captain Lilly Cardenas, who manages our Virginia Beach sailing base gives this report of their preparations. “I considered a variety of options, including hauling the boats out of the water. By Friday afternoon it became clear the the Norfolk/Virginia Beach area would be affected by the storm, though not hit directly. Our area would be affected by heavy rain, high winds and tidal surge. Our two marinas have a good deal of protection from the heavy wind, so the tidal surge was my primary concern. Wayne Diviney, the Base Owner and I, decided to keep the boats in the water and I prepped them for such. The boats are all in slips at floating docks, so I knew that the boat and docks would rise and fall in unison with the surge. (The docks are in good condition and I was not concerned about the docks breaking off and floating away or sinking.) I slacked the lines attached to the pilings, however, to accommodate for the high tide, which would take place as the most intense part of the storm passed over the area. In terms of down rigging, I had it easy with the convenient in-mast furling system on our cruising Hunters. To eliminate the chance of the headsail unfurling accidentally and catching wind, I removed the jibs. To reduce the amount of windage, I removed and stowed all dodgers and Biminis. Additionally, I utilized all available fenders. Below deck I checked that the bilges were clear, and made sure that the battery was charged enough to handle the bilge pumps if the power were to fail. I turned off all unnecessary electronics and ensured that all hatches were dogged down and locked.