The never-ending project to fill my hole in
the ocean while bailing it out
Sailing Season 2011 is on!
thumbnails for a larger picture
Thursday, August 25, 2011
I went out this morning with a plan to
strip the sails off, remove the boom, and off-load anything of value. My
regular haul-out 'crew' were taking care of their own boats. I
was going to be stuck on the mooring for the approaching monster storm.
Do what I can then, worst case scenario, depend on the insurance.
I lucked out. Brendan -- owner of the Mid-Harbor Launch
company -- was bringing his mooring barge into the dock as I arrived. He
asked what my plan was. He recommended that I pull Chip Ahoy out, that's
what he's doing with all his equipment: launches, mooring barge, even
the 'office' house out on its float. I told him Marblehead Trading
Company's going flat-out -- no way they'll get to me. He suggested
Dion's Yacht Yard, where I had Chip Ahoy hauled out last November, line
of sight away. They couldn't handle me either -- have over 120 boats to
pull, their winter storage clients, and won't even be able to complete
that in time.
Brendan had offered, if that failed, to put a couple of his crew onto
trailering Chip Ahoy out over at Winter Island, help drop the mast so I
could trailer home. But he called back to tell me Dion's couldn't
pull his equipment out either -- so he wouldn't be able to assist
me. I kept plugging along with my initial plan, would need to hope for
the best and count on my insurance policy if the worst happened.
While below, stuffing the main sail
into its sail bag, I looked out and saw a house approaching Chip Ahoy! It
is part of the defunct floating restaurant being pushed into the
cove! That condemned floating mass is everyone's concern
— if it breaks loose out there at the mouth
of the harbor, as it has in the past, the harbor becomes a virtual
bowling alley. Though it came close to Chip Ahoy, it squeezed through
between my boat and the next one on a mooring. I called Brendan to
inform him — it was his equipment that was
destroyed the last time the abandoned floating restaurant broke free.
By mid-afternoon the weather felt
threatening, though it had nothing to do with Hurricane Irene. Afternoon
thunderstorms were in the forecast, and the wind had been blowing strong
Brendan called, had a deal with the
Salem harbormaster to pull Chip Ahoy out on Winter Island (photo
from Dec. 2008), park it for the duration with its mast up, but
we'd have to move fast. He was ready to pick up
Chip Ahoy's trailer, bring it over to Winter Island, so I closed up the
boat and took the launch in. Back home on the top of the hill, I hooked
up the trailer to my Blazer and pulled it out of the weeds just as
Brendan arrived. He hooked it up to his truck, I returned to Chip Ahoy.
Since the batteries were dead, I
pull-started the outboard again, dropped the mooring, and met Brendan at
the ramp across the harbor. After circling until he could back my
trailer in (lots of haul-out traffic), I hit the trailer perfectly the first time
and he pulled Chip Ahoy out.
The Salem harbormaster, Bill McHugh,
provided Brendan and me a space up behind the abandoned old Coast Guard
station barracks, so we were soon secured. I'll come back tomorrow and
finalize preparations, but didn't want to tie up Brendan any longer than
Thank you Brendan for extending this
above-and-beyond assistance. You are truly a friend! (Aug. 25, 2011)
Friday, August 26, 1011
This morning I returned to Chip Ahoy's
'hurricane refuge' location on Winter Island to make final
preparations. I brought out the jack stands and trailer strap, removed
the dead batteries and spare but empty gas tank, and battened down the
boat as best I could.
When I got out to the boat yesterday I
eventually discovered that both batteries were utterly dead. This proves
the old adage that on a boat, when one thing goes bad more follows!
Apparently the last time aboard when leaving I must have kicked the
rocker switch (top one) on Chip Ahoy's electrical panel. Also, I failed
to shut off the 12v master switch. Ordinarily, that would have been
caught the next time I was aboard, before critical mass, but since then
I caught a nasty cold, that evolved into an upper-respiratory infection,
that turned into a mild case of pneumonia: I hadn't been out to the boat
in three weeks. Both batteries were completely, utterly drained.
I've taken both batteries home, along
with the battery charger. They're charging now. I also took this
'opportunity' to take the backup gas tank out and refill it. When I
return, Chip Ahoy should be good to go for the remainder of the season.
The harbormasters all around are
dropping rules and regs in this potential crisis, letting all sorts of
them slip by. This accommodation is one of them, for me and other small
sailboats. Access to this emergency storage area, though a short
distance from the launch ramp and parking lot, is powerlines-free, a
clear drive with the mast up for a short but winding distance.
Bill McHugh, the Salem harbormaster,
and his office have been fantastic. Last night Asst. Harbormaster
"Patrick" called. Chip Ahoy had to be moved to make room for a couple
other boats that were coming out permanently for the winter. I had
locked my trailer hitch. I told Pat I'd be right over. He asked if
I'd rather have him pick up the key to the lock. I told him I didn't
want to impose. He offered to pick it up at the dock. I drove down the
street and handed it to him aboard one of the harbormaster's boats. Wow.
I've never seen anything like this.
Harbormaster Bill pulled up while I
was completing Chip Ahoy's hurricane preparations this afternoon. He's
impressed with my decision and efforts; expects a lot of damage from
those who aren't taking this threat seriously enough. He's in the
process of pulling their boats and floats, can't understand why so many
boats are still out there. Me too.
Coming home, one of my favorite views
is cutting down Orange Street in Salem to Derby Street, seeing
sitting on Derby Wharf. I can almost step back in history, the old
federalist buildings framing the scene. I hope Friendship fares well in
the threatening storm too.
"Better to have and not need, than need and not have." (Aug.
The Salem News
Friday, August 26, 2011
North Shore readies for Irene
Hurricane poses first serious threat to the region in 20 years
By Michael Phillis
As dark clouds hung over the horizon near the Eastern
Yacht Club in Marblehead yesterday, a steady stream of utility vehicles
backed down the dock to remove boats from the water and harm's way.
"Don't take any chances," Marblehead resident Rob
Gorman said as he secured his boats to his trailer. Gorman was taking
action because of the imposing threat of Hurricane Irene, now a Category
3 storm moving up the Atlantic coast.
It's been more than 20 years since New England has
faced a serious hurricane threat. The last such event, Hurricane Bob,
hit New England on Aug. 20, 1991, and local meteorologist Arthur Francis
said Hurricane Irene could be a comparable event.
"What we have to look for is where the exact center is
going to go," Francis said. Bob had the largest impact near Cape Cod,
where sustained wind speeds pounded the shore at 80 to 110 mph. Gusts
topped 125 mph. Salem, however, wasn't hit as hard. Locally, according
to Francis, the eye of the storm was never close enough to have an
acutely damaging impact.
"Our peak gusts were 66 mph. We had thunderstorms
during the hurricane when the wind was blowing. Our rainfall was 3.18
inches," Francis said. "Mostly what we had is rain." The comparably
light effect of the hurricane locally was a result of its trajectory.
Where the eye hits, and how close, is paramount.
According to the National Weather Service, Irene will hit the North
Shore either late Sunday night or early Monday morning. If the eye
passes to the east, expect heavier rain and softer winds. If it passes
to the west, residents can expect opposite extremes. Also, because of
the orientation of Salem and Marblehead's harbors, storm surge will be
worse if the eye passes to the east because wind will flood down into
"This will be ... like Bob but I think a little
stronger," Francis said.
Local officials want residents to be prepared.
"Timing is everything," Salem Harbormaster Bill McHugh
said. "What we are recommending, if you have some recreational (craft)
that are trailerable, people (should) pull them out of the water
McHugh said if boaters do decide to keep their boats
attached to their moorings, they should make sure their craft are extra
secure. Poorly secured boats are a danger to the entire harbor because
if waves rip even a small craft from a mooring, it could collide with a
number of other nearby boats and cause considerable damage.
McHugh said his department has prepared for a
potentially large storm surge by removing such vessels as the Salem
Willows float from the water. As the storm nears, they may do the same
for other boats, as well.
Marblehead Harbormaster Charles J. Dalferro also
stressed preparedness and planning ahead. "As far as people getting in
and out of their boat, go early and take precautions now. Don't wait
till the storms are here."
"Do it now," he said.
In Peabody, where flooding has been an issue, Mayor
Michael Bonfanti said the town is doing what it can to prepare, which
includes coordinating with the Red Cross to set up emergency shelters,
if they are needed.
Flooding, however, is a possibility. "If (the storm)
is to our west, like it looks like its going to be, maybe (we'll get) 4
inches of rain," he said. "It could cause some temporary flooding."
Towns are in contact with the Massachusetts Emergency
Management Agency. "We are finalizing our plans," said Peter Judge, the
agency's public information officer.
Judge said the agency has been working with local and
federal officials and holding conference calls with local leaders to
help with planning and possible localized evacuations.
"We aren't talking about widespread evacuations,"
Still, the storm is far away.
"Once it gets closer, we are going to have a better
feel for what potential damage their is going to be in (our)
communities," Judge said.
Judge and other emergency officials said much was
"We're praying like hell it misses," said Steve Karger,
general manager of the Marblehead Yacht Club. "There is always somebody
that shows up 10 minutes before you are closing down and says, 'I didn't
hear about this storm.'"
"When that happens, we don't take them out to their
boat. We explain it's a safety issue," Karger said.
"Do everything early," he advised.
Edgartown Harbormaster Charlie Blair looked
out at the water yesterday and didn’t like what he saw — dozens of
boats whose owners still haven’t heeded warnings.
“I have people that don’t want to move their boats, because they
didn’t plan ahead. I have people that haven’t even been to their
boats. That’s really a scary scenario,” he said. “Those are the
troublemakers. They’re the ones who drag and break loose and wreck
the prudent yachtsman who’s taken precautions.”
The Boston Herald Saturday, August 27, 2011
State ready for ‘scary scenario’
By John Zaremba, Chris Cassidy and Colneth Smiley Jr.
The governor has 2,000 National Guard troops at the ready while an army
of shoppers cleaned out stores across the state yesterday as Hurricane
Irene barrels toward the Bay State with wind gusts of 100 mph — enough
punch to knock out power across the region.
beaches to the Berkshires, residents scrambled to be ready to ride out
“People are freaking out,” said Sarah
Young, one of the owners of the Surfside Motel in Oak Bluffs. “They
think the island is going to be wiped away. Literally, someone asked me
if the island was going to be here after the storm. . . . We’ve
basically just been trying to calm people down.”
Flashlights, bottled water and other emergency staples were in short
supply in stores across the state as shoppers heeded warnings that the
storm’s mighty winds will topple trees and tear down power lines,
potentially disrupting service for days.
complete mayhem in there,” said Lauren Downey, 30, of Boston outside the
Stop & Shop at the South Bay plaza. “There’s nowhere to walk. There’s a
run on water and people are just pushing their way through.”
Gov. Deval Patrick declared a state of emergency yesterday and said
Guardsmen will be ready to help with storm damage. He said state police
and utility companies have emergency teams already in place, and urged
residents to help simply by staying home.
supplies on hand: food, water, flashlights, batteries. I’d ask people to
check in an the elderly or the infirm or the vulnerable neighbors,” he
The storm stands to bring a treacherous trifecta
of nature’s forces: punishing winds, torrential rains and pounding waves
along the coast. Winds are expected to blow heaviest in the eastern part
of the state, while rains will be at their worst out west — up to 10
“We’re hoping for the best but planning for
the worst,” Patrick said.
Charlie Blair looked out at the water yesterday and didn’t like what he
saw — dozens of boats whose owners still haven’t heeded warnings.
“I have people that don’t want to move their boats, because they didn’t
plan ahead. I have people that haven’t even been to their boats. That’s
really a scary scenario,” he said. “Those are the troublemakers. They’re
the ones who drag and break loose and wreck the prudent yachtsman who’s
A Massport spokesman said airlines
plan to start canceling flights today and even more tomorrow, with full
schedules to resume Monday.
transportation system took a far calmer tack toward storm preparation
than did New York, which plans to shut down mass transit today. T
spokesman Joe Pesaturo said the rails haven’t seen major storm flooding
Irene arrived here on the Northshore of Massachusetts
gradually, this morning there was a startling nearby lightning strike
but the rain and wind built steadily. The hurricane was supposed to
reach its peak at between 2-4 pm this afternoon, so at 2:30 I took off
in the Blazer to take some photos and check Chip Ahoy over on Winter
If you look across Salem Harbor from the
dock down the end of my street Winter Island is just behind and beyond
the Salem power plant.
Among others I called, this morning I spoke with John Graichen,
skipper of Malacass, promised to drive down West Shore Drive to the town
cemetery that overlooks his boat and check it out for him. It was
faring well, very protected from the easterly offshore wind. At
that time, the wind was blowing at about 50 mph, gusting higher. (Aug. 28)
When I reached the entrance road to Winter Island it was
closed off. Not one bound by signs, I drove around and discovered
the reason: A large tree had been felled, but cut up and moved
aside. The road to the guardhouse was clear beyond, but the steel
gate was closed. I parked and walked beneath it.
When I got up the road to where Chip Ahoy was parked I
found the lot full, but all was well. The wind was blowing strong
but the boats were unaffected.
The many boats out in Salem Harbor still on their
moorings were faring well too, though dancing through constant swings.
The wind was blowing still at about 50-60 mph, not as bad as was
expected but still enough where I was glad Chip Ahoy was out.
Video of Salem Harbor from the harbormaster's
office on Winter Island; 2:51 pm
All in all, not as bad as expected but still quite a
storm with strong wind — gusts hitting 70
mph or so. I'm gratified that I pulled Chip Ahoy and didn't have to
awaken this morning to anxiety, or dread. There doesn't seem to be any damage in the
harbor but down on the South Coast, in Marion and other ports, boats
lost their moorings (See
Marion sailboat disaster here) resulting in major loss.
Those who didn't haul-out lucked out, this time.
Those who did slept well last night, at least better. It's still
gusting over 50 mph but Irene is done with us. Tomorrow I plan to relaunch Chip
Ahoy at noon, bring it home to its mooring. (Aug. 28, 2011)