Monday, November 12, 2012


It's been almost two weeks since Hurricane Sandy came ashore and decimated parts of the northeast United States especially those living near the shore areas. I was pretty lucky despite finding BIANKA over a thousand feet away from where I left her the night before the storm I found her floating and still attached to her 300 pound mooring. Here are some of the lessons I learned from Sandy:

1) Putting an extra line on the mooring works well as a precaution to keep the boat attached to the mooring. I probably don't need to attach the anchor chain on board to the mooring chain as I did when Hurricane Irene threatened last year.

2)  The surge from a storm is going to have a big impact on weather the boat stays put or decides to wander across the harbor. I may need to think about adding additional anchors to the mooring chain to try and keep it in place or close to it when the tidal surge comes in. This will involve some prep and diving before the storm hits. Perhaps a heavier mooring might be in order.  Upon inspection earlier this year the eye of the mooring was showing quite a bit of wear following last years Hurricane Irene.
This yearBIANKA's mooring had a new eye welded on to it at the beginning of the season. I'll be interested to see what it looks like when it is pulled after Sandy.

3)  I need to be more thorough in making sure I have dogged the hatches. I'm still amazed I missed  latching the overhead hatch in the forward cabin. It was closed but, not secure.

The winds from Sandy were able to lift it and fling it wide open damaging the Charlie Noble vent for the water heater. Luckily there was not a lot of rain when Sandy hit the area and I only found about an inch of water in the bilge and a damp bed quilt.

4) The solar bimini with it's solar panelsI built over the cockpit is strong enough to stand up to hurricane force winds and there is no need to take it down before the storm. The design has now been through three hurricanes with Sandy's gusts to 95 MPH being the strongest so far. I do have to secure the clear  Lexan centerpiece better as the two screws holding it to the frame were not enough to hold it in storm conditions but, that was just a temporary install at the time Sandy hit anyway.

5) I should have probably taken the sail down below. I did for Hurricane Irene last year. But, this time I opted not to do it. I was on the boat the day before Sandy and the winds were blowing 30 to 35 knots at times and the boat seemed to be riding well. So I opted to leave them on. Not sure how much of difference it would have made since BIANKA's beam is over 11 feet and there were plenty of other boats that dragged that had there sails stripped off of them. But, in the future I will store it below when another storm threatens.

6) I ran out of propane about two weeks before Sandy. Even though I was heading out on a fall cruise I opted not to refill the propane tank  since it was toward the end of the season. I thought I would refill it in the spring. I would use my backup cooking devices for the few remaining weeks. One of my backups is a butane single burner stove. I bought some additional butane canisters but, when I went to try it I found the butane did not flow to the burner. Some parts looked a little corroded  and I did not think it safe to use it.  I then went to my second backup which was a  Coleman PefectFlow 1-Burner Stove which works very well 

as a backup but, can only be used at an anchorage in calm conditions because cooking pots and pans are not secure from toppling over. Luckily, I bought some extra Propane Fuel Canisters  for it's use before Sandy hit. Because they might have been scarce after the storm knocked out power and some people on land would be using alternate cooking devices like I was.  As it was I was on my last propane canister when power was restored back at home and was beginning to wonder if I would be able to find more if I needed them. So getting the on board propane tank refilled should be a priority if one wants to be able to move on board after a storm without worry.

7) Communications can get spotty after a storm like Sandy hit's. At first things seemed to be ok but, as the days wore on and the batteries and generators of the cell phone towers ran down communications began to get flaky. Cell phone calls dropped out, internet access via the cell phone modem was slow or non existent at times.  It seemed that emails sent from my Blackberry were the most reliable form of communications when the others were not reliable.

8) Having an  Engel Portable Refrigerator - Freezer and a cooler on board was a great asset to have. I made the decision to move on board primarily because I had all my basic needs available there. Including refrigeration with the Engel . I was able to empty the freezer at home and store most of the frozen items in the Engel in freezer mode and use the Coleman cooler for the items that just needed to be refrigerated. So I threw very little of the food at home away and had plenty for a week of meals on board the boat without having to find a supermarket or grocery store. I took frozen items from the Engel and defrosted them in the Coleman cooler as needed where it helped to keep the cooler items cold too. As I emptied the Engel I froze plastic water bottles to use as the ice ran out in the cooler.

9) Since I was just getting back from a 200 mile fall cruise as Sandy approached I did not refill the gasoline jerry jugs I use for the Honda 2000 generator. I was winding down the sailing season so I had less than a gallon left of the six gallons I usually carry when cruising. Again since it was toward the end of the season I saw no need to refill them. But, after Sandy hit a lot of gas stations had no power for several days and then after power was restored there was a run on gasoline and they were soon shut because they no longer had gasoline. Even as I write this two weeks after the storm gasoline is being rationed by a system of odd and even license plate days. So the lesson learned when a storm threatens refill the jerry jugs before it hits. It turns out I did not need to run the Honda 2000 generator that much. I only ran it for a few hours one day out of the seven I was on board. But, if I had to use it more I might have run out of gas before too long. So the lesson is to keep your fuel supply topped up and ready until you are sure you won't need it. The same goes for the water tanks.

10) Having solar and a wind turbine on board is a real plus for after storm living. As I mentioned above I only had to run the Honda 2000 generator one day for a few hours. That was because we had a some cloudy days during and after Sandy and with the ENGEL running in freezer mode it was draw a few more amps than usual. But, after things got charged up I was able to use both the 12 volt house bank and the 10 kilowatt 48 volt propulsion bank efficiently.  During the day when the sun was out I would power the Engel freezer from the 12 house bank as the two 75 solar panels were able to power it and charge the house bank  a little. I used the 48 volt propulsion bank to power my laptop as I checked emails and blogged. In the evening after I was done using the computer I would then power the ENGEL freezer from the 48 volt bank because in addition to some solar I also had the Marine Air X 48 volt wind turbine helpeing to charge things overnight. I needed to use the 12 volt house bank to power some LED lights and a small radio.

In short I found that after a storm reeks havoc on land moving onto ones boat is better way to weather the aftermath until things get back to normal on land. Provided of course you already have the systems and provisions on board to live for an extended time at anchor which I did.


Anti Money Laundering said...

I agree with you a hundred percent. My heart goes out to victims and survivors of the Hurricane tragedy and to their families.

Bill said...

Mike - thanks for this informative, well written, and engaging series of posts about Sandy! So glad to know Bianka came through OK, thanks to your careful preparation. Each of the first 3 entries left me sitting on the edge of my chair waiting for the next installment, just like the old movie serials.

What happened to the boat that was moored in front of Bianka, on the light mooring with no chafe gear and too much scope?

We're still sailing on Galveston Bay, come on down!

Bill & Jeannette

Capt. Mike said...

Hi Bill:

Ironically, that boat was still in the same place on Tuesday. Though it was a lot lighter and less beamy than BIANKA. I never did get to check on what the lines looked after Sandy.