Hurricane Florence

September 14, 2018

Now that we are finally moved aboard, it’s time to move out the last few items from the garage, clean ‘er up, and get the new tenants moved in!

We busted our asses cleaning that house. Every window, ledge, baseboard, shelf, cabinet, drawer, and wall plate. We found a miracle product that even restored our stove top to ‘like new’ condition. The grease vents, ovens, dishwasher and microwave were polished and hell, even the clothes poles got cleaned. All in time for the final walk-through with our property manager but then…

Hurricane Florence started spinning toward us. With Hampton, VA in the hurricane cone, and with so much ground saturation over the late summer, Governor Northam issued a mandatory evacuation for us. The tenants canceled their flights (and still no new move in date as of 9/21!) and now Erik and I would have to shift focus on hurricane prep work.

I hate to complain here, I really do given I’m about to live a life most people can only dream about, but after months of planning, preparation, cleaning, and moving, I was ready to be done.

We spent the next two days moving all the yard art and furniture into Erik’s now-mopped-clean garage, getting the storm shutters up, and prepping the boat. I will not pretend I wasn’t scared because I was. I cried at least five times during the boat preparations, some tears were from stress and anxiety, others from worrying about Sparky, and yet other tears were because we just got this boat and I’d be forlorn if we lost her.

Once again, Erik was the rock he always is – keeping me even keeled (pun intended) when the panic would set in, having a solid plan, and frankly, he’s a genius (and that is not just because he has a very high IQ). Erik saw this storm coming before weather stations started talking about it. He has learned how to read the weather. True story.

Now, for anyone who wants to know what it means to prepare for a major storm, read on.

For a HOUSE, here’s my perspective on the standard things a homeowner should do to prepare:

  • Move all projectiles inside
  • Board up windows
  • Gas up car tanks; have full jerry cans for generator on hand
  • Have flashlights and candles, and don’t forget matches and batteries
  • Get the extension cords for the generator nearby
  • Refill your prescriptions
  • Wash ALL dirty laundry
  • Run the dishwasher cycle
  • Toss out leftovers that may go bad/uneaten (they will STINK up your fridge when power goes out)
  • Get cash out from bank (you never know when you might need to toss a $20 out for help)
  • Buy enough groceries to last a week; be careful with perishables (don’t forget Fido and Fifi’s food)
  • Buy enough bottled water to last EVERYONE two weeks; and don’t forget you may need to cook/clean with it
  • Get life jackets handy – and don’t forget life jackets for pets
  • Gather important paperwork (deeds, insurance, passports, etc) and secure in water tight pouch
  • Download movies and books (and make sure you have charged up your electronics)
  • Download the Zello app and know how to use it in case you need rescue and can’t get through to 911
  • Pro tip: If your house floods, do NOT hide out in your attic. I was a dispatch operator during Hurricane Harvey and I cannot tell you the number of people who got stranded in their attic with NO way to get out. Not to mention the number who didn’t have a life jacket.

Here’s a general run down of how to prep your BOAT at a marina on a floating dock:

  • EVERYTHING FROM THE ABOVE LIST (except boarding up windows and having extension cords nearby)
  • Store all exterior cushions
  • Remove all unnecessary line or secure extra line on life lines
  • Remove the life ring
  • Remove fishing poles and deck brushes
  • Remove flags
  • Remove all canvas, from biminis, windows, grills, winches
  • Fold and tie down the bimini frame
  • Tie down the stack pack (and don’t forget to secure the halyard so it’s not a constant “ding, ping, boing” as the winds increase – that sound is like nails on a chalk board) (if you don’t remove the mainsail that is)
  • Secure the furling genoa with additional line
  • Double tie lines to the dock, so every cleat is secured in at least two places on the dock – don’t skimp on the chafing gear
  • Secure the anchor
  • Put out all extra fenders on dock side (keep two secured on deck in case you need to fend off debris or other vessels)
  • Tape any problem areas (e.g. if you have a cable going from your temporary antenna into the lazarette, like we did; or if you have any known leaks)
  • Make sure you have enough gas/diesel
  • Empty heads (pump out station of course)
  • If the pilings are considered to be low (<10 ft above high tide), have a plan if the storm surge pushes the dock off it (typically a rare event, but trust me, I was freaking out with 7’ surges planned)
  • Move vehicles to a secure location (in our case, with our tenants not moving in, we moved our cars into our garage)
  • Take pictures of all prep work done in case a claim needs to be filed post storm (Subscribe to our YouTube channel for our future video showing everything we did)
  • Monitor weather for its inevitable change and plan accordingly
  • STOP LISTENING TO THE MAIN STREAM MEDIA – they just like to scare everyone
She’s ready for a major storm!

In the end, the storm path moved further south and west of us, so while we had winds up to 31kts, we had almost zero rain. Afterward, our cute little beach was littered with tree stumps and high surf, but otherwise, looked pretty good. The fact the storm moved was good news for everyone in Hampton Roads. We are low-lying in the first place, in fact, the original name for Hampton Roads is Tidewater – and our neighborhoods flood quite frequently.

As I was running around preparing for this storm, the topic of conversation was solely focused on Florence, with many residents recounting the damage from Isabel (the last hurricane to affect Hampton Roads was Isabel in 2003 – a Category 2 and while this storm centered in North Carolina as well, it caused the most damage to Virginia.)

I can’t say I would do anything differently to prepare for a major storm – and while I’m all about facing my fears, like everything else with life on a boat, for me it’s a series of firsts. My first hurricane prep is now off my list, and while the fears are now a memory, they are not forgotten.

Next up: Getting this boat off the dock!

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4 thoughts on “Hurricane Florence”

  1. Pingback: All Aboard! – Sailing Music And Lyrics

  2. Grateful you are safe. I can totally understand your fristraion. So much work in a paicular direction only to feel like things are coming against you. And they are. The enemy is. As you press on to your dreams, live oit loud, encourage others, you will come under attack. Do not despair. Stand strong. Seek God. Trust the plan that you have bee given in your heart. We are living in that place too.

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