Earthquakes and Hurricanes! - Aug 2011

Thu 1 Sep 2011 20:45
In the space of a week we had an Earthquake followed by a Hurricane, what more could you want?
The earthquake (5.9) was the highest recorded earthquake Maryland had ever experienced.  We were just sitting having coffee in the cockpit (Nimue is now out of the water) and the earth started to shake!  It lasted for about 20 seconds and in that time all the boats around us, especially the yachts, started to rock on their stands.  Our coffee shook itself out of their cups and we started to wonder if we were going to stay upright!  Once it stopped, we were glad to find that no damage was done, but some of the younger workforce in the yard were not too sure what had happened, as they had never experienced an earthquake before.  In fact a gentlemen we spoke to later, who was sailing out in the Chesapeake Bay at the time thought his boat had run aground when the earthquake hit!
Soon after we were preparing for Hurricane Irene, which was forecast to hit the North Carolina coast and then run up towards New York.  We are situated at Herrington Harbour in the Chesapeake Bay, about 300 miles north of Cape Hatteras.   For the few days prior to its arrival the yard went ‘mad’ lifting about 150 boats a day.  The main concern was that a tidal surge would run into the harbour (as occurred with Hurricane Isabel) and did a lot of damage to boats and pontoons. 
Irene was about 500 miles across, so when it passed Cape Hatteras we were on the very edge of the hurricane.  Irene was initially forecast to be a force 4 hurricane,  but by the time it hit the coast it was down to a force 1.  We were on warnings for Tropical Storm conditions, which can have sustained winds of up to 73 mph, although our area was forecast to have wind gusts up to 65 mph.  The signs of the storm appeared around mid-day (27th Aug 2011) and conditions deteriorated throughout the day, with the worst weather arriving about 2100, which lasted until 0800 the following day.  We had very heavy rain and strong gusty winds of up to the forecast 65 mph.  Fortunately the wind was northerly for most of the duration and therefore did not produce a tidal surge and this was also to our advantage as Nimue was facing into the northerly wind.  However, as Irene moved further north, the wind backed, going round to the west and we incurred some strong gusts hitting Nimue on her port beam.  This did move two of our stands, but nothing more!
The whole experience was quite worrying at the time and we were also pleased that we were with Nimue when it happened, as we would not have liked to be back in the UK wondering what was going on.  Scott Free is also out at Herrington, so we were able to keep Steve and Chris, who are back in the UK, informed of the situation.
The result was not as bad as forecast, but many trees had fallen which caused major power outages and we were without power and water for 3 days.
We are now going back to the UK on Thursday 1st Sept. for a well deserved rest....