We had been watching the tropical storms start forming one after another off Africa and knew it was only a matter of time before we had to deal with one coming close to us. Danielle was the first threat, but she decided to stay well offshore. But Earl was starting to look suspicious. The boatyard began to buzz with discussions about the storm. Was it a threat or not?
Orion was docked in the boatyard’s service slip next to the TravelLift. As Tuesday morning arrived, we awoke to the sound of the crane moving and began to watch a procession of boats being hauled and transported into the yard. Needless to say, this got our attention. Dave went off to consult with other cruisers and the boatyard about alternatives for weathering the storm, while Cathy made preparations on the boat. The remaining enclosure panels would need to come down. Before doing so, Cathy cleaned and polished them. If we were going to be at anchor for several days, we would need some more groceries and would need to do laundry. We also needed gas for the generator and the dinghy.
When Dave returned, he had our options laid out. Larry on The Dove, Larry and Lynn on Two Morrows, and Michael on Wind in the Willows were on the hard in the boatyard, and had various experiences to share, having weathered storms nearby before. The boatyard management also had their experience and recommendations.
It boiled down to this. We could haul the boat, stay where we were, or move to find hurricane protection.
We didn’t think staying put had much appeal. Any storm surge would put our dock well under water. Getting hauled would be the safest alternative, but we knew that once we came out, we wouldn’t go back in for a couple of months. To hedge our bets, Dave had already placed our name on the haulout list. We could take it off if wanted, but it was already too late to choose to add it. Once hauled, we would need to shift our attention to take advantage of time on the hard, doing boat projects that can only be done with the boat out of the water. Having been hauled each of the last 2 years though, we were really hoping to skip the haul-out this year. That left moving to a safer place. In our discussions over the last 2 days, a local hurricane hole kept coming up – Wilton Creek. It is about 10 miles further up the Piankatank from Jackson Creek, where Deltaville Boatyard is located. Dave looked it up on a chart and plotted a route there. It looked like there would be plenty of protection and enough room to anchor comfortably, as long as not too many other boats had the same idea.
But what about the storm? How bad was it going to be? We kept watching the updates from NOAA and the weather channel. It was hard to tell what surge there would be, but the winds did not seem too bad. At worst, gusting to 45 knots. We felt we could weather that easily in a protected anchorage. So, we finally decided that we would take our chances in the water, and move to Wilton Creek. To ensure we still had options if we got there and didn’t like it, we decided to head over Tuesday afternoon. If we liked it, we would simply stay through the storm. By 3:30pm, the laundry was done, and Dave was back from running some errands in town and getting gas. We were ready to head out. With no wind to sail to, we simply motored our way up the Piankatank, following its twists and turns until we neared the Rt 3 bridge, where we hung a right to follow the stakes marking the entrance to Wilton Creek.
We have added a new capability for tracking Orion’s movements, with our recent purchase of a SPOT Personal Tracker device. It communicates our position via satellite. We can either choose to manually send our position at regular intervals or have it automatically send a position. We are currently manually sending the position every time we do a log entry, which is once an hour while we are underway. We have configured our website to show these position updates on a new Location page. It makes it easier for family and friends to understand where we are, especially in our more remote travels.
The device also has a “Help” and a “911” feature. If we press the “Help” button, an e-mail with our position will be sent to our emergency contacts. If we press the “911” button, the Spot Control Center will be notified. They will attempt to verify the call by contacting our emergency contacts, and then activate the emergency response unit applicable to our location, normally the Coast Guard. We hope to never need this feature, but it is good to have more redundancy for distress calls in the event of an emergency.
- Despite our early departure from Deltaville, Cathy was able to use her time there to make another pocket to house our new Spot device in the cockpit.
- We were disappointed when on our first trip up the Bay, we turned on our AIS only to find out we were receiving no signals. Once we arrived in Deltaville, Dave discovered the problem was simply a loose wire that he had forgotten to permanently attach. Once he secured the wire, the signals started appearing again.
- After a brief trip out on Orion before leaving for Deltaville, we discovered that the growth on Orion’s bottom and running gear were affecting her performance, losing us up to a knot of speed. We had a diver come to clean the bottom and change the zinc before we left, which should be good enough to keep her running through October.
We have been helping our friend, Sue, get her boat ready to take out of the slip under its own power. This involved getting her engine impeller changed, and getting the safety systems and gear ready to pass inspection. Her navigation lights needed work, some of which was just cleaning corroded connections. A more significant project was wiring her steaming light, which was mounted, but had not been connected to a power source. We helped her climb the mast for the first time to check the bulb, and then Dave helped her trace the wiring back to the panel and re-connect it to a breaker. With just minutes to spare before the Coast Guard Auxillary inspector arrived, she completed the repairs, passed the inspection and received her sticker. A few days later, we joined her as she took Daisy Sue out for the first time on a sail, marking a milestone for both Sue and the boat.
We were treated to one more visit from our daughter’s family, when they came to see the Virginia Living Museum and take a fishing trip out on the bay, before school began again. There were 2 more dock parties as well, celebrating summer’s end and our neighbor’s 60th birthday. .