Before dealing with Sandy, we had a big task to do on Orion in preparation for leaving her for the winter. Her Yanmar engine needed to come out to be rebuilt. This was going to be done with the boat in her slip, using the boom to assist in lifting and transferring the engine to the dock. After prepping the engine by removing as many connections as possible, we turned our attention to giving the mechanic as much access as possible. On deck, all the canvas had to be removed and stowed, so the boom was accessible. Cathy also removed all the pots and pans from the lower galley cupboard so the side access panel to the engine could be removed. In the morning, we took out the companionway stairs just before Bill and his son Brian arrived to pull the engine.
In order to keep the weight down, Bill removed the transmission, flywheel and heat exchanger. They drained the remaining antifreeze, which we hadn't been able to get out. (The drain was slightly clogged, which was easily cleared once we knew what to do.)
After releasing the engine from the motor mounts, Bill and Brian attached chains to the engine and rigged them to a 2x4 that was slightly longer than the engine room. With Brian in the Main Saloon on one end and Bill in the aft cabin on the other end, they lifted the engine out of the mounts and onto a board. Next they attached a winch to the boom and Bill ratcheted the chain up, lifting the engine to deck level while Brian centered it in the companionway. With the engine suspended over the deck, they swung the boom out and centered the engine over a nearby pair of pilings, lowering it onto a board that was placed to span them. From there they lowered it to the dock and carried it to a nearby dock cart. It had taken about an hour and a half to remove it.
Back on Orion, the engine room needed some clean-up, mostly from the antifreeze that had not been captured as it drained. Other than that, there wasn't much left to do. Now, we just wait for the re-built engine to return. In then meantime, she's riding higher in the water, 350 lbs lighter and going nowhere anytime soon.
We started tracking Sandy and her likely arrival to Hampton Roads about 5 days before we started feeling her effects. With the need to prep for the engine removal, we were doing double-duty prepping for the storm, clearing the cockpit of canvas and any extraneous items. Dave spent a lot of time checking the dock lines, adjusting where necessary and adding extra lines, so Orion would rise with the tide and stay centered in the slip.. Sandy was going to be more a tidal flooding event for us and not so much a wind event. So, the lines had to allow the boat to rise up to 5 feet above a normal high tide, putting the water over the docks and even the dock boxes. In anticipation of power outages on the dock, we also retrieved our generator from storage and got it up and running, just in case.
By Friday afternoon, the winds were beginning to rise and the clouds were forming. With the winds not predicted to get any lower, we decided to go ahead and drop the head sail. We would have to flake it properly after the storm, since there was no dry spot on land to do it by this point. Dave secured the mainsail with an extra wrap, and with that done, the deck was secure.
There was less to do down below. Cathy shut down the fridge, since we wanted to unplug from the dock and we didn't want to run any risk that the batteries might run down. She checked all the portlights to make sure they were closed securely. We packed up our belongings for a couple nights off the boat. With the expectation of water over the docks, no power,and plunging temperatures, if we stayed put we would be cold and stranded for much of the next 2 days. So we decided it was better to spend the storm's passing in a hotel. As we left Saturday afternoon, rain was threatening and the winds were up, but not extreme. By the time we came back to check Saturday night, the water was lapping the underside of the dock and the rain had started. Dave got on board to see that all was well and we bid goodbye, certain that Orion would be fine. Sandy wasn't supposed to create tides any worse than Irene last year, and we had had no problems in that storm.
Over the weekend, the waters kept rising, each high tide higher than the last, peaking Monday morning at about 3 ft over high tide -- not nearly as bad as forecast. By Monday morning, we checked out of the hotel, originally intending to return to the boat. Monday morning's high tide was the last of the extreme high tides. With the wind shifting to the west, the water would be pushed out of the river, so tides would be more normal. But the wind and rain were now at their peak. We made a trip to the boat to check on it. It was fine, but there was still no power, and it was COLD. Just walking the docks our pants got soaked from the wind-driven rain. We were not going to stay on the boat that night.
So, after another night at a hotel, we finally returned to stay on board Tuesday. Power had returned and the boat was toasty with the reverse-cycle heat doing its job. Aaaah!. Orion was fine as were most, if not all, of the boats at the marina. We had weathered another storm, and the good news was that all of the preparation we made for this storm was necessary to secure the boat for the winter in advance of our departure. giving us a jump-start for our trip south.
Sandy's foul mood couldn't spoil a great evening with our son's family at the Virginia Air and Space Center Halloween Bash on Saturday evening. We accompanied an Annoying Orange, a fairy princess, a monster, a zombie and a pirate wench to the biggest Halloween party in Hampton. The kids (and adults) trick or treated at different stations throughout the center, enjoyed the haunted walk and even took in some of the museum's standing exhibits before retreating to a chili dinner and more kids activities at First UMC It was a great evening and a welcome distraction from the storm.
With a little more work, we got the big boat ready to leave behind in Hampton for the winter. We winterized the head, the water system, the deck washdown and the A/C. We turned up the cushions, cleaned the boat, and shut down the fridge one more time. After packing up everything that we needed to take to the little boat, we stowed it in the car for the trip. You might be thinking the “car” is a rental, but we happened to be the recipients of a happy coincidence and the generosity of friends. Rick and Carla on Euphoria needed to move their car from Deltaville to Vero Beach as they traveled south on their boat. Since we needed to get to Florida with our stuff, we struck a deal. We would take their car to Vero Beach. This gave us the use of it while in LaBelle and for a few days before leaving Hampton, giving us the most flexibility to get ready to leave Hampton, escape the storm, and once in LaBelle to prep the little boat before casting off. It was a perfect solution for both of us.
So, we join the migration south. As we were preparing to drive south, the Caribbean 1500 boats that had had to weather Sandy in port, slipped out a day early, trying to avoid a Nor'easter headed in on Sandy's heels. We welcomed a couple of cruising boats on the dock next to us who were also heading south. Our last night in Hampton, we spent with one couple, giving them an overview of what to expect as they headed down the ICW for the first time. Finally, we headed out on Sunday, making our way to LaBelle and Orion Jr bay way of our daughter's house and a brief visit with the grandkids.