Nirvana "heeling" and showing her fender board. This picture doesn't capture the strong winds!
Being born (me) and raised (both of us) in New Orleans, we've been through a lot of hurricanes! However, preparing for Hurricane Isaac was a bit different because this was the first hurricane that we've had a sailboat to protect (and worry about).
While I drove my car to my dad's place in Mississippi (it's paid for so it's not flooding!), Ken and a friend stripped Nirvana! The head sail, main sail, bimini, and grill were removed and everything inside was secured. We've never seen Nirvana without her top ... she sure looked different! This was a good learning experience, since this was also the first time the sails have ever been removed from Nirvana. The sails were laid across our backyard (much bigger on the ground!) and gently rolled up and placed in our home's upstairs loft.
Nirvana stripped down!
We were concerned about the 5-8 foot storm surge that was predicted. The Gulf of Mexico was going to be pushed into Lake Pontchartain, causing the surge. If the surge was high enough, Nirvana could be pushed over the pilings and onto our dock. This would not be good! So, Ken the contractor decided to bolt some 4x4s onto our pilings and then support them with braces. He also made a fender board for Nirvana, which would prevent her from rubbing against our dock.
Our "Oh Shit!" hurricane preparation ... extended pilings and fender board.
Along with stocking up on water, canned food and candles we also stocked up on extra dock lines! Nirvana had a total of 12 lines securing her to the dock ... two at each location. We had lines at the bow, the stern, two locations towards the center, and springer lines from the bow and the stern. Luckily, all of the lines held up! It was a little nerve-wracking watching Nirvana "heel" from the strong winds, often gusting over 60mph for 36 hours. We were lucky that the winds were pushing her away from the dock!
We know that a lot of boat damage can occur from the dock, so we debated anchoring Nirvana in the middle of our canal. However, with the anticipated winds and storm surge we were worried about the anchors holding. With neighbors and their boats to consider we decided we didn't want to risk the liability of Nirvana crashing into someone else's boat or dock. All of the boats in our canal were secured at their dock or in their boathouse.
Since Nirvana was tied to our dock, we did have to wade out in "butt-deep" water to raise the dock lines higher up the pilings. The first picture was taken shortly after we raised the lines. It doesn't capture it, but those winds were fierce and I couldn't wait till Ken had adjusted the last line. I was afraid I was gonna blow away!
We were glad to have the extended pilings, because Nirvana got about 18 inches higher than our original pilings. When I'd look outside, she was about eye level ... scary! Needless to say Ken and I barely slept for three nights, constantly checking on Nirvana throughout the night. Since we lost power the first night, we were glad to have our fully charged spotlight to keep an eye on her.
I tell ya, I don't think Ken and I have ever been so stressed and exhausted! Being so close to our dream of cruising, thoughts of a destroyed sailboat or a flooded home really drained us. The storm didn't seem to want to leave, and at one point during the last night we really got depressed and were sure our house was going to flood. It seemed the rain, wind and rising water were never going to stop!
Luckily, everything stopped in time and we're now breathing a sigh of relief and trying to get back to normal. We do have a few issues to deal with thanks to Isaac, but that's for another post! Also, our last post has a few pictures of the flooding in our area, as well as a picture of our backyard during the time that the water was the highest. It got close!
We removed the fender board, but we didn't throw it away. As far as the extended pilings ... we're gonna keep them on until hurricane season is gone. We're also going to keep the sails in our loft for now ... just in case. We can't wait till hurricane season is over!
Thought I'd share this short video of the flooding in Slidell, where we live.
Hasta luego ... until then. Mid-Life Cruising!