Editor’s Log

Cruising World - - Contents - BY MARK PILLSBURY

Come late sum­mer and early fall, many of us with boats in salt wa­ter have rea­son to worry. Sailors lucky enough to al­ready have made it to the Caribbean, Mex­ico or off into the Pa­cific have it the worst, since a few thun­der­storms today can eas­ily swirl up into a trop­i­cal storm — or worse — to­mor­row. Hav­ing a solid plan in place ahead of time for how to deal with things is crit­i­cal, a les­son sorely learned dur­ing the 2017 hur­ri­cane sea­son. Hence, our fo­cus on hur­ri­canes in this month’s Hands-on Sailor sec­tion.

But even East Coast sailors who do most of their cruis­ing along the Caroli­nas or far­ther north are well ad­vised to keep a wary eye on the trop­ics. I

know from May un­til nearly Thanks­giv­ing, my day al­most al­ways starts with a visit to the Na­tional Hur­ri­cane Cen­ter’s app on my iphone. There’s noth­ing sweeter than read­ing

the words trop­i­cal cy­clone ac­tiv­ity is not ex­pected dur­ing the

next 48 hours. If I see in­stead a yel­low, or­ange or red X, you can be pretty cer­tain I’ll be check­ing back to read the warn­ings at lunch, din­ner and bed­time.

The good news for those of us who sail from the Ch­e­sa­peake north is that we nearly al­ways have sev­eral days’ warn­ing of a storm headed our way, but even up here in New Eng­land, you’ll sleep better if you’ve given some thought to your op­tions should you find your boat even close to the edge of a storm’s pre­dicted wind field.

I clearly re­call one storm sev­eral years ago that was fore­cast to come up the coast. Sev­eral of us spent the better part of a day strip­ping off and stow­ing sails, booms, dodgers and frames, and any­thing else we could get off our decks. Peo­ple with smaller boats pulled them, and most of the fish­er­men headed off to se­cure moor­ings up a nearby river. By late af­ter­noon, so many had heeded the warn­ings that the har­bor was ac­tu­ally look­ing fairly empty. It was then that a fel­low showed up with heavy ground tackle, look­ing for some­one to help set it. With the wind and seas al­ready build­ing, he was out of op­tions. Luck­ily, the worst of the blow passed us by and his boat sur­vived just fine, but the les­son was clear: Plan ahead, and take ac­tion early.

Eric Collins, at the fam­ily-run Pleas­ant Street Wharf boat­yard in busy Wick­ford, Rhode Is­land, has seen his fair share of fall un­pleas­antries cause a panic on Nar­ra­gansett Bay. As the folks at the Weather Chan­nel crank up the storm hype, the de­mand to haul boats in­creases ex­po­nen­tially. With their sin­gle Trav­elift and reg­u­lar crew, they’ve man­aged to pull as many as 17 or 18 boats in a day. But do the math: If you wait too long, the hours and stor­age room in the yard will sim­ply run out.

If a storm’s a com­ing, the boats at Pleas­ant Street get packed in tight. Ex­tra stands are used on the bigger boats, es­pe­cially the sail­boats, and ply­wood is set un­der the legs of each jack stand to keep them from sink­ing into the gravel lot. Each pair of stands on op­po­site sides of the ves­sel get chained to­gether to keep them from be­ing rocked out of place. Collins says it’s ex­pected that own­ers will re­move sails and any can­vas­work be­fore the boat gets hauled. Furled sails, he says, can be im­pos­si­ble to re­move once the boat is on land and the wind is ei­ther build­ing or com­ing from the wrong di­rec­tion.

So far, those pre­cau­tions have paid off, and the yard — knock on a co­pi­ous amount of wood — has never seen a boat blow over.

Over the years, we’ve had our sail­boat hauled for some storms; for oth­ers, we’ve cho­sen to re­main on a moor­ing, de­pend­ing on the storm track, ex­pected wind di­rec­tion, strength, etc. Ei­ther way, our rou­tine has been pretty much the same: re­move and stow sails and every­thing else we can from abovedecks. In the wa­ter, we dou­ble up on heavy moor­ing lines, and lead lines from the pen­dants’ eyes at the cleats back to the keel-stepped mast, ty­ing them off as close to the deck as pos­si­ble. And we re­move any­thing we value and couldn’t re­place from the boat be­fore we close the through­hulls and se­cure the hatch.

Af­ter that, we hope for the best and watch to see how fu­ri­ous things might get. What else can you do?

Eric Collins, at Pleas­ant Street Wharf in Wick­ford, R.I., is well ac­cus­tomed to se­cur­ing jack stands for a safe haulout.

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