We are awake at daybreak to the sound of 20 knots of wind whistling through the rigging. In our state of residual dreaminess, our first thought is that Irene has arrived earlier than expected. But this is not the case. It is simply an early morning clash between an approaching cold front and a high pressure area moving on to the east. The forecast for today is for rain and wind. NOAA has issued a small craft advisory for Long Island Sound. A small scale preview of coming attractions.
We receive disappointing news from our hosts at the local yacht club this morning. They ask that we vacate Cutter Loose from its mooring by Saturday. In 1991, the dockmaster was hung out to dry by club members when a gaggle of boats wound up in a jumble at the head of the harbor during Hurricane Bob. A transient boat on a yacht club mooring allegedly contributed to that mess. Now the dockmaster is gun shy about dealing with transients during hurricanes. This creates a new dilemma…where to go from here? We are beginning to feel like orphans.
If that isn’t enough, there is unsettling news relative to Irene. NOAA’s projected storm track shows Irene hugging the Atlantic coast to New York City, then moving inland to Danbury Connecticut. If NOAA’s projections are correct, Cutter Loose will be on the east side of the storm center, which is the most intense sector. Winds will be from the east, then southeast, then south and finally southwest. We need to find a place that is protected from those directions.
We make it a point to chat with other boaters in the harbor. It seems that everybody has a different take on the storm. Several potential anchorages in the Shelter Island area are mentioned, but each has its drawbacks. Some are difficult to enter due to narrow channels. Some lack good holding ground for anchors to grasp. Some are exposed to the direction of the anticipated wind. Our inquiries about a haulout did not produce a callback. We spend the afternoon researching the weather and scouring the charts for suitable anchorages. One thought would be to move west tomorrow in Long Island Sound to Port Jefferson or Huntington Harbor. But calls to mooring agents in those harbors fail to produce results. The reality is that transient boaters are low man on the totem pole in terms of priority, especially in advance of a blow. After all, it makes good business sense for boatyards to cater to their regular customers.
It is obvious that Dering Harbor is the best possible place for Cutter Loose to be during Irene. The harbor is well-protected from the east, southeast, south and southwest…exactly what the doctor ordered. We must convince the dockmaster to permit us to stay. Barring that, we must find a private mooring or some tiny corner of the harbor in which to anchor that is just out of the mooring field. But in any event, we will remain here in Dering Harbor for the duration of Irene.
It is ironic that we have traveled over 1500 miles on this summer cruise without a hint of a threat to our well-being, only to cross paths with a powerful hurricane in Long Island Sound. As sailors, we must be prepared to encounter and deal with storms. We accept that responsibility. But the constant uncertainty about where we will ride out Irene (not to mention the frightening weather forecast) is taking its toll on morale. We need a consistent battle plan. Once we begin the process of prepping Cutter Loose for the defense, the cause will create positive momentum.