Non-stop rain continues overnight and throughout the day in Hampton as Sandy continues her movement north along the coast. The City of Hampton has declared a state of emergency, which means that non-essential travel is prohibited. Everything is closed until Tuesday. The corridors inside the nearby Crown Plaza Hotel are littered with 5 gallon buckets to contain the flow of rainwater dripping from the ceilings. At high tide, the water in our marina covers the fixed docks, making it all but impossible for owners to gain access to their boats. Local news programming is dominated by scenes of flooding throughout Hampton Roads. Certain tunnels, bridges and low-lying roads have been closed.
Despite the inclement weather, the process of preparing for departure moves forward. Today we welcome Caribbean 1500 officials aboard Cutter Loose to conduct the requisite safety inspection. The safety standards of the World Cruising Club are quite demanding. As a condition of participation, each boat in the Rally is required to meet certain safety requirements and carry specified safety equipment. This includes communication equipment, an emergency life raft, signal flares, tools, first aid supplies, lifejackets, safety harnesses and a fully equipped ditch bag. In addition, inspectors brave the pelting rain to check the boat’s standing rigging, deck hardware, through hull fittings, emergency steering and stowage of gear that may become displaced in heavy seas. All summer, we have been accumulating and installing the required safety equipment. Our preparation has paid off. After the 1.5 hour inspection, WCC officials declared Cutter Loose to be in compliance with Caribbean 1500 safety requirements. Although WCC requirements are demanding and costly, we have become more safety conscious as a result of the experience. In the process, our confidence level in undertaking this voyage has been elevated.
During our evening social gathering at the Crowne Plaza, the conversation among the skippers and crew centered around the deteriorating state of the weather . In our little protected area of the marina, wind speeds have hovered around 30 knots for most of the day. Rainfall has been moderate. This evening, the wind remains out of the northeast, but the gusts are more frequent and more intense. A line of squalls is moving from the ocean inland through Hampton. According to local forecasters, these conditions will persist through Monday afternoon. It appears that we will be in for a noisy and rolly night aboard Cutter Loose.