The winds are blowing steady from the North – as Hurricane Sandy works her way up the East Coast. Even though she is still out to sea, we are feeling her wide reach. The navigation buoys 15 miles east of us record the wind speeds – and show the winds are registering 40+ knots.
For perspective, we are anchored 40 miles due west of the Atlantic Ocean – and 45 miles northwest of the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. We are 80 miles due southwest of Ocean City MD, and 105 miles as the crow flies from Baltimore. We consider our waters in the south bay to be “one with the ocean”. We regularly see dolphins, sea turtles and there are reports of sharks – tho I haven’t actually seen a shark here. The water is saltwater, and I can assure you that when we have spent a day sailing in the south bay – we have to hose off the salt from everything.
Hurricane Sandy is a wide-load….some 500 miles in diameter. As of this writing (Sunday) she is currently 250 miles offshore, and about 200 miles south of us. Her direction is north, parallel to the coastline, and getting closer to our position.
Today we are seeing the winds increase, and the rains are steady. We are glued to the 5-11 National Weather updates. Every 5AM / 5PM and 11AM / 11PM the National Weather service puts out a revised track for Hurricane Sandy. Since we are so close to the ocean, any sooner than anticipated Sandy turn to the west is news that we don’t want to see. The weather updates are becoming more consistent – and showing landfall well north of the Delaware Bay.
By late afternoon, the rains intensify and we are feeling bands of howling winds. We talk regularly of “plan B”. Plan B is final desperation Plan B is where we have to abandon ship. We are not at that point AT ALL, but feel that maybe, just maybe we should discuss having this plan. At this point, we don’t know exactly what to expect. The forecasts change at every update. Sometimes the forecast is better, other times it is worse. I prepare the ditch bag – those items that we MUST bring in moments notice all encased in ziploc baggies — SHOULD we have to abandon the boat. Paddy readies the dingy lines — so that if we have to jump into the dingy – we won’t have to fuss with tangled line. We contemplate weather we should put the dingy into the water now, or just let her swing on the dingy davits. I wonder how we will put the dingy engine – which now rests on the back of Cat Maudy – onto the dingy when the winds take your breath away. I stare at the shoreline, and decide that if our anchor drags – then we really don’t have very far to swim – to go ashore. The water is 67 degrees. Not frigid…but not temperatures I would want to spend any time into. Then there is Soxy. We could float her and her kitty carrier onto a boat cushion if needed. Not sure what would happen once on shore. I think that is Plan C.
We have also started living on “End of the World Food”. This consists of food we would NEVER eat otherwise. Grilled cheese sammies, egg n cheese sandwiches, soup loaded with sodium, chocolate…and not a hint of vegetables or fruit. If the end of the world is coming – why not enjoy those foods that nutrition experts condemn?
As you can see, the looming “unknowns” of Hurricane Sandy begin to mess with your mind. For one brief moment, I felt a truly paralyzing panic and fear. I couldn’t move. I didn’t want to be at anchor when the predicted mega-storm Hurricane Sandy of the century meets with a mid-Atlantic NorEaster – and does the unthinkable. Instead of moving east, out to sea, Hurricane Sandy would be moving west. Closing in on us. Things were going to get worse. I had to take back my mind. And I did. At least for awhile. I turned up the radio to muffle the howling winds, and told myself over and over that the sounds were worse than what we would experience.