Friday, January 30, 2009

Surviving Tropical Storm Hanna

By the way, we figured it would be helpful for you to know which of the crew of Gypsies is writing each blog entry - so from now on, we'll start out that way...

This is Tammy speaking...

Rest assured that the crew of Gypsies has survived Tropical Storm Hanna - in grand style no less. As John mentioned in his last blog entry, we had changed our geographic plans in anticipation of the impending storm (that's what cruisers do - they improvise!) We left Sandwich Marina on the Cape on Friday morning around 6:30 hoping to beat the bad weather - not! Pea soup fog greeted us as we entered the canal and pretty much followed us for the whole 7 and a half hours to Newport, RI. As if the canal needed to throw us an extra challenge given we were also dealing with 4-5 knots of current - the tradeoff for leaving early to supposedly beat the weather. Although the Gypsies crew handled the fog and high seas like old salts, I did hear uttered by several crew "let's head south where there is no freaking fog!" Luckily, that's where we're headed! That sentiment was reiterated about an hour out of Newport when a total yahoo came screaming out of the fog less than a quarter mile in front of us going about 30 knots - obviously had no radar and no clue!!! Luckily we saw him just in time - a few choice words were uttered and the rest of the trip into Newport was blessedly uneventful. In fact after Colleen did the "go away fog" dance, the fog lifted just as we rounded the point to head into Newport harbor. Colleen has a new job until we're out of the fog zone!!

We tied up to a floating dock in Brenton Cove - a tucked away section of Newport Harbor right in front of Fort Adams. We woke on Saturday to fog, rain and a dismal weather report of 40-50 knot winds Saturday night and 25-35 knots on Sunday. Once again we called an audible - instead of heading into Banister's Wharf for the night on Saturday and possibly getting stuck there Sunday and Monday (at $3.50 a foot), we decided to stay put on our little floating dock and prepare as best we could for the upcoming blow. Unfortunately this meant we had to postpone our final bon voyage dinner with Steve and Mary Ouellette - longtime Johnson friends and for those at the bon voyage party, Mary made the amazing boat cake for us complete with pictures of the Gypsies crew and the boat kitties! Thanks so much Mary! Steve just drank our beer - but we still love ya Stevie!

We spent about an hour with Will (the singlehander in the sailboat that we were sharing our floating dock with) putting out additional lines and fenders, crisscrossing our dock lines to opposite cleats and securing both boats as best we could. A great part of the cruising community is how everyone comes together to help each other fight Mother Nature - Carl the owner of the floats came by in his dinghy to make sure we were all OK and had everything we needed to ride out the storm.

We then spent about an hour tying down everything in sight - 50 bungee cords later (OK maybe I'm exaggerating a little bit - but not much!) and we felt like we had done everything we could - we were ready!! The kayaks, dinghy, bikes (all our toys), chairs, grill, winch, etc were secure and there was only one thing left for us to do - take the launch into town for a couple beers to stave off the cabin fever we expected to hit by being cooped up in the rain for the upcoming days. John discovered a great "scam" (I mean marketing ploy) as he was sending a postcard to his daughter Jennifer and her fiance Nic - a $10 off coupon for any service in Bowen's wharf - service vs. beer, no question there. We decided if Doug got one too, that would just about be a free round - score!!

After a walk around town while the weather still held, we decided why shouldn't Colleen and I get more coupons - another free round!! We really like Newport!! The boys went off to get some beer to replenish Gypsies stores and we met up at a really nice wine bar and restaurant - we had already used the coupons at the pub at Bowens Wharf. I'll give the bartender credit - he didn't seem too affronted when we walked in with John carrying a 30 pack of Coors Light cans and then presented the coupons!

We headed back to the launch only to find out it was about 50 minutes from a pick up - yup only thing to do was head back to the Black Pearl for a beer! Of course the skies opened up mid beer - while all the other patrons ran for cover, the Gypsies crew took out their foulies from our backpacks and continued to enjoy the beer. I think we're getting the hang of this cruising lifestyle.

Back to the boat where Colleen made me a fabulous birthday cake - OK not a traditional one but a true cruisers' cake - a layered lasagna made from leftover pasta, chicken and veggies with alfredo sauce - it rocked! We also read the blog of our friends, Norm and Vicki Naughton, on Tide Hiker, another 49 foot DeFever who had hunkered down in Falmouth, to make sure they were all set for the storm - and then panic set in!!! They had spent SIX (yes SIX) hours getting their boat ready, taking everything off it and taping everything down - we had only spent 2 and used some bungee cords - the other four hours we had spent drinking beer - usually not a use of time that I question, but...there was a storm a'coming! I felt transported back to law school where I was usually fine right before an exam until I talked to another student who told me they had studied twice as much as ... Anyways, the storm started to blow in so we set up a watch schedule - this was our first real storm on board so we were all a little nervous. While it seemed fairly tame at first albeit torrential rain and some wind, all heck broke loose around 4:00 am - winds to 40 knots and rocking seas. Our floating dock turned about 10 degrees swinging us closer to a sailboat than we would have liked but she held. After being up most of the night, we finally got a little sleep around 5:30 - we woke around 7:00 am to bright blue skies and sun!! The wind is still rocking today but nothing like we expected so we think we'll dinghy into town, see if we can score some more coupons and watch the Pats game!! Life is good!!

Hopefully for my birthday next year we will be someplace warmer and drier…

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