Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Storm Stories: First Irene, Now Katia...

 Hurricane Irene really threw our Le Pingouin Summer Tour off track and now our finale of the summer sailing is in the hands of Katia. These women are high maintenance and no fun! I am grateful that Irene spared us any damage, but that was not without a lot of prep and loads of help from friends.

As I arrived in Newport aboard Le Pingouin, after brief visits to New York and Boston, it was time to get ready for some swank hospitality and sailing during the Bucket Regatta. We were not an entry in the regatta, but had plans to take sponsors out on the water and view the amazing fleet of 100+ foot yachts. It was to be a VIP weekend full of sailing, parties and schmoozing. Well, Irene didn’t like that idea and sent the mega yachts sailing for cover in Maine and poor LP and I in Newport to await the unknown voracity of the storm ahead.

I decided to prepare for the worst and hope for the best, following the sage words of Mayor Bloomberg. This is not an easy task when the subject at hand is a 60-foot light weight carbon sled weighing in at only 8000 tons and boasting a mast of neatly 100 feet. We decided to take everything off the boat we could to reduce windage. This involved removing all the sails, lazy jacks, and wind instruments. We entered storm track mode!
We tied LP off the dock at the Newport Shipyard between pylons so she was suspended in the basin. The process was nerve racking and took a lot of extra hands. I am mostly a crew of one these days, so I was grateful to have some temporary crew support in the form of local friends and Newport Shipyard’s great team. The storm was not as bad as forecast. The storm surge definitely happened and we did see 50 knots and gusts a bit higher, but LP hung in there and handled it well. After a full day of watching and waiting, we faced putting LP back together and readying ourselves for the penultimate leg of the summer tour - Newport to Bermuda.

Let me introduce Katia. She sounds nice but is unpredictable, just like most of her friends. As I prepare this morning, loading provisions and fuel, the intent is to sail to Bermuda, unless Katia gets in the way. Danny Havens will join me as crew and our two guest crew onboard include Shana Bagley of California and Jay Nadelson of Florida. They are fired up for the ride and have helped a great deal in the preparations.

Katia looks like she will form into a major hurricane and might affect our plans to get to Bermuda. If she grows into the bruiser she looks to be, our destination may be altered. If she heads toward the U.S. coast we will likely keep the bow pointed to the tropical shores of Bermuda (although my family is in Charleston and that could be stressful). If she heads for Bermuda, I’ll either be headed home or back to Newport. We’ll error on the side of caution. I am usually telling people we don’t have an ETA only a destination, but in this case the destination is a bit unknown as well. Be nice to us Katia! Stay tuned for more news as we throw the dock lines off for the next adventure.



  1. Stay safe out there kids!

  2. Smart to err on the side of caution Brad, but being the experienced sailor you are you don't really have to be told that. Glad LP did well during Irene. Best of luck with the next one as it is bound to enter our waters either as a hurricane or tropical storm.. Some of those little ones that form off Bermuda or in the Gulf can also be a headache to seafarer's... Anyway, wish you the best. walt, Indian Point, Mahone Bay.