Hurricane Sandy 2012 part 1

So as Sandy has finally passed us and we’ve managed to weather it relatively fine in comparison to other locations I finally have a few minutes to write an update as to what happened to us during the storm.

First I’ll tell you what our plan basically was for the storm.

  1. Batten down the hatches
  2. Weather the worst of it
  3. Go for a stroll once it passes and check out what happened to the rest of the Toronto Islands

Hurricane Sandy however had other plans.

We have been very hard aground for quite a while at the marina. Lake levels have been incredibly low this year. Not so shallow that we can’t get ourselves out but it is at a concerning level (Side note: We’re right now at the low point of the lake cycle so with any luck next year will be more regular). This is nothing to totally worry about on a normal year with normal weather.

The Hurricane brought with it extreme pressure changes and waves even in our protected marina (the waves had white caps in some of the basins because of the wind for instance). The Lakes aren’t affected by tides but what we do get is that big storms push large amounts of water around the lakes giving us something similar. Typically this is a gentle process but not under these circumstances. As a result we went from hard aground to floating (something we hadn’t been doing for near a month at this point) in very short time spans. Combine that with the waves and we started pounding on the bottom.

The Toronto Islands are mostly made up of landfill and sand. So buried below the soft sandy soil could be anything including concrete, steel, heck anything that is hard and ungiving basically. The pounding on the bottom essentially punched a hole in the bottom and a leak formed.

J and I were mostly in the galley keeping an eye on how things progressed outside and trying to keep our cats calm. Cosmo (our black cat) frankly didn’t give a crap what was going on and was lounging upstairs with us. Martini (our tabby cat) started acting odd. Normally he’s a rather skittish cat that doesn’t particularly like being held too closely. But he was running up to us and jumping in our laps. Stay for a bit. Jump off. Then run to the stairs. He did this over and over until J decided to follow him to the top of the stairs in the cargo hold. I was on the phone with my parents when she suddenly yelled for me to come on downstairs and that there was a problem.

What we found was that there was nearly a foot of water above the tile flooring in the cargo hold and rising. We do have bilge pumps available but they are 110volt pumps and we don’t have them plugged in, we also didn’t have any high water alarms installed either. This I know is a grievous error and not a good idea in any boat and I can only blame myself for not having such systems in place earlier (the 12volt pumps that were already in there from before have never worked).

J and I quickly jumped into action and threw in all out pumps that we had into the bilge of the cargo hold to try to make headway on the water before we try to totally identify where the leak was coming from. 1 pump was starting to slowly make headway but I threw in a second anyways just to make it go down faster. Once we started making headway I was able to take some photos.

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