One of the challenges to cruising is having a plan, and an alternate plan… and another alternate plan. Uncooperative weather and water conditions come in many sizes, shapes, and forms. Wind, waves, fog, currents, tides, sunrise, and sunset all factor into when and how you get from point A to point B. Thankfully, cell phone/IPad, and GPS-based technology provides much more information to mariners through NOAA and other websites/apps. Based on information available, we chose New Bedford, MA to wait out the latest hurricane.
As described in the previous blog, we arrived in New Bedford on Sunday and secured a heavy-duty mooring buoy to wait out Hurricane Jose. Instead of the standard mooring line, we used our heavy-duty anchor bridle that includes a metal to metal loop and shackle increasing strength and reducing line chaffing. Our dinghy is secured on top of the aft deck and so far, nothing on the boat has blown away. We cover up any openings that might allow water to enter the boat. We watch other boaters securing their sails and equipment. Fishing boats are docked two and three deep, hunkered down for the duration. We keep an eye on other boats moored around us including a cluster of very large barges anchored directly in front of us.
Exterior side vents on stack are covered
Hurricane… watch, wait, and hang-on
Stormy weather conditions begin on Tuesday and deteriorate through the week. Wind speed averages increase by the day: Tuesday – 20-25 knots; Wednesday – 30-40 knots, Thursday – 40+ knots. The highest wind we see on Thursday night registers 62 knots. Friday continues with 35-45 knots. The power of the storm is evident as gusts cause Bravo to lean and swing on the mooring line. Heavy rain blows sideways. Low grey clouded skies continue day after day. The dull roar of the wind is constant and you try to remember what a sunny blue-sky day looks like. It feels like a really severe Northwest winter storm. We check NOAA reports and updates several times a day. Jose is decreasing in strength but is stalled offshore, south of the Massachusetts coast effectively blocking our departure, and any chance to get off the boat until the storm wears itself out.
The only boats that move around the harbor are the ferry, the harbormaster, and a tug boat, Ranger, that slowly patrols the commercial docks off of our port side.
Just when you think the worst is over…
On Friday night, as Jose is decreasing, another disaster hits. Sitting in the main salon, we notice an electrical-burning smell. Open the engine room door and it is filled with smoke. Head for the cockpit and open the lazarette hatch. Rain water from the storm has forced its way into the boat, dripped on the inverter (converts DC to AC electrical power) and shorted it out! Melted wires to several critical electrical components effectively shutting down any systems requiring electricity... refrigeration, water pumps (toilets!), electrical outlets to charge cell phones, etc.
After several phone calls to our “patron saint” (aka James Knight) he walks Karl through procedures to set-up up a temporary patch. They determine the inverter is “toast”, make a plan to ship a replacement from Everett, Washington to the West Marine store in New Bedford, and find a marine electrician to do the installation… Oh yea, it is about 9:00 PM on a Friday night and the storm still blowing 35-45 knots.
This is the inverter bypass switch, which also got toasted!
On Saturday morning, we make several phone calls trying to locate a marine electrician. Initially, no luck. However, Pope’s Island Marina staff come through again with a name and a phone number… Phil Derrick. We give him a call and he is on Bravo within three hours, talking on the phone to James, improving the temporary bypass until the new inverter can be installed. Anticipated arrival of necessary parts, Tuesday afternoon. Projected installation, Wednesday.
Exploring New Bedford and Fairhaven – Part 2
Sunday morning and the weather is clearing. With time on our hands, we load the folding bikes into the dinghy and set off to further explore the area. The shore of the bay encompasses two towns, New Bedford on the west bank, and Fairhaven on the east side. Previous forays have been into the commercial side of downtown New Bedford. We decide to explore the east side.
Fairhaven is filled with tree-lined residential streets and old New England style homes. Ornate churches, schools, and municipal buildings constructed during the whaling heydays are interspersed with the old houses. One of the main streets dead ends at a waterfront park and a fort dating back to the revolution. We pick-up fresh fruit and veggies at the local farmer’s market on the grounds of the ornate Fairhaven High School. From reading the informational brochures provided by Pope’s Marina, we learn that Fairhaven was the home to President FDR’s grandparents and the first Japanese person living in the United States.
We dinghy past Crow Island. Once housing a powerful radio station, it is now home to an eccentric recluse. The island is filled with unique and unusual sculptures. ...And people thought Karl collected weird stuff!!??
Nearly the entire shoreline is filled with commercial fishing boats. Many are elaborately painted in colors that identify their company affiliation. The scallop boats have strange and ominous apparatus dangling off the back of the boat.
Continuing to the south end of the bay we tie up the dinghy and hike out to Palmers Island lighthouse, accessible only during low tide. A further hike along the hurricane barrier provides a close-up look at gates and systems that protect the towns against storm surge.
Gates to the New Bedford hurricane barrier
Tuesday afternoon and the new inverter arrives as promised. Phil picks up the parts, begins the repairs, and they continue all day Wednesday. By evening, all systems are “Go”. Thanks-a-million to Phil, James, West Marine, Pope’s Marina, and Magnum Inverter Systems! Thursday is clean-up and prep to move south and east. Fill water and fuel tanks and say good-by to New Bedford.
New Inverter and Inverter Bypass