I appogize for not updating the Insider Lately, I flew home to protect my main residencene that was in the path of Hurricane Sandy.
I live on the Barneget Bay. This area is famous for its sailing and youth programs with many yacht clubs that fulfill the gap of sailing instruction. My house is directly facing north east built this way in hindsight in 1924. My house was first a lifeguard station on the bay side of Long Beach Island — it had many duties, from maintaining the railroad trestle to dismantling it and building the causeway to one of the first resort areas on the north east.
Long Beach Island first built for the wealthily Philadelphian tycoons of the era.
Ive seen some the worst the Atlantic and the Bay have to offer here. And I've ridden every one of them out.
But Sandy, she was different. When I saw the left hook she was going to do I knew I needed a plan. My first idea was to document the storms build-up which I did day one here out reaching arms started to effect our tides. The days before Sandy lead to boat storage a mad dash to get all the boats out the water — all sizes, shapes, sail power, etc. This would later prove to be one the biggest mistakes with a storm this size.
Next, secure the home, the chairs, the grills, the patio furniture — something most hadn't gotten to yet. Third, make sure if you had the pets — a plan I didnt have.
I wrangled every stray cat in my neighborhood with food, with nets, with sheer pet whispering charm — all the tricks. Put them all in my attic with 20 pounds of food and huge self water dispensers. Eight cats total — three kittens and five adults. I have to stop feeding the neighborhood.
And that said and done, we prepared two Go Pros on the dock of my house to capture the storm. I charged my cameras up, emptied the card and was ready. We had water, food, matches etc. We had a storm kit for the house and a storm kit to get out the house.
Sandy began the day before full moon so the tides had already been high at my home. Wading threw water every high tide all week. Leading to the storm I had installed a new solid core door on my back porch and weather striped it properly. I did the same to my french 12 lite front door and back up door to my main house.
This would latter be a saving grace. On Sunday when Sandy started, I turned the Go Pros on and waiting out in cheat high water cold also but not intolerable. Got them going and returned to my safe perch on my front porch. Taking shots on incoming slack tide and high documenting the waters rise. The wind really was not a factor yet.
As I watched the Barrier islands in front my house connected to the great marsh cover with the rising tides, I wondered maybe this is the one that will take the house. Still snapping away I rode the night out of Sandy's first approaching elements taking shots all night of the tides.
By Monday's sunrise, the winds had not picked up yet. I rode out Hugo's hurricane winds in St. Thomas. But enough to generate a white chop. Still no swell to speak of.
By 7 a.m., my project Mako 18 that been waiting for me to fix since we won the cup, was my escape route. No motor but a safe floating platform, my 22 had been flipped last year.
Any way she had started floating with trailer attached and five cinder blocks attacked to her. Floating past the window I thought of will she be in the front yard soon. I rushed for a line in my mud room — nothing. Rushed back to the deck — nothing. Running back through the house, I spotted an electric cord and this s why you always lasso and wrap your cords — not over the shoulder crap.
I undid the 1/8 inch line holding it and tired a bolin slip in an amzing noth speed, test coiled three wraps and threw for the front cleat . I got it. Days and nights drinking Mount Gay at the Buccaneer in Palm Beach throwing lassos at the pilings had come back to pay off.
That done I pulled the boat and trailer to the middle my house in front, retrieved a poly line out the boat because it floats, and tied here off my front steps. OK now for the trailer. I cut the trailer loose and she systematically, like having a seeing eye dog, retreated into the murky waters back to her original home on the side of my Captain's Quarters.
OK escape plan retrieved back to taking pictures. It's now 9 a.m. I checked some emails, talked to family all screaming out that house. Of course me, the stubborn saying I was all knowing, I wasn't planning on it. I began to think I should save stuff high started raising and putting things in the attic. With the cat rescue home, papers, banking records, mortgage and insurance papers in my back pack, laptops in attic except my new Mac that was coming with me as well as my pell box and cannon gear.
Then while still having power I heard shelters where being opened nearest to me. Would be Southern Regional high school in Stafford township. 10 a.m.
I hear a truck door open. I investigate. It's a news van shooting in front my house up on high ground. I wave, no reply. I take pictures of no reply. Amazing, 12 p.m. noon winds now picking up, water rising, wave action slamming into my back deck.
House shaking. I make two impromptu sand bags using kitten litter bags poking holes in it. Works great by the way. Do the back porch, do the front, and deck. Back deck is acting like the bow of a container ship breaking the waves yet absorbing the damage. My house would be taking the waves no funnel down the side my house. Mako sitting pretty. I look to the bridge where the road block of LBI is. It's manned with cops and town staff. I think we're still holding it off.
2:30 p.m. Monday is spent answering an email from Bruno Trouble. I had sold a picture in San Franscisco to Louis Vuitton — my big break. Funds had arrived from him and I thanked him.
3 p.m. Lost power. Now I'm in the flip a coin go-or-stay attitude. I pick the go when I see the deck is detaching from the house and I have two inches into the back deck sun room. Winds around 40-45 Gust 55 white capped bay now sheets of pure white out going past windows — yeah, its time to go.
Feeling like a Captain must abandoning my ship — my cottage — a very hard thing to do. As well as the pets there was no way to get them out.
I called the police department and advised them my plan: load the boat, me, cameras and backpack. Cut the line and let the boat take me with the tide waves and wind. Float to the causeway and seek shelter at the high school.
Not noticing they had moved the barricade to the bridge a quarter mile away, I saw no rescue cars on the causeway now. I asked if I make it how do get to shelter. She replied: are you asking for a ride?
I hung up. I called the local Italian deli here — Preziosos. They're friends of mine and family. Knowing there must be some emergency people around. There were. You're doing what Pete Jr. asked: you're in your house, you meatball. OK well what you're doing I explained. He said OK there would be someone there in five minutes.
Its seemed like an hour — the longest five minutes. Its raining like cut glass. I have all my foul weather gear on, my cup jacket, layers on and boots, backpack pell box — I'm ready . I just make out the waters cresting the front door now. It's at the second window. I check the cats, they're all good. A last-minute idea: I put a bag of food in a garbage bag and then insert the bag in a blow up duck poll life ring. I cant make this up. I set it on my bedroom floor. Bag and food in the middle of it. If we make it, its just more food for the cats.
OK It's go time. I see a blue flasher some 1,200 ft. away.
I have to go through a window. If I open the door I'll let the water in.
I try to pull the boat closer. That's not working — the water and winds howling now waves crashing all over. I climb on the deck railing and jump — pell box and backpack stuffed (by the way the New Americas Cup Puma backpack worked great). Shameless plug. But I now wish I bought the black water proof Oracle bag. The things that go through your head.
I jump landing with pell box hugging and backback. I then take the knife I had placed at the bow cleat cut the line and away we went. The boat did a natural short breach and righted itself forward. We're cruising with the waves and wind.
I hit a small fence post, bounce off, and continue straight for the causeway. We look as though we're going to make it but get caught in a hedgerow of debris. The water's over my head here. I get out of the boat 200 yards short of higher ground, and decide to swim for it. I get on on the bow and dive forward with my pell box as a floatation device keeping my Mac out of water. I land belly first and start kicking.
I kick with a small fury and even kind of surfed the wave action. Body surfing a la pell boggie board. The box scrapes the road. I get up. I'm ankle deep in water. I look up. There's my rescue ride driver standing there wide eyes shaking his head.
"Holy s*** are you nuts?!" he says.
Yes I can't ague with that.
"What's in the box," he asks.
I say: my life, livelihood, hardrives and every picture I've ever taken of the Vuitton, the America's Cup World series, every venue, etc.
He says: I wish I had a camera to film that. That was amazing.
I say: yeah all in a days Hurricane!
And with that, we leave my home, my vessel, my pets, and head to the shelter. One note: on returning the day after, I walked in five miles The Mako was found across the bay parked in front my friend's house on the front side of the house like it just got delivered there. Amazing to say the least.
More on day two, shelters and getting back to come.
Originally posted on my America's Cup Blog: http://acworldseries.blogspot.com/2012/11/hurricane-sandy-update-my-bout-with.html