This was a busy, crazy week.
First, we had the J/22 World Championship. Hosted by the Annapolis Yacht Club, it brought sailors from around the world to sail 64 identical J/22s in a week of intense racing. It must have been an exhausting and exhilarating experience for both men and women. (Several boats has all-women crews.) With cloudy skies, the threatening approach of Hurricane Florence, and a competent team of race officials, the competition was great. Other activities were cancelled or postponed around Annapolis due to the impending weather event, but the J/22 Worlds went on.
I had the opportunity to follow a couple of races on a friend’s Eastbay, and we used the boat’s speed to change location relative to the fleet to keep the best view of the race leaders. On the last day of the competition, the start of the last race had to be restarted four times, as so many boats went over the line early. Race officials barked increasing terse orders over the VHF to get the boats back in position to begin a new starting sequence. They were running out of time, and with less than 10 minutes before the mandatory termination of the last start at 1430, the fleet blasted across the starting line in a clean start. I got the image below of the fleet jockeying after a frenetic start.
But we never took our attention off the approaching hurricane. And so it happened. Hurricane Florence came ashore at Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina. Over 400 miles wide, the storm moved slowly inland, at time at the snail’s pace of just 2 mph. It hit the Carolinas hard.
The destruction was massive. New Bern had a storm surge of 10 feet, and the downtown marina was completely destroyed, boats damaged or sunk. The wide path blanketed the coastline, and I wondered what it must be like in Southport, or Osprey Marina, or so many other fun places I’ve enjoyed visiting over the years. Would they survive? Webcams were down, internet off, and only brief updates came a little at a time with current conditions. Social media was of some use as people passed along what they knew.
We fully expected some impact in Chesapeake Bay and everyone watched the ongoing coverage. I have friends in both North and South Carolina and it was hard not to feel for their safety.
(By the way, we depend on cell phones for communications these days. But in dire emergencies such as hurricanes, when towers topple and networks are overwhelmed, a good old landline is often the most reliable way to stay in touch.)
It will be some time before we know the extent of the damage as many people do not yet have power or running water.
The news coverage was never ending, and some of my friends are addicted to that. They call it weather porn.
And then that reporting became something of a drama itself, fake news at its finest. As if reporting hurricane weather isn’t newsworthy enough to the millions at risk, it got a little slimy. Thankfully, people noticed it immediately, and it went viral.
Mike Seidel of The Weather Channel is shown on camera, bracing with all his might to stay upright in the horrible wind tunnel of the hurricane. One assumes he has his life on the line to bring you this report, flying debris ready to take him out.
Seconds later you see two men walk calmly behind and past Seidel, with not a glimmer of the drama he endures. Indeed, they are strolling along as if nothing is going on. The definition of “fake” is something that is not genuine, and here it is folks. Fake news, or grossly exaggerated news? Embellishment? Yes. Accurate and honest journalism? Hardly.
Anyway, the weekend was full of activity and the stress of worrying about our friends. And, as it turned out, Annapolis was not hit by anything major.
Until, that is, the Vikings showed up. Argh!!! Hide your women and gold!
The 115-foot Viking ship Draken is the largest Viking ship in the world, built to showcase the outstanding seaworthiness of Viking boats and crews. Draken is named after the Viking king who united Norway. It came across the seas from Norway, and is now on an East Coast tour. It is in Annapolis now, and sails to St Michaels’ Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum for tours on Tuesday through Thursday. Want to see a real Viking ship? This is your chance.
The ship has a 26-foot beam and the 75-foot mast in made from Douglas fir. It is quite a sight at the National Sailing Hall of Fame dock.
Hope all this activity slows down a bit, as we move closer to the start of the boat show season.
Have a great week.