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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Not Another Storm Surge...

In the last few days we've again experienced "storm surge", which is something that caused a great deal of havoc here along the Chesapeake Bay during hurricane Isabel, back in 2003. That seems minimal compared to what has occured in the past few days from New Jersey to New York City and beyond because of Hurricane Sandy.

Storm surge has to do with water rising in response to winds from a storm. Storm surge along ocean beaches is usually larger and more intense than in bays and tributaries, where the intensity is controlled by a number of factors. Not being a Meteorologist, mine will be a loose explanation.

How storm surge occurs in a body of water such as the Chesapeake Bay has to do, not only with a storm's strength, but where the storm's center is relative to that Bay. The main winds of cyclones in the Northern Hemisphere spin in a counter-clockwise direction, thus a storm traveling on a Northwest track and coming ashore South of the Bay will create winds that move from the Southeast to the Northwest, which is to say up and into the Bay. Isabel traveled just such a path and piled great amounts of water into the Bay, resulting in a large Storm Surge. Many people were severly hit by flooding; some losing their homes to that storm surge, both along the Bay and throughout its major rivers and tributaries.

Track of Isabel is South of The Chesapeake Bay.
Image from NOAA.Gov

Our shop, which is along the water, was badly flooded in Isabel and ever since we have been wary of any major storm that comes up the Atlantic to our area.

Our workshop after Hurricane Isabel in 2003 (in the early
days of digital cameras).
Sandy,unlike Isabel, traveled a Northwest path, but came ashore North of the Bay and the counterclockwise push of water was largely out of the Bay. That is, during the initial impact. As Sandy moved inland part of that circular motion began to push from the Southwest, but with far less impact than Isabel. You may want to play with a compass and piece of paper to illustrate the principle.

Hurricane Sandy's path was North of the Chesapeake Bay.
Image from
Twice, the storm surge from Sandy moved to within a few feet of our shop, causing a lot of stress, but neither time did it quite get inside. We were extremely lucky. From the information I could find I believe that our storm surge was probably about 3 feet above mean high tide. Here are two, very different photos of David and the Annie Buck, one from the first day that the rain bands came ashore, the second taken during the storm, but a short time before the peak of the surge. Notice the differences in, not only the height of the water, relative to the pier, but also how much higher the boats are floating.

An average high tide here is not much higher than this.

This is a dangerous situation. The storm surge has reached a little under 3 feet.
If you could see the shorelines, the creek looks much larger than normal.
We were lucky around here. A lot of other people faired far worse and our thoughts are with them. I know that there was a whole lot of damage North of us. Depending upon how bad that damage is, this storm may be remembered for taking the tall ship "Bounty". Like most hurricanes, there are a lot of stories that will come out of it.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Dressing up The Annie Buck in The Eye of The Storm

Phase II of the Annie Buck's change over from her summer outfit to her winter outfit occurred as two incredible storms were on our doorstep: Hurricane Sandy (otherwise known as Frankenstorm) and the 2012 Presidential Elections. As I write this, the hurricane is bearing down on us, so if my writing seems a bit off, it's because I've got my mind in a few different places. This story is about yesterday and as I write it I don't know what the outcome of today will be...

David pointing to the winch on the boom. The mast is the pole
with the "whiskers".

It has to be done when it has to be done and on the day the rain bands were arriving in advance of Hurricane Sandy, it was necessary to install the mast and boom used for oyster dredging into the Annie Buck to be ready in time for the season.
About a month ago, I wrote about the removal of her canopy, a coordinated task involving the efforts of a number of Watermen and neighbors. This is a similar type of task. The mast is made of steel and, although I don't know exactly what it weighs, it weighs at least several hundred pounds. It is the long pole with the “whiskers”, which are steps to climb to its top for whatever maintenance might be required. The Boom is made from aluminum and it weighs somewhat less, but the winch attached to it adds a lot of pounds.

The boom comes out of the truck first.
All of the work was again supervised by“Keeper”, who knows all corners of the boat. Our part starts when we meet David at his truck, where he has somehow managed to load both mast and boom. They are precariously balanced, the weight bolstered by some people sitting on the truck-cab ends as if on a see-saw. The trip to the boat is about 500 yards and uneventful.

The mast has to be installed first, but the boom is on top, and so it is the first off the truck. It is placed out of the way, as much as it can be, on the dock.

The mast is all steel and quite heavy.
As it was when we removed the canopy, you find that it's a long distance from the decks of the boat to the floor, especially when you are carrying something heavy and even more so when there is a momentum to the object being carried, because of all of the people involved. Everyone has to be quick and careful and to be aware that if you are at the wrong part of the dock, or boat, it is easy to step off onto nothing and end up in the water.

Board being bolted to mast bottom.

The bottom of the mast is attached to a board which is bolted to the floor just behind the pilot house. That board is bolted to the mast first and then the mast is brought upright. There is a bit of finagling to get the bolt holes in the board to line up with those in the floor. When the holes are aligned, lag bolts are set in, but the mast is by no means secured.

Raising the mast.

What really controls the stability of the mast are the various lines running from the top of the mast to the bow of the boat and to points near the sheer line in the forward half of the boat. These lines are made of “wire rope” and their tension is controlled by long turnbuckles.

Securing the mast.

After the mast is in place, the boom is brought aboard and attached to its mounting point by a very sturdy assembly made of stainless steel. Of course, as we are doing all of this, there is a wall-like line of clouds in the SouthEast sky; probably the first part of Sandy... 

Bringing the boom aboard.

The boom is not raised yet to its normal spot. It doesn't need to be today. It's time for everyone to go and batten down the hatches at home.

I just want to say that it's clear as I write this, that  a lot of people that we know and love are going to be hit hard by this one. I hope that everyone fares well in Hurricane Sandy...

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Got Gas????

No, not that kind...

If you are a regular user of Cyano Acrylate glues, otherwise known CA as Super Glue, it's likely that you do.
"Gassing" is the white residue that appears around your glue joints, especially on dark surfaces, clear surfaces, or on shiny metal. It makes an otherwise perfect joint, look, not so perfect. Sometimes it's an indication that too much glue has been used. At other times, especially with gels, you may not have a choice but to use an amount of glue that makes gassing unavoidable.

One of the biggest problems involving gassing is that it might not show up until a day or two after you've made your joint. This can be fixed if you can get to the joint. I avoid using CA to close up cabin spaces on boats or airplanes, because gassing may not appear for quite some time and it may be amplified in small enclosed spaces, possibly frosting windows to an extent that blocks vision. This can be "visually fatal" to an otherwise impressive interior space.

If I used CA glue to close this up, Happie would have been miserable
and I would have been devastated.

In those situations I use non-gassing glues, such as type II carpenter's glue, epoxy or watch crystal cement, depending upon the specific situation. Of course, each glue has its own pluses and minuses.

Using a non-gassing glue made Happie happy.
If your gassing is in an accesible spot...

...relief from gas can be found on your grocery store shelf...
I am a believer in the concept that model makers can benefit from learning to see and use common things outside of their common context. Here is an excellent example. I found this method by accident years ago and it's helped me many times since:  Olive oil applied directly to gassing seems to make it disappear. There are cases where it doesn't do the job completely, but those are rare. I haven't found anything that works as well. What you have to bear in mind is that it is an oil, which could affect other nearby items in your model, especially unsealed wood or the adhesive of graphics tapes. I usually dedicate a very small artist's brush to the job which allows me to apply it precisely and sparingly. After it sits for a minute, or when I can see that the gassing is gone, I lightly dab the excess oil away with a corner of a paper towel. Give it a try!