Monday, November 12, 2012

The Gypster gets a nose job.

Hurricane Sandy has pretty much sidelined the last bit of racing for this season so we may as well get on with boat building/rebuilding  projects with an eye towards the Mid-Winter Regatta next February.  With that in mind I approached Classic Moth builder extraordinaire Joe Bousquet to see if he was interested in modifying my wooden Europe design Moth Gypsy.  A previous owner had asked Joe to modify the boat's foredeck about 10 years ago to increase the room under the boom.  The old rule for Classic Moth Boats stated that the boom could be no higher than 12 inches above deck height.  This was alright for juniors and smaller adults but problematic for larger, older sailors.  A common way to beat the rule was to increase the crown of the foredeck by an exaggerated amount and thus raise the boom.  Joe did so and the result can be seen in the third photo down in this earlier post.  While this humpy foredeck does get the boom off the skipper's back and in fact did meet the letter rather than the spirit of the rule, it is an inelegant solution to live with in terms of both storage in the boat house and while trailering or car topping the boat to regattas.  Thankfully the class voted to change the rule regulating boom height above the deck and so humpy foredecks are no longer an advantage.  Plus, opinions are divided as to the esthetics of such foredecks.  I personally don't care for them.  With the boat in my ownership, it was time for that hump to go.  Yes, I could have hacked it off myself but I'll be the first to admit that my level of craftsmanship is inferior to Joe's and Gypsy is too pretty a boat for a hack job.  I also have a bad habit of starting projects and then taking forever to finish them.  It turned out that I had a carbon fiber boom that Joe was interested in and he had a break from repairing the rowing shells for the crew team at Catholic High School where he teaches math--a deal was agreed to and so last Saturday Gypsy and I made the four hour trip from diarist HQ to Norfolk, Virginia.

Gypsy next to my stock Europe Ooh La La.  The difference in foredeck height is obvious.

Another look.  The "surgeon" is getting ready for the operation.

Scalpel, forceps, sabre saw...  The first cut is the hardest.

After that it's just "get 'r done".

The Master inspects his prior work.  The interior of the bow tank was remarkably in good condition after over ten years of hard racing.  A testament to Joe B's workmanship.
Joe switches to a circular saw to cut close to the rails.  How steady are your hands?

The foredeck is gone and the well deck and bulkhead are next.  I plan to return the boat to a free standing mast.  No more standing rigging--Woo Hoo!

I'll trim this piece of the hump down a little and hang it in the boat house.  I may change the boat's name.  Now before she was named Gypsy, this boat was called Smuggler.  A persistent rumor has it that she was smuggled into this country with a shipping container load of International 14s returning from a European regatta. The story goes that when the container, filled supposedly with only boats of American origin, landed nothing was declared, the container never opened for inspection and duty was never paid.  I don't know if all this is a tall tale or if the boat's early name holds a chestnut of truth.  Suffice to say that I don't plan on instigating any attempts to run my boat's checkered past to earth--I'll just let sleeping smugglers lie!  I will think it over during the rehab and decide whether or not a nose job justifies a name change.  Stay tuned as this project progresses.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Hurricane Sandy Aftermath

A sign blown from the Promenade that fronts the sea at the north end of Brigantine Boulevard.  Hopefully both the sign and the affected parts of town will soon be restored.
Your diarist's house is located on the beach-block end of a street at about the mid-point of the island of Brigantine.  While it's almost ridiculous to talk about "elevation" on a mostly flat barrier island, the middle of the island is both the wide point and the high point of Brigantine Beach.  An extra 25 feet of elevation and and extra several hundred yards of beach before the dunes was basically the difference between getting flooded and staying dry.  We were extremely lucky and sustained no damage other than having a section of fence knocked down and a downspout from one of the gutters blown off.  I was able to repair both items the same day.  Others on the island, particularly on the north end and the bay side were not as lucky.  We took a ride to check on friends living on the bay side and passed street after street of people who were piling wet carpets, sofas, bedding, large appliances, sheet rock and all manner of household items on the curb for bulk trash pick up.  We limited taking photos of all that because it seemed callous to snap pictures of other people's misery.  What follows are some pix from the beach, the promenade, the yacht club and a limited number of other island locations. As of last week some streets were still blocked off by the police department.

Your diarist's summer HQ must be a lucky house.  I had a section of fence to nail back in place and a downspout to repair.
Other than that, the joint was still standing.
The sea had obviously come up to about the middle of the path through the dune as evidenced by this debris (part of someone's deck railing) but we didn't have the Ocean in our street or the dune inside the house like we did in the Ash Wednesday storm of '62.
Closer to the ocean side of the dune path it was clear that the sea had been gnawing at our defenses but thankfully, years of planting beach grass and the black pine seedlings that volunteer in our gardens apparently have paid off. 

The life guard shack from 21st Street drifted south several blocks before turning on its side.  Atlantic City's sky line can be seen in the background.
On the bay side of the island damage was more evident.  This is the BYC pier which goes out to the T-dock.  Compare this photo with the ones taken at fall workday a couple weekends earlier.
Although up from ground level by a couple of feet, the clubhouse still shipped about a half foot of water during the storm.  The club officers don't know yet if the appliances inside the clubhouse are damaged or not.
These are the wake boards from one of the docks at the club.  Fortunately someone was able to get a line on them before they drifted away.
I'm frankly amazed that this rack load of boats is still here.
The water was high enough to float these T-dock sections from where we had left them on work day to flagpole.  The trailer they are resting on is for one of the club's power boats.
Luckily, the boat off her trailer was resting on the pebbles by the bulkhead rather than sunk over in the marsh island.
With another nor'easter predicted to hit the coast this coming week, many people near the club elected to keep their windows boarded.
Other than a short laundry list of small damage, the club got off amazing well for being located right on the bay.
We drove up to the north end Promenade area.  The City had done a good job in the four days since the storm but there were still piles of sand at the curb that needed to go back to the beach.
Many houses had lost siding and here and there, roof sections on the exposed northeast sides.  A former Brigantine resident asked me if I thought that this storm was as bad as the nor'easter of  '62.  My opinion is that the two storms as well as the island's buildings are different.  The 1962 storm, although short in duration, left many houses completely shattered.  I didn't see a single example of that with Sandy even though she took the better part of three days to come and go.  One thing to keep in mind is that the houses that replaced those older homes are built on pilings, and although the materials are perhaps not as good, now as back then, the newer houses are designed and built stronger than the old ones.  On the other hand, there were areas at the north end and bay side where street after street was flooded and the residents were busy throwing out the entire contents of their homes for eventual bulk trash pick up.  This was very much the same story as back in '62.  During the '62 storm the entire island briefly went under water and pushed all of the dunes across the island and into the bay.  It took a year and a half to dredge and pump the sand back to the ocean side of the island.  Sandy didn't do that.  The photos I've seen from many northern New Jersey areas does show the type of damage we saw on Brigantine during the storm 50 years ago.  So, was Sandy as bad as the '62 nor'easter?  I think it depends on which town you look at.  Brigantine didn't get completely off the hook but I don't think we got the damage seen in other coastal towns to the north of our island and not the scope of damage seen in 1962.
The Promenade bulkhead sustained heavy damage.  A small sand beach used to cover the rocks at the base of the bulkhead.  You can seen "before" pix of this area at the tail end of part 1 of our north end beach walk from last summer.
This house stands just across the road from the Promenade bulkhead and was featured on a number of internet sites showing the ocean roaring over, through and around the bulkhead and straight into this house.  It's a testament to the strength of the newer buildings that this structure is still standing.
The City workers were busy removing sand from the streets and attempting to reshape the dunes.

We moved on and were pleased to see that the old Rod 'n Reel Cafe had weathered the storm.
Others were not so lucky.  There were many blocks of streets like this and worse.  We soon stopped taking pictures.

There is so much debris that the City has opened a temporary dump at a parking lot by the golf course.  It will take weeks to haul all the damaged things away.

Not everyone was working.  This kite surfer was enjoying the 30 knot winds left over from the storm.
We stopped to check on friends who live by the bay on West Shore Drive.  The house was OK but the garage had been flooded.  After cresting the bulkhead the water was mailbox high.  They are in the middle of restoring an old GP-14 sailing dinghy.  The dinghy must be a lucky boat because she'd floated from where she was stored, under an overhead deck on the bay side of the house, to the front of the house where the receding waters deposited her on the driveway.  She could have just as easily been swept over the bulkhead to who knows where.

We returned home.  I got to work on the damaged fence and downspout and Diaristwoman took a beach walk.  The old hotel seemed to have come through the storm intact if a bit disheveled.

Those palm trees aren't long for this world even without another nor'easter.  The island will soon have it's first frost.
A random chair from someone's dining room.
The winds scoured the beaches revealing the black oil-stained sands.
I leave you with this photo of surf fishermen as a sign that normality will quickly return to our island.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Sandy--Trick or Treat?

The Governor's Evacuation Order has finally been rescinded and property owners can now return to the barrier islands (assuming that the roads are passable) to inspect damage and start the process of clean up.  Diaristwoman and I will go to Brigantine tomorrow.  The islands still don't have electricity so I'm bringing battery operated tools.  I'm hopeful that our house, which is located on a high point of the island, is still standing.  I've seen photos on the internet showing flooding in Brigantine where one can see just the tops of automobiles sticking above the flood waters (note to self: don't buy any used cars from New Jersey for a few years!).  All of those photos are from areas of the island that have a history of flooding during bad storms.

My benchmark storm, by which I measure all others (so far) is the Ash Wednesday Nor'easter of 1962.  That late winter storm put the whole island briefly under water and pushed the sand dunes across the island from the ocean side to the bay, and what sand wasn't left clogging roads and lawns was dumped into the bay.  It took a year and a half for dredges to pump the sand from the bay back to the ocean front of the island and many many years to build the dunes back up.  Many homes in Brigantine and up and down the Jersey shore were total loses due to that storm.  Our house was lucky.  We had 3 inches of muck in the lower level of the house and my father quickly put me in charge of a mop and ringer bucket to take care of that.  Later on, he hired a man with a road grader to scrape the foot of beach sand off the lawn and throw down some grass seed and that was it for our storm recovery efforts. The only other thing out of the ordinary with that 1962 storm was that we had a large propane tank from Lakehurst, New Jersey, which is about 75 miles north of Brigantine, deposited in our front yard.  The gas company eventually came and retrieved it.  I  hope our little house's run of luck has remained strong!  We shall see.  One thing in our favor is that the dunes are (probably were) much larger than in 1962.  I've heard from another club member that BYC's docks took a hit but it appears that our clubhouse wasn't flooded.  I have seen photos from the Surf City Yacht Club on neighboring Long Beach Island and they aren't pretty

Finally, a few days ago President Barack Obama and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie inspected the damage on Brigantine.  It's never a good thing when major politicians come to "inspect" your town after a big storm.  The only thing we're missing is a crew from the Weather Channel!

Did I get a Trick or a (lucky) Treat this Halloween?  From left to right, our scary Halloween Jack O'laterns: Brigantine Mayor Phil Guenther, President Barack Obama and NJ Governor Chris Christie.