09/05/2006: "Tropical Storm Ernesto"
Tropical Storm Ernesto passed by last Friday. The eye of the storm passed about 50 miles west of us. After the storm crossed Florida it went back out to sea and increased in strength, coming ashore at just below hurricane strength. The computer models had it coming ashore in South Carolina and passing further west of us. As the storm got closer it moved more to the east and ended up coming ashore at Cape Fear, just south of Wilmington. Thursday we got ready, doubling the dock lines, lashing down the sails, and securing the dinghies. Then we waited. Had the storm upgraded to hurricane status we would have had to move out of the marina and anchor out for the duration of the storm.
Around midnight the outer bands of the storm started coming through with strong winds from the southeast and heavy rain. About one in the morning I went on deck to check the lines and make some adjustments to keep us off the dock and away from the pelican poles. At this point the rain was blowing almost horizontally and I was completely soaked but we were sitting better. The rest of the night was spent listening to the wind, rain, the slap of the waves on the hull and sticking my head out the forward companionway several times shining a flashlight around to check things out. The wind was blowing across the creek and was building surprisingly big waves for such a short fetch. The wind was also driving water into the creek and the water rose about three feet.
Friday was a work day for both of us so we needed to get up early to check if the company was going to be closed for the day. Between 4:30 and 5:00 in the morning the wind shifted from the south and increased into the 60+ range as the eye of the storm moved pass. At this point it was bout 50 miles west of us, a lot closer then they had forecasted. The wind was howling and the boat was heeling over in her slip putting a lot of strain on the dock lines. At 5:00 we called the work weather line and found out that we were expected to show up on time. At this point I thought they were crazy; there was no way we were getting off the boat with the high water and the wind blowing this hard. As we got ready for work the wind started to drop as the eye moved on. When the wind shifted from the south it also started to push the water out of the creek and the water level was dropping. The jump to the dock wasn’t that bad and the rain had let up so we made it to the car alright. Less then a mile down the road we had a tree across the road; we were able to move it out of the way and made it to work on time.
During the rest of the day the weather continued to improve and by evening we were back to partly cloudy with intermittent showers. The forecast for the weekend was looking up.