24 Hours to Earl

Today was a ballbuster – starting with the purchase of a new chainsaw, two gallons of gas, some files,  more flashlight batteries. But otherwise a sunny, hot day, finding me glued to the National Weather Service for the 8 am advisory, then out to the big boat for one last round of worrying and fiddling. As I was ready to leave my phone flashed a voice mail from a friend who said to call him, he had another alternative for me to ride out the maelstrom.  As his boat is in Rhode Island his 2,000 pound hurricane buoy was vacant and I was welcome to it. I jumped into the motorboat, headed up harbor to check it out, phoned his wife, went ashore to pick up a mooring bridle, and an hour later was riding on a massive mooring with a mooring float the size of half-submerged Volkswagen.

That was the morning. As soon as I got ashore I scarfed a lunch and headed back out with my son to start bringing the Cotuit Skiff fleet ashore for the planned 5 pm pulling of the boats. The Cotuit version of a barn raising only somewhat in reverse. We pulled the boats ashore with the motorboat two at a time, lining them up along the yacht club beach — back and forth for two hours until some reserves arrived and another boat was pressed into service. I turned to the yacht club’s motorboats and other equipment and at 5 the pulling began to accelerate, with four trucks and trailers in constant circulation between the boat ramp and the beach and the Ropes Field at the top of the hill, a big four acre pasture near the ballpark where the fleet has always sought refuge during big blows.

The field filled up over the span of two hours, and just as the sun set and the boat ramp was clogged with panicked boat owners trying to get their boasts out before darkness, I made one last run for a friend, got his catboat into the field, then locked things up and waited for another friend to return from a hurricane hole in Popponesset Bay where he was stashing his antique catboat for the duration.

The Cape and Islands are operating under a hurricane warning. The current track has it passing sixty miles east of Chatham — that’s eighty miles from me, but it seems pretty certain that we’re going to be under hurricane conditions from 8 pm Friday until dawn Saturday, with three to six inches of rain, sustained winds of 50 knots, and gusts into the 70s.

I’ll make one last run out to the big boat in the morning, check the chafing gear, then help pull the yacht club pier out of the water.  My motorboat will get hauled, then a late trip for a ton of ice since we’re certain to lose power and the refrigerators will fail, then settle in for an increasingly wild afternoon, culminating with a full hit at nightfall.

Author: David Churbuck

Cape Codder with an itch to write

7 thoughts on “24 Hours to Earl”

  1. Make sure you have plenty of whisky on hand. Nothing better when the wind is howling and the windows are shaking. Good luck.

  2. Congratulations on the pulling of the skiffs. The scene in Ropes Field is positively iconic. I took Sharon to see it and she had me stop at three different spots so she could take pictures. We noticed we were not the only ones getting pictures of the lovely array. It’s nice to hear that the storm is weakening. We’ll hunker down and ride it out.

  3. LOL, I always wondered what that field was for. Sure, I usually see a big white poodle running laps there, but I was pretty sure it wasn’t just for him.

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