Thursday, October 13, 2016

A Safe Space for Survivors

In spite of nature’s best efforts to derail my plans, in the form of Hurricane Matthew, they are proceeding apace, including the plan to design QUIDNON—the houseboat that sails. The hurricane provided a teachable moment on surviving hurricanes aboard boats, confirming many of my intuitions about what makes QUIDNON a safe design for any situation, hurricanes included.

We were in a mandatory evacuation zone, and although we could have sheltered in place, I decided to avoid subjecting my family to such an ordeal. And so we jumped in a rental car, drove away from the coast and sat out the hurricane in a motel room. When we got back, picking our way between piles of debris that were littering the roads, we found that the boat had suffered zero damage, but that the entire marina came within a foot or so of being annihilated: another foot of storm surge, and only some concrete pilings would have been left, with the rest of the marina, boats included, washed up on shore, with the boats crushed underneath the floating docks. In fact, this is what happened to many of the other marinas in the area. Since the height of the pilings was set a long time ago, when ocean levels weren’t rising as quickly and catastrophic storms were less frequent, this is going to be happening more and more frequently. Everyone here considers the fact that the marina survived something of a miracle.


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