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Irene At Vandemere and B&B Yachts
A Camp Is Swamped, A Yacht Builder Cleans Up And Continues
September 7, 2011
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B&B Yachts

andemere is where naval architect Graham Byrnes lives with his wife Carla. Together they run B&B Yachts. Hurricane Irene’s storm surge came within an inch and a half of their home’s floor boards — duct work and insulation had to be torn out but on the whole, their home was okay.

The scene at the B&B Yachts shed, a day after Irene pushed the hulls being built for a 45-foot catamaran off their cradles. (Alan Stewart photo.)

Irene made herself felt a bit more at the B&B shop a few miles away, near the banks of the Bay River, where Graham’s been building a 45-foot-long power catamaran for the past year. Graham and Carla’s daughter, Beth Bucksot, jokes that Irene gave the two 45-foot Airex hulls an early sea trial.

When more than four feet of water got in to the boat building shed, the hulls rocked upward and sideways in their cradles. The hulls are not yet attached and one was left at a 30 degree angle, Graham says. It took two days to get the two hulls true and level again.

It took two days to get the hulls — with their distinctive bulb bows — sitting level and flat in their cradles after Hurricane Irene floated them askew. This photo was taken on a visit to B&B Yachts 6 days after Irene.

Graham says one preparation strategy for Hurricane Irene might’ve been to drill holes in the hull so that water could get in and keep it from being buoyant. But he was wary of putting otherwise unnecessary holes in a hull.

Like others in Pamlico County, Hurricane Irene’s floodwaters took him by surprise. The circumnavigator and Australia native and veteran of many other Pamlico County hurricanes says he just didn’t expect as much storm surge.

The water got to just under the 9-1/2 foot mark on the tree outside Graham Byrnes’ B&B Yachts yard outside Vandemere.

In a bit of untimeliness, the two engines for the catamaran arrived the week before Hurricane Irene. That left Graham with the challenge of keeping them high and dry. He put each on a pair of metal drums. To keep the drums from floating, he drilled holes in them. Engines mounted on drums stayed in place and high and dry during the worst of Irene.

Graham Byrnes and his daughter, Beth Bucksot. Beth says that Irene gave the power cat hulls their sea trial. Graham’s worked for a year on the boat, which he’s building for a customer.
Hurricane Irene engine mounts at B&B Yachts. Metal drums with holes in them— to render them non-buoyant — kept the engines away from water. It’s what you do when engines are delivered a week before a hurricane.

Faring less well was his computer. It went under water and with it, notes from the last month as he fine-tuned the catamaran’s design. “I was slack,” Graham says, about backing up the data. So far, he’s tried a rinse, an alcohol soak and was going to try a new battery.

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Posted Wednesday September 7, 2011 by Melinda Penkava

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