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Two Cranes and a Rabid Rabbit
Storm tossed boat returned to the water
October 19, 2018

sailboat at dock is a common sight in Oriental. A sailboat on a dock is not. When a hurricane comes to town, expectations of ‘normal’ have to shift a little.

Florence pushed water levels to over 9 1/2 ft higher than average. Sustained high winds tore apart roofs. Combined, the two forces of nature displaced cars, moved outbuildings from their foundations, and pulled vessels from their moorings.

In the case of Rabid Rabbit, a Morgan Out Island 41, Florence shifted her berth from a slip at ‘A’ Dock at Oriental Harbor Marina to the top of ‘A’ Dock at Oriental Harbor Marina. Easily seen from the Oriental Bridge, passing travelers stopped mid-bridge to snap pictures. The alternatively docked sailboat was a testament to a hurricane’s power and a symbol of Oriental’s new normal.

Rabid Rabbit
A first look at Rabid Rabbit after Hurricane Florence balanced her on A Dock between the pilings.
Rabid Rabbit
The odd sight presented an excellent opportunity for photographers. (Photo Eifel Kreutz)

In the first days, it looked as if the boat would self launch from the pilings. Continued high winds from the remnants of Florence rocked Rabid Rabbit on her piling pedestal. The longer she remained out of water, the more gravity pulled her down. Her hull was eventually holed from the pinpoint pressure of the pilings. The hog slat dock cracked beneath her keel.

Rabid Rabbit
After a few weeks, the pilings supporting the hull begin to make and impression.
Rabid Rabbit
A Dock at Oriental Harbor Marina, after Rabid Rabbit’s removal.

Part of ‘A’ Dock became inaccessible. Except to those with wings; the thousands of gulls migrating into Oriental in Florence’s wake found a safe haven on the other side of Rabid Rabbit.

Rabid Rabbit
Gulls crowd the dock beyond Rabid Rabbit. A recording of distressed bird calls, and frequent dock visitors, usually keeps gulls away. The speaker system (and electrical power) was damaged in the storm.

Jud Gravel, Rabid Rabbit’s owner, lives in Vermont. He’s had the sailboat docked at Oriental Harbor Marina the last 4 years. Absent for the hurricane, he and his family traveled south for the boat’s removal.

Gravel’s insurance company subcontracted Bobby Cahoon Marine Construction to remove the boat. After surveying the situation, Cahoon called in backup from Harker’s Island; it would take two cranes to lift Rabid Rabbit from her posts.

Rabid Rabbit
Jud Gravel, owner of the Rabid Rabbit.
Rabid Rabbit
The skull on the bow of the ship is the logo of punk rock band The Misfits.

Nearly one month after Hurricane Florence took Rabid Rabbit out of the water, two barges bearing one crane each came to put her back in. Sidling up to ‘A’ Dock, the barges began their work. The barge from Harker’s Island carried an excavator and dropped its arm into the water as a counterbalance; it was going to need it. Men climbed over Rabid Rabbit, threading straps under her, creating a sling.

Working in tandem, the cranes lifted Rabid Rabbit above the dock, their barges listing under the weight. A temporary patch was quickly put in place and she was carefully lowered back into the water. Tied to the dock wall, opposite her original slip, she floated there for a few more days until Gravel could change the battery and start the engine.

Rabid Rabbit ended up at Deaton’s Yacht Service, on the hard in the “Do It Yourself” yard, where Gravel began making permanent repairs to her hull.

Rabid Rabbit
In the air: Rabid Rabbit gets a lift from Bobby Cahoon Marine Construction.
Rabid Rabbit
In the yard at Deaton’s Yacht Service.
Rabid Rabbit
It looks wrong, but it worked. The instant hull patch put on by the crane crew.

Rabid Rabbit’s removal was a spectacle. The video shows how they did it: cranes, barges, audience and all.

See Rabid Rabbit get a lift…

Posted Friday October 19, 2018 by Allison DeWeese

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