Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Storm a-comin' ...

On Sunday morning it looked like hurricane Irene, which was just aiming toward Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, might be on a path that could take it right across the Florida Keys and on up through the state.  Jeff Grant at our marina gave me a call and said he'd be getting boats ready for the onslaught starting on Monday, so I decided to drive over and prepare Alizee.

I arrived Monday around noon, and already it looked like Irene's course was moving east of Florida's Gulf Coast, but since I was already there, I went ahead and added lines, put a Jacobs Ladder on the mainsail, hooked up the main halyard at the foot of the boom to give added support to the topping lift, and threw on a couple of more fenders.  The head sails are already off the boat and on the shelf in Advanced Sails' loft, after having new sunbrella added to the leaches.  The loft's owner Keith is good enough to store them there until we can get them back on the boat in October.  The only thing I didn't do was to remove the dodger and bimini.  Instead, Jeff agreed to remove them and put them below if Irene suddenly turned back toward the Gulf Coast, or in the event of another storm hitting St. Petersburg in the next several weeks.

So, Alizee is ready for Irene, but Irene seems bent on wreaking havoc in the Bahamas rather than Florida.  On the course she's now following, she'll miss Florida completely but is surely going to go right up through the far Bahama islands.  We remember anchoring all along Cat Island, one of our favorites, and along Eleuthera, and now we cannot help but think of the residents of those spots that welcomed us so warmly last year.  Perhaps Harbor Island and then the islands surrounding the Sea of Abaco will be spared the worst, but they'll still get hit pretty hard as well.  Of course the eastern seaboard is on alert, and Irene still remains a really threat to North Carolina, as her track points northeasterly toward Long Island and Massachusetts.  I zoomed in on the Stormpulse map and saw that Irene will probably come awfully close to Oriental, where I was when tropical storm Hanna came through in September 2008.  That was pretty rough and I can't imagine Oriental Harbor standing up well to even the edge of a category two or three storm.  Well, at least I find that our friends Karl and Lucy Lichty have sold their boat Lu Sea, so they don't have that to worry about.  But we wish all the best to other sailors in and around Oriental.


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