Thursday, October 06, 2016

How Hurricanes Impact Cruisers

Port Charlotte, FL

I'm on a hurricane break from my painting chores.  Actually, we are far enough away that we will see only minor weather effects.   But it lets me sit back and think about others.

  • P&W left their boat on a mooring in Vero Beach.  They are out of town.  Chances are, that their boat will be OK.
  • B&S interrupted their migration south.  They won't resume until the coast is clear (pun intended), and after hearing that the ICW is clear of shoals and debris, and that facilities are reopened.
  • B&J are planning to defy the evacuation order and stay at their house with their boat at the marina nearby.  Chances are, nothing bad will happen to them or their boat.
  • My niece K&P, bought plywood to board up thier house.  Other friends, D&J are hurricane veterans.  Their house has long had hurricane shutters.  P&W new place in Vero has modern high-tech three pane safety windows that claim to be immune to a coconut strike at 200 mph.
  • We hear of fellow cruisers stuck in the Bahamas.  Chances are, that some of them will loose their vessels, but keep their lives.
  • We have many friends still in Boot Key Harbor in the Keys.  The chatter today is that most of them did nothing to prepare for the chance that the hurricane might make a surprise turn.   Libby and I are probably like them.  We have perhaps too much faith in the weather forecast technology.
  • We know first hand only one man who just rides them out at sea.  This man had a CSY 37, a famous boat at least as seaworthy as a Westsail 32.  He sails single handed.  He told us that his boat was sandblasted by a hurricane at sea.  It stripped all the paint off.  But he, and his vessel escaped major damage.
It is the last story that's hardest to accept.  Mariners have always said that storms are best weathered far out to sea. Up at Hampton Roads, the US Navy fleet all leave port when warned of an approaching hurricane. I can't dispute that wisdom.   But it sounds awful.  I believe that Libby and I are like most modern cruisers.   We do it for fun.  We seek fun, but we really really avoid discomfort and unpleasantness.  We also jealously guard the safety of our home, Tarwathie.  

I think that my conclusion is that cruisers of earlier times were made of sterner stuff.  They accepted more risks, and more discomfort.   There are a few of them still around.  Hats off to them.  

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