We are still sticking close to North Palm Beach marinas, although quite honestly we feel we and the boat are ready to start cruising. But, as we had hinted with the last post, the bigger issue has been weather – of the tropical kind.
|A Busy Season in Tropical Storms. All This Was After|
Harvey Had FUBAR'd Southeast Texas.
As we began writing this post last week, Hurricane Irma had just spooled up to a category 5 storm and seemed to have intentions of plowing through the northern Antilles, the Bahamas, and then into the U.S. coastline. It did all of that and took on Cuba as well. But as we studied its potential paths we simply could not find a direction to sortie that did not put both boat and ourselves in jeopardy – any turn we could take after departing Lake Worth Inlet had a high probability of putting us directly in harm’s way.
|OPC Marina Empties Out Followig the Evac Order. That's Ghost Rider|
Looking Lonely in the Center of the Pic. The Floating Docks There Are
Certified for a Hurricane - As Long As No Boats Are Tied to Them.
So we sat, waited and watched. And we built our hurricane preparation checklist (which ended up taking up two full pages.) Old Port Cove marina issued evacuation orders late in the week, but we knew James had a slip for us up in Loggerhead Marina, a well-regarded hurricane hole just north of here and further up the more protected ICW. We were one of the last to leave OPC, and the normally crowded marina had an eerie aura about it as we passed dozens of empty slips on the way out on Friday, 09-Sep at 0930.
|A Closeup of the Radar Arch. The Rolled & Taped Bimini is Visible; the Radar|
Antenna is Tied & Taped; Those Vents are the Engine Room Exhaust, Covered with
Baking Mats and Taped.
The short trip up the ICW to Loggerhead was uneventful, even with some traffic congestion at the two drawbridges that we had to negotiate. We had Ghost Rider tucked into her new Loggerhead slip by 1030, with several Yacht Tech folks and Bernie Francis greeting us there to lend a hand with our storm preps. Bernie was kind enough to hang out with us for several hours to guide us in designing our “spider web” triple-tie-up. Once that was done (we used 17 lines) and we had her defended with 12 properly inflated fenders, we went to work on everything else on the boat….tying up, taping up, taping down, or taking down stuff -- basically stripping the outside and giving it the lowest windage profile that we could. After that we emptied the fridge and two freezers, taking all the perishables over to our friend’s nearby home. Once we were satisfied that we had done all that we could to prep the boat – it took us two days – we cut the power and turned off the inverter and all circuit breakers except for the bilge pumps.
|Gorgeous and Safe Place for a Hurricane Party|
Late on Sat afternoon, 10-Sep, we piloted our rental car a short 15 minute drive to stay with our good friends, Bernie & Silvia Carballo, who have a beautiful two story home in Admirals Cove, Jupiter. Their place is built like a fortress and has an enormous whole-house generator that’s plumbed to the city’s natural gas supply….apart from the adjacent canal system, it was the perfect place to ride out a big storm. And they had successfully weathered Cat-3 Wilma there back in 2005. We can't think of a better place for a hurricane party.
It was about this time NOAA / NHC began depicting a storm track that was shifting to the west following its hard turn to the north – better for us and the boat, not so much for our left coast friends, nor our Fort Myers condo and car. The cone of uncertainty still pretty much covered the entire state of Florida, and with the size of this beast it was a given everyone in the state would encounter hurricane force winds.
|What the RIB Tender Looked Like After Deflating & Tying Down.|
By the time Irma slammed into the lower Florida Keys early Sunday, 10-Sep, it was a Cat-3, having been weakened a bit by its run along the northern Cuban coastline. But its 120 MPH winds and surge nevertheless devastated the island chain. It was still a Cat-3 storm when it barreled through Marco and Naples, but luckily for FMY Irma coasted inland a bit from there and weakened some more. That’s about the time when we got the worst of it on the east coast as well – around 75 MPH sustained winds for several hours. While the entire state got a wicked strafing, fortunately it wasn’t nearly as bad as the original forecast had predicted.
|That's James Knight Prepping His Sailboat -- Moored Directly|
Behind Ghost Rider at Loggerhead Marina.
|Rick Getting Dizzy Working on the Stuff Up Top.|
In the end we just got really lucky. Certainly there was luck with the storm path and decreased intensity as it headed north; but we are also lucky to have the friendship and counsel of people like James Knight, Bernie Francis and Silvia & Bernie Carballo.
That said, we are mindful that scores of others were not so fortunate with this bruiser of a storm, and they have a long, painful road to recovery ahead. Our thoughts are with them. And the randomness of this messy experience is very sobering.
|Here is Ghost Rider AFTER the Storm. Everything is Still in Prep Mode|
But We Thought She Looked Pretty Damned Good.
|This Hangs Over the Entry to Ghost Rider II's Stateroom Door. When Cher Painted This for |
Us She Was Either Prescient or Really Good at Asking for Intervention. Either Way, It Sure
Seems an Appropriate Way to Conclude This Post, and We Thank Her.
Finally, here are some additional before, during and after pictures that hopefully will give you a sense of what is required when you are dumb enough to try and ride out one of these storms:
|The Weather Channel Confirming We're About to Get Hammered.|
|Another View of Ghost Rider in a Nearly Empty OPC Marina.|
|Bernie & Chelle Begin Tying Off at Our Loggerhead Slip.|
|More of Bernie & Chelle at Work on the Lines.|
|And More of That.|
|The Bimini and Antennae on the Fly Bridge Get Lowered & Tied / Taped Down.|
|Wider View of Boat Deck Preps.|
|Another Shot of the Tender / Boat Deck / Radar Arch / Davit Preps.|
|Fly Bridge Helm Preps.|
|You Can Never Have Too Many Fenders.|
|Or Too Many Lines.|
|Another View of the Radar & Bimini Tie Downs.|
|The Dorade Vents on the Bow Have to Be Plugged -- Lacking a Plate, a Forespar|
Truplug Will Fit Perfectly.
|We Installed the Storm Panels on the Salon Windows. And, No, Those|
Fishing Rods Did Not Stay There, They Went Into the Laz.
|James Had to Prep His Own Boat as Well as a Bunch of Nordhavns.|
|Post Storm: Downed Tree at Loggerhead Marina.|
|Post Storm: Ghost Rider Looking Very Good.|
|Post Storm: Ghost Rider & Chelle Both Looking Happy|
|Post Storm: Ghost Rider Cleaned Up & Put Back Together|
|Post Storm: Another View of Ghost Rider Back in Pre-Storm Form.|
|Hurricane Party Preps in the Carballo Kitchen.|
|And the Resulting Yummy Hurricane Party Dinner.|