Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Hurricane Paul

It was late September when Hurricane Miriam turned out to be a false alarm. Many relieved sailboats had gathered in the vicinity of Puerto Don Juan's hurricane protection. With the storm breaking up and a crowd already gathered, an impromptu meeting of the party committee determined that the time was right for a full moon celebration. Trisha was adamant that the announcement of the party should, in no way, suggest the end of hurricane season. Hurricane season goes on through October and it makes no sense to tempt the fates. On September 30, a group of nearly thirty cruisers got together for a potluck on the sandy spit in Puerto Don Juan. It was the best party of the summer.

Early the next morning, two of the boats weighed anchor and began their hurried trip south. Trisha and I were in no hurry, planning to take our time cruising around Animas Bay and burning up more of the hurricane season clock before leaving the safety of the northern Sea. Nearly two weeks had gone by when we found ourselves anchored with five other boats in Bahia San Francisquito. The next leg for all of us was an eighty mile, overnight passage to Santa Rosalia. Rumor had spread through the anchorage that the marinas in Santa Rosalia were full with boats waiting to get in. With a tropical storm brewing in the south and a Norther forecasted to be blowing through in a day or two, we thought it best to stay put rather than travel eighty miles only to find no room at the inn. The other five boats headed to Santa Rosalia.

The boat rolled wildly the day of the Norther driving us to the brink of insanity. After a long day the local weather finally settled down, but we kept a close eye on that tropical storm. The storm became better organized and was given the name Paul. Three times a day we downloaded and analyzed the forecasts from the National Hurricane Center. We strategized about what we will do if it comes our way. At four in the morning on Tuesday, October 16, the latest forecast indicated that our worst case scenario was becoming reality. An hour later the anchor was up and we were on our way back to the shelter of the nearest hurricane hole, Puerto Don Juan. During the nine hour trip we enjoyed flat water, light wind, a nice push from the current and several pods of dolphins swimming nearby. It was like the calm before the storm.

We arrived in Don Juan to find very calm conditions and four other sailboats at anchor, including our friends on Moondance and Grace. The good news was that the latest forecast showed Paul weakening. As darkness fell, I began to think that we burned all that diesel fuel for nothing. Any regret quickly faded the next morning when the wind came up and it started raining. Our morning has been quite rainy and windy with sustained winds in the twenties and several gusts to thirty knots. Don Juan is protected by hills on all sides, so when it's windy in here it's quite awful outside, especially in places like Bahia San Francisquito.

Admittedly, our hurricane avoidance practices are quite conservative but we are happy with the results.

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1 comment:

  1. Glad to hear that you are all safe and sound and that Paul has passed!