Trying to Reason with the Hurricane Season

Props to Jimmy Buffett.

The last 24 hours have been spent in semi-frantic preparation for Fay.  The forecasts have been a bit erratic on this one, leading us to sometimes expect a Category 2 hurricane off Tampa, and sometimes a tropical storm further south and passing inland. It is looking like the latter for the moment.

It is really surprising to me for how large these storms are and how slowly they move, how quickly the situation can change.  An air of uncertainty always exists leading up to a hurricane. People wonder if they should prepare and how much.  If you wait to be sure, it will be too late since the weather starts getting bad long before the storm arrives.You almost need to be ready to either leave the state for everyforecasted storm, or to ride out a Category 5.  By the time you knowthe storm will be a Category 5 and that it has a reasonable chance ofhitting your area, the roads will be so clogged with people that youwon't be able to leave.  Your only choice then is to stay home or go to a shelter.

One must prepare with the mentality that it is better to do too much than too little.  It is a little disappointing to work so hard in preparation, feel you're in pretty good shape, and then have nothing happen.  I can understand how a few misses can make you lackadaisical, but nonchalance could also be deadly. 

Having prepared the house several times, it is almost a no-brainer now.  We've experienced the stress and last-minute scrambe for supplies and it isn't pleasant.  Since then we've hardened the house pretty well and live in a more prepared state.

You can't do this very well with a boat.  Boats are difficult to be usable and storm-ready at the same time.  As for any object in coastal water, "safe" is a very relative word.  The best thing you can do for a boat is pull it out of the water, take it inland, and anchor it to the ground.  And that only makes it about as safe as a mobile home.

This is the first time I've prepped Take Two, so I probably spent much more time than needed.  Much of the time was spent considering how much to do and how to do it.  But now that I've done it once, the next time it should go quicker.  I think I've prepared as much as I practically can.  I can only think of a few more things to do, but the cost-benefit is not attractive.  I pretensioned the awning, but did not remove the fabric from the frame.  I put out about a dozen lines, but not an anchor.  I could have run chain to the seawall instead of rope.  I took the jib off the furler, but only lashed the main to the boom instead of taking it off too. The next step on the preparation scale would include removing anything from the boat that I wouldn't like to see thoroughly immersed in salt water.

I feel that I'm in good shape for a Category 2 and have a fair chance for a Category 3.  There isn't much you can do to prepare for anything stronger.  The boat will survive or it won't.

The whole exercise did point out some weaknesses in my gear.  Faced with storm conditions, I really wish I had not procrastinated on replacing the fenders.  On our pier end the boat is not tied off to anything on the port side, but now she's in a safer slip where I can tie off both sides and I realize that I'm not at all happy about one of my cleats.  The fenders are ordered now, but rebedding the cleat will be a bigger job.

The docks have been awash in storm stories these last few days.  Hopefully there won't be any new ones.