Storing a boat is always a bit stressful. Storing a boat 1500 miles away from where you are is more so.
And storing a boat that is also your home, 1500 miles away, adds another layer.
Then add a hurricane.
As I write this, Hurricane Irma is gradually chewing up the north coast of Cuba, having already devastated much of the northern Caribbean island chain, the British Virgins, the US Virgins and southern Bahamas. She’s elected to drop slightly south of original forcast track and spared much of the mid- and northern- Bahamas, but that southern bend has put her over Cuba’s coast and – if the predictions hold (and it looks like they will) on a direct track to the Florida Keys and west coast – and that’s where we and family have our interests. Sionna’s boat yard is now at ground zero, as is the home of Nicki’s parents. The saving grace may be that we’re both somewhat inland, where the winds will be diminished a bit by land, but it’s still going to be a bumpy ride.
Relative, in that for a normal storm of, perhaps category 2 (95 kts/110mph), they’d be well placed.
But Irma isn’t playing normal. The water temperatures in the Florida Straits are very warm this year, about 90 degrees, and all that energy is going to add to Irma’s wrath as she crosses. She’s forecast to make a landfall on Marathon as a full Category 4 storm, with sustained winds of up to 136kts/156mph.
For reference, keep in mind that each doubling of wind speed multiplies the force that wind applies is increased by 4-times. Category 4 winds will flip a car and carry it away.
5 years ago, Nicki and I spent our honeymoon in the BVI, sailing between the numerous islands of the Drake Channel, and just generally chilling out. We walked long the beach path at the Bitter End Yacht Club – which is what you see in the picture to the left. Sort of.
But my point here is not to make a spectical of the damage this storm has done, and will do. It’s to help bring awareness to the plight of islanders all along the storm’s path. The destruction we’ll likely see in Florida will be horrific enough, but we on the mainland have the resources and transportation facilities to begin rebuilding and stabilizing almost immediately.
Not so in the islands. These are poor people, poor nations. There are no Home Depot stores or CVS pharmacies there. There are no trucks. In many places, there may not even be a hammer to be found – they’ve all been swept away in a 220 mph wall of wind.
So I’m asking you to help, as you’re able. Do a little research to find an aid organization that’s trustworthy and send some money. Donate your time, if you find a way. If you’re a cruiser, consider coordinating your trip to the islands with an aid group and fill your boat with building materials, rather than food and booze. Stay for a week to unload and help. Right now, the islands don’t need tourists – they need help.
Nicki & I have been planning to cruise in the Bahamas this winter, but depending on the ultimate conditions there following the Hurricane season, we may pursue doing relief work instead.
To paraphrase: “Now is the time for all good people to come to the aid of their fellow man.”