Hurricane Joaquin

We arrived at Galesville, MD at the Hartge Yacht Harbor marina a few days ago to meet up with a friend of ours who took the time to drive up from Woodbridge, Va. It was much closer for us to stop here and him to drive than for us to head down to the Potomac and hope we could get far enough up river to make it convenient for him.

Instead, Phil went out of his way to drive up and deliver equipment we had left in his care, all intact and ready to go.

Thank you Phil!

In the mean time… a small tropical depression started developing off the coast of Africa, moving slowly westward, building in strength and speed until he was named Joaquin.

Personally, I feel the name is both ridiculous and laughable. In fact, I’m not even sure what the name means in whatever language from which it comes but it’s not even pronounced well in my opinion. But that’s just me I reckon. (Actually, none of that is terribly true, and I know that Joaquin is the Spanish version of a Hebrew name which has something to do with Jehovah – but none of that is here, nor there when I am writing.)

What Joaquin DOES mean to me is that it is currently a Category IV hurricane beating be the bejuzus out of the Bahamas at the moment. It’s also a storm that has been damned difficult for meteorologists and hurricane experts to tie down to any one particular path.

I’ve seen a dozen different models of the storm’s projected path and NONE of them coincide with a second one. This has been most unusual and strange for over the last few years I’ve been watching hurricanes with interest and studying them.

Apparently I missed the course on “stupid hurricanes with stupid names who won’t follow one stupid path”. Or something.

Joaquin, as of tonight is projected to slam into Bahamas some more tonight and tomorrow (and please keep those folks in your thoughts and prayers because the islands where it is centered are low islands and could be swept clean of life there…..)

Yesterday at 6pm the center of the storm was projected to come right up the center of the Chesapeake Bay and go right over our heads. Yikes. Eye and all. Tonight, as of the moment I copied and pasted that image above, it will miss us BY THAT MUCH.

Now, something you should all understand that cone is a cone of uncertainty actually. The eye can fall ANYWHERE within the cone. Including as far left as the edge. So, theoretically the eye/center could wind up coming to landfall anywhere from the Carolinas to Nova Scotia. Yuk.

Me not being an ancient mariner – ok, let me qualify that by saying my kids and grand kids think I am ancient, and technically I AM a mariner, but I’m not THE Ancient Mariner – I have little knowledge except book learnin’ about what to do in a hurricane. Most books say “Run like hell puny humans!”

Unfortunately, I’m both puny in comparison and stuck where I am sitting right now.

JoAnne is scared, a little bit. I’m calm, cool and collected and have faced many dangers in my life, but nothing quite like this. So, technically. I’m only “semi-petrified” at this point.

But to put things in perspective, JoAnne spent her day doing laundry, in a nice, warm, dry room up at the marina. Me, I stood or sat in the dinghy, sometimes with water over my ankles today (as it is raining like cats and dogs here) while I put rubber hose over all the lines connected to the mooring ball to prevent the lines from rubbing through.

I’ve added three lines to the ball in three different places, in the hopes that if one snaps, the other two will hang on for dear life, and if two go, that last one is the last, best hope for the boat.

I have two 50 pound anchors sitting there which, at a critical moment may be kicked off the boat into the water to hold us against a tidal surge.

That brings me to the critical moment. I’ll have to be on the boat for that.

I have rented a Jeep and JoAnne can flee. If it is looking bad, I’ll send her off to some place safe and I’ll stay here with a radio to run the engine if I have to drive it at a stand still against winds.

However, I do NOT foresee any of this happening.

When it comes right down to it I might chicken out, but I don’t think so. This boat is really all we have. I trust my luck (I dunno why, I’ve never won the big lotto….) to help the boat. The boat is our home. I can’t let the boat down and I can’t let JoAnne down.

I believe that John Casey once said of sailing that it is 90% boredom, 10% terror. Or words to that effect. So far, I’ve had my few moments of sheer terror when not one, but TWO ghost trawlers (not little ones mind you,. giant assed, Deadliest Catch boats with rigging extended to look like evil Transformer-Terminators who click on their lights after passing silently me 4 miles off the coast of New Jersey at 2 AM or so. I think they were being asses and saw me on radar and did what they did to scare me. They did.

My radar isn’t working…. what can I say.

This hurricane is not something that one can easily wrap their mind around. I’ve been in two before. Neither of them were that close, probably passing center about 90 nm distant. We got lots of rain, but not a lot of wind.

If we’re lucky, this will happen with Joaquin. If we’re not we get to experience sheer terror. Again.

I’m hoping for the former experience, not the latter.

So, this likely my last entry for a few days. The storm is due to be passing here about Tuesday now (was going to be Saturday, but it has slowed down and hasn’t yet turned this way).

We will be sitting on this mooring ball a few more days.

Saturday or Sunday I will begin removing the rest of the stuff topside. Any lines I can remove, all the canvas I can take down. I’m not going to worry about the safety lines because the boat has enough freeboard that a few wires aren’t going to make a bit of difference in the resistance.

And that my friends is that for now. I’ll be around Facebook on and off as I can, and my kids and family can reach either of on our phones or text messages as long as we have power to the surrounding area. When the power goes out, the cell towers will go dark not long after, so please be aware if we lose electricity to the local area we lose internet.

If we lose the cell towers, we’ll be out of communication until we can get a message out.

Remember this though, we’re hams and we’ll get a message out. One way or another.

When all else fails, Amateur Radio. 🙂

See you guys on the other side – unless I can publish before the hurricane hits. Oh. Expect pictures if I can get them safely.

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