Hurricanes and Boats

Simply put, hurricanes and boats don’t mix well.

Matthew is proving to be a pain in the ass for a lot of folks right now.  People in Haiti, soon Cuba and then the Bahamas.  After that, according to the models (which I want so desperately to disbelieve) Florida, and most of the East coast of the United States will be in for a bit of roughhousing as well.

Latest Tracks for Matthew

I’m far enough north that it should break up and just be a tropical storm by the time it gets to us, especially if it hangs over land for any length of time.

But for whatever reason (I can’t see the reasons) the models have pushed over to the west and it’s promising to be a beast.  I see a front coming through, and pushing out, and now there’s a dry, low pressure system in the middle of the US which may reach the coast about the same time, and that might be pulling the hurricane in somewhat.

On the other hand, there’s a mess of rain and another front west of that high.  It usually takes 3-4 days to cross the states with weather systems.  Hmmm.  MAYBE it will get to the coast in time to push some more.  I don’t know.  I’m not a forecaster, just a storm chaser that looks at the data and predicts local mesoscale conditions.  Hurricanes are big, bad, Red-Spot-on-Jupiter things to me and are as distant as that planet is from Earth for me.

I’ve been in two.  One hit DC a long time ago and water levels came up 8 feet up the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers.  The second was in Jamaica in the 2ooo, when it missed us by about 90 miles on the north coast of Jamaica. But… it RAINED like the ocean was pouring over us.  I’ve never seen so much rain for so long in my life.

The plan today is pretty simple.  Down comes the headsail and sheets.  I’ll remove everything off the deck and bring it below today and tomorrow.  And we will bring our tarps (we use as tents topside) below to cover things down here inside the boat.  JoAnne will pack and we will be ready to bug out sometime on Saturday morning most likely, because the predictions are showing it coming up this way Saturday night and Sunday morning.

The last of the preps will involve moving the boat out, adding lines and hoping for the best.  We’re not going to stay aboard the boat if the hurricane approaches us.  We’ll head inland and stay out of the path as much as we can.  I’m planning to take most of our clothes, our foulies, food, water, electronics, important papers, car and our mortal bodies away from here.  We went through a Nor’easter in the Bay… and that was not good, with the shallow Bay, short chop, poor JoAnne getting sick.  Staying in a Marina is not going to be much better.  And there’s little here to keep us safe, and in fact, it might be pretty unsafe to remain here.

I maybe take one of the ham rigs too, just in case.  We have terrible luck with the phones, so a ham radio might come in handy.

So, all my hoping and my “estimating” isn’t coming true.  All I can say is that the hurricane tarried a bit too long in the Southern Caribbean Sea and the weather that would have push him off is long gone now….

This sort of thing is, by the way, why I have been a “prepper” most of my life and even wrote a book about it.  I sure hope it all works right this time. 🙂

I guess that’s it for now.

If y’all believe in prayers… better get busy.  The entire coast of the US, Bahamas, Haiti and other poor people in between are all in danger’s path.

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Rick’s Thoughts on Pirates

This is not about the sailor that hoists the Jolly Roger at the local raftup, or the Parrot Head Pirate.  This is about real, modern-day pirates.

A sailor I know (cruiser and actual “Sailor”, former Navy SEAL) posted a link to Facebook a couple of days ago and I just got around to reading about it.  The article was about a pirate attack.  Not off the coast of Aden, not East Africa, not by Somalian Pirates; but by pirates of the Caribbean.

Andy Wasinger and Loretta Reinholdt relax on the beach at Jeanette Kawas National Park shortly after being rescued from the jungle following an attack by pirates in Honduras.

Andy Wasinger and Loretta Reinholdt relax on the beach at Jeanette Kawas National Park shortly after being rescued from the jungle following an attack by pirates in Honduras. (Ciro Vladimir Navarro Umana)

A couple from Canada recently were learning to sail with a hired skipper off the coast of Honduras.  Two weeks ago, retired nurse Loretta Reinholdt, 54, and former computer programmer Andy Wasinger, 46, set off in a 17-metre hired boat with a captain, heading from Belize to the Honduran island of Roatan.  Their purpose for being there was to learn to sail.  Instead they wound up being attacked by four armed men who boarded the boat and took them hostage, threatening to kill them for money.

https://i1.wp.com/travel.state.gov/content/dam/tsg-global/country-maps/ho-map.gif

“They were yelling,” said Reinholdt. “They were demanding more money. They didn’t believe we only had that amount. And the more angry they got, the more scary it was.”

“And,” she stated, “they actually had me, pulling my hair and a knife on my throat, demanding more money from the captain.”

Wasinger added: “I knew we had to comply with the pirates and not be heroes.”

The pirates then rammed the stolen boat into the shoreline of a remote beach in Jeanette Kawas National Park.

They cut the line to the main sail and tore out the engine wiring. They took the gasoline, the radio and the drinking water, leaving Reinholdt, Wasinger and the captain stranded in the jungle.

map of pirate ordeal

A map showing where the pirates grounded the couple’s sailboat in the Escondido Bay, and where the victims left SOS signals while they hid from the pirates in the jungle. (Google Earth )

The Canadian Government has put out substantial warnings about visiting Honduras.  The United States Department of State has at least one warning listed I could locate on the site:  http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/alertswarnings/honduras-travel-warning.html

In 2014 a Canadian from Calgary was killed for his iPhone during a night on the town, bar hopping with a couple of local women.   While this did not happen on the water, the murderers are still “pirates” after a fashion.  Every country, including the US and Canada has it’s pirates.  Pirates are real.  They have no remorse or compunction about taking something from someone else, especially if they have this “perception” the victim is weaker, has money, is Rich, is Norte Americano.  Honduras, indeed many small countries in Central America, and islands in the Caribbean do not have vast sums of money to go around, and iPhones are like gold.  Many of these countries count on tourism and believe me, many of us have spent large sums on vacations in the region in the past.

Canadian Tim Vallee was shot and killed while on vacation in Honduras, October 2014.

The last time I was personally in Honduras, I was getting shot at from bad guys across the border of Nicaragua.  I seriously have no intention of revisiting that sort of environment in my life time – at least not with any deliberate consideration of doing so.  My thinking is that Americans, Canadians – and really anyone who ventures out on a sailboat into areas which have issued warnings about them are taking their lives into the hands.

The other thinking that many cruisers have is that “The world be damned, I’ll go where I wish….” and I can respect that.  I tend to think along similar lines.  But, when there are stories of “pirates” who actually attack people, your best bet is to be forewarned.  Praemonitus, praemunitus. Forewarned is forearmed.  Knowledge of the preexistence of danger in an area gives one the ability to logically determine if they wish to place themselves into a dangerous situation.

In general, most sailors I’ve met are relatively cautious individuals.  Absolutely so, the cruisers I’ve met.  They study the weather, fix broken things, watch the skies, the tides, reef before they should and so forth.  But many pooh pooh the dangers of the human animal believing that human beings are, at the heart all good people.

In my travels, not sailing, but flying from place to place, I’ve visited 50 countries.  I’ve encountered good, bad, evil and angelic people throughout the world.  No country in particular has any more of it’s bad share of people than any other.  There are concerns for places in the Middle East these days; and though I have been there in the past I won’t visit in the future.  The Caribbean has a long, storied history of Pirates.  Some countries, in particular those of a third world nature tend at having desperate people who take desperate measures, whether to feed themselves, or their children is irrelevant to me.   But, desperation at times drives good people to do bad things.

Cruisers should be wary.  They should not advertise “wealth”.  They should not wear expensive rings, and jewelry and in fact don’t even bring it to the boat with you if you can avoid it.  Leave it to your children if you’re traveling for extended periods of time, or leave it home if you’re going back soon.  Don’t flash your phone.  Wear cheap sunglasses.  Dress down, unless visiting the Port Captain of course….  separate your money.  Keep a small amount of spending cash in a pocket, anything extra hidden or plan better and don’t bring extra at all on the islands or into town.

Do common sense things; avoid people who look like they are trying to scope you out.

Finally, if you hear of, or know of attacks inform the local authorities if you can and warn other cruisers away if you can. However, don’t pass rumors, only get the facts, dates, times and exactly what you know or saw, or experienced.  Don’t repeat others’ stories as “sea stories” because they get blown out of proportion, the truth gets lost and eventually people discount what was told because it sounds just too outlandish.

For those who absolutely believe in the good in humans I wish you luck and hope and pray your beliefs hold true.

For the rest of us, there are other measures to fend off “pirates”.

Whether we have to use those methods… or die trying, is obviously, ultimately up to each of us to decide.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/calgary-couple-survives-pirate-attack-on-sailing-trip-in-honduras-1.3027545

http://www.cruiselawnews.com/2015/04/articles/crime/canadian-couple-attacked-sailing-to-roatan/

http://bc.ctvnews.ca/b-c-man-killed-in-honduras-over-iphone-1.1003267

Update:

There was one other blog entry on this subject on 6 April 2014.  This does not only affect people who are cruising sailboats, a crew member from a large cruise ship was also killed, for his iPhone as well.

http://www.cruiselawnews.com/2014/04/articles/crime/ncl-crew-member-shot-killed-in-roatan-honduras/

Storm Chasing

Spent about 20 years storm chasing Mesoscale disturbances.  Have started watching hurricanes, if only through charts, maps, satellite images and computer data for the past 3-4 years. So I’m watching this new disturbance off the north east coast of Venezuela at the moment.

Looks to me, from all the weather charts I looked through this thing will probably develop to tropical storm level but the huge High Pressure system in the Atlantic might break into two pieces pushing west and east and forcing the storm system to move north across some of the Islands then push north east into the North Atlantic.

I’m no meteorologist of course and far from an expert on this stuff – but am trying to get better at it.  Let’s just see what it does.

 

This live satellite loop tracks the movement of the disturbance and shows the showers and thunderstorms approaching the Lesser Antilles.

 

Accuweather is saying something similar to me.  I think the storm will head to the right most path in the image below, at least roughly – affecting eastern PR but no further west.