It became clear as the days went by that we were in the cone. Unfortunately, this isn't the kind of cone that's filled with chocolate ice cream. This is the kind of cone that's chock full of nastiness which can leave devastating destruction and loss of life in its path.
Indiantown Marina, where I live on our Moody 346 sailboat, Tickety Boo, is considered to be a hurricane hole. It lies in a protected area inland about halfway between Stuart and Lake Okeechobee. Because the marina is situated off of the St Lucie Canal behind a lock, it's protected from storm surge. If you've seen the pictures of the flooding that Matthew has caused or pictures of boats washed up on shore, you'll know how devastating storm surge can be.
In the days leading up to Hurricane Matthew's arrival, boats started heading into the marina from the coast to hide out. Many of the boats, especially the super expensive ones, are members of the Hurricane Club. For an annual fee of $250, they get priority when it comes to being hauled out in the event of a hurricane. (They still have to pay the standard haul out and storage fees on top of the Hurricane Club membership fee.) The parking lot basically became a boat storage yard. Even if I had wanted to get hauled out, I wouldn't have been able to as so many Hurricane Club boats made their way to Indiantown.
While the ladies in the office and the Travelift crew were working overtime to get everyone situated, I was busy prepping Tickety Boo for the hurricane. While we would be protected from storm surge here, the winds were forecast to be brutal. This meant I needed to remove as much windage from the boat as possible (i.e., anything the wind could grab a hold of) and making sure she was securely tied up in her slip.
Fortunately, the sails and anchors had already been stored away, so my focus was on doubling up my lines where possible, adding fancy chafe protection in the form of duct-taped towels to the lines, getting everything out of the cockpit, taking down my American flag and removing the sun shade and canvas.
Everything went smoothly until I tried to take down the canvas. The term "canvas" is shorthand for the dodger, bimini and connector piece which provide cover over a boat's cockpit. Here's what ours looks like on Tickety Boo. The previous owners had it made in Grenada and it's in relatively good shape. Or so I thought.
When I went to unzip the dodger from the bimini, I found that the zippers were seized up and I couldn't get then to budge. I was starting to have a minor meltdown when my friends Matt and Jessica popped by to check in. Perfect timing! Matt is a life saver. He dismantled the frame and we managed to fold and tie down the dodger and bimini. Not an ideal solution, but the best that could be done in the time we had to get ready for Matthew.
In the process, I ended up ripping part of the canvas off of a track while we were taking it off and some of the snaps broke. I needed to do some repair to the canvas anyway, so once I can get the zippers off (thanks to everyone for the great tips on how to do this on our Facebook page), I'll start in on this sewing project on my Sailrite.
Once Tickety Boo was all squared away, I made sure that I had enough food to last me for days in case we lost power. I also filled up my tanks and jerry cans so that I would have drinking and washing-up water.
After I was as set as I could be, I joined Matt and Jessica on the patio to chill out with a beer or two while we waited for our friends, Michele and Bruce, to make their way from Sunset Bay Marina in Stuart to Indiantown. While we were there, Matt and Jessica made a video on their hurricane prep for their new You Tube channel.
After Michele and Bruce got situated, we all went out for a "last supper" at the local Guatemalan/Mexican restaurant. We savored every bite, not knowing if it might be our last hot meal for awhile. I tried to get to sleep early knowing that I would probably be up all of the following night with the hurricane.
At one point, I started dreaming that my boat had been boarded by pirates in search of treasure. After a while, I realized it wasn't a dream. People were actually on my boat. I dashed up top to find a boat trying to get into the slip next to me in the middle of the night.
We had been told that two boats would be coming into the two empty slips next to me, but when they didn't show up that night, all of the nearby boats tied off to the piling between the slips. When a hurricane is coming, the more lines you can have securing your boat, creating a sort of spider web, the better. You can see the piling in this picture, along with a very expensive fishing boat in the slip across the way.
Because we had lines blocking off the slip the boat was trying to get into, someone had boarded my boat to release it. I joined in the midnight fun and we all pitched in and ended up getting the boat settled into her slip. I'm amazed that this guy was able to maneuver into the slip without hitting me or the fishing boat.
I trundled back to bed, desperate to get some shut-eye. Just as I was drifting off to sleep, I started to hear noises. Not the usual noise of the turtles banging against my hull, but a strange noise inside the main cabin. I searched and searched and searched to try to figure out what it was, but no luck. As I tried to fall back asleep, I heard it again, right next to me. I turned on the light and there was the culprit - a tree frog. I guess he was just trying to find a safe place to hide out from the hurricane too. Eventually, I managed to trap him and escort him outside. By this time the sun was coming up and Matthew was heading our way that evening. Oh well, sleep is overrated.
That morning, I did a few last minute things like remove the portable A/C unit, unplug from shore power, turn off the fridge and wait. Waiting is the worst part. We've been through some serious weather on our boat in New Zealand, like ex-cyclone Lusi and ex-cyclone June, but this had the potential to be much worse.
Thanks goodness for books. I read and snacked all day and waited. Then I read and snacked some more in the evening and waited. I would turn on my cell phone every couple of hours to get the latest track from the National Hurricane Center and the wind forecast and wait some more.
While I was waiting, one of the things I fretted about was that the boats parked directly behind my boat would come tumbling down and smash into Tickety Boo.
Turns out I waited for nothing. We ended up being incredibly fortunate in our neck of the woods. Hurricane Matthew tracked eastwards over the water and didn't make landfall near Stuart/West Palm as we had feared. We had some gusty winds, but nothing too serious. Sadly, that wasn't the case for so many people elsewhere.
Everyone got up the next morning, had a walk about to check things out and breathed a huge sigh of relief. I spent the day chilling out and counting my blessings.
What do you do to distract yourself when you're nervously waiting for something to happen? Have you ever experienced a hurricane or other scary weather event?
Thanks for stopping by our blog - we love it when people come visit! We're also on Facebook - pop by and say hi!