Since we are currently in Miami, Tropical Storm Erika has certainly been on our minds as it has slowly marched across the Carribean toward Florida. There is always a certain energy that precedes a big storm, and it is hard to explain. Growing up in Florida means that I have seen quite a few storms and a few hurricanes too. Our house was flooded and destroyed by hurricane Wilma about 10 years ago, and there is nothing quite like a big named storm to get a community buzzing.
There seems to be two sets of people in regards to hurricane preparations. There are those that rush to the store at the mere mention of a storm, even if it is two thousand miles away. This group is called the Hoarder group, and they are excited that a storm is coming because it will bring devastation to everyone except them, because they have bought all the supplies possible. They buy up all the water and batteries, and are solely responsible for a third of the summertime Gross Domestic Product here in Florida. Luckily, for the other group, the What-Evers, Home Depot and the groceries have plenty of time to restock after the Hoarders initial assault, so important last minute items like beer, and Fireball are already back on the shelves. This group hits the stores last, and will take whatever they can find, figuring it probably doesn't matter anyway because if the storm doesn't kill them, the Hurricane Party just might. This group is excited that a storm is coming for two reasons. The first is that it is an excellent reason to have a party. As weird as this seems, it is absolutely true, there are plenty-o-parties in the face of total destruction here in Florida. The other reason they are excited is that for some weird reason, these storm always, always, ALWAYS attack in the middle of the night, with 2AM being prime time for storm strikes. This leads to two phenomenon. The party has hit it's stride by then, and there is nothing left to do but pass out and check out the carnage in the morning, where the second phenomenon, a instant day off of work materializes. A win-win you might say, except that your house and car might be totaled. And the Tylenol might have gotten wet somehow. Woo-Hoo!!!
While the Hoarders and the Whatevers get ready, we have our own preparations to do. Being on a boat in the middle of a storm is about the same as digging for gold in a minefield. It might not work out so well. But you could get lucky! There are a lot of things to do though, and some are not optional. There is a lot of information available on the net about this, so I won't bore you with it all here, but I will tell you what we are doing. Feel free to add comments on this, as we are by no means expert boat preppers.
The first thing, is the take off phase. It is important to take off anything that might take-off in the wind. This includes the dodger, side curtains, and any laundry hanging on the lines. This can also include removing the sails and sail bags if the storm is going to hit you directly. We probably will skip this step, as the storm is projected to move well West of here now, and the intensity is lower than previously thought. We also plan to remove our window covers on the outside of the boat, and any cushions that might go away. We are going to check and clean all the hatch drains, and make sure the hatches are locked down tight. We are also going to turn the boat around, placing the nose into the prevailing East wind. Then the usual stuff like doubling the dock lines, filling the water tank, getting a couple bags of ice, running the generator and then... a trip to the store for beer and Fireball. Wait a minute... oh well, I guess we should check the Disco ball and lights too. What the hell. Maybe we are off Monday...