(The state of the tropics RIGHT now!)
I remember living in Montana before we bought the boat, hearing about the hurricanes striking Florida or somewhere else far removed from the Prairies. The stories were interesting but I never really followed the season. Then we bought a boat and kept it in the Bahamas for a few years… suddenly the hurricane season was filled with one scary storm after another. I would watch them come across the Atlantic from my seat at my computer desk and every one of them was a potential to destroy our boat and our dreams of sailing away on it one day.
In 2005 I had just returned from a visit to check on the boat. I had removed most of the stuff from the deck, tied down the sails, checked all the doubled up dock lines and flown home. It wasn’t even a month later that hurricane Francis took aim at Grand Bahama Island where our boat was staying at the marina. I spent 24 hours almost continuously watching the storm on my computer while it sat over the island where Wandering Dolphin was tied and blew at 125mph. My gut hurt the whole time. There was nothing I could do.
After the storm there was no way to get to the island, which had been devastated. I was just starting to think we might get a flight down or possibly a phone call through when another hurricane, Jeanne, took aim again. She missed the island and we sighed a sigh of relief. Then a couple of days later from North of the island, Jeanne turned around 180 degrees and came back to Grand Bahama. She was a smaller more compact storm with even higher winds and she hit the island directly. I was certain that whatever had possibly been left of our boat was now gone for good.
It took almost a month after hurricane Jeanne for us to patch through a phone call to the marina. The dock hand, who I knew well, told me that Wandering Dolphin was fine with only a few scratches in the paint! I was amazed. When we flew down to look at her though, the scratch was huge dents in the bow. The bow cleat had broken during Jeanne and she had spent 6 hours banging against the concrete dock. The aluminum of our boat faired better than the concrete though. There was a HUGE bite out of the dock but the boat was just dented. The sails were shredded, the list was enormous and when all was said and done she was totalled by the insurance company. We bought her back from salvage and refitted her better than new, but now we have a serious respect and fear of the big storms.
Here we sit… in the zone… looks like the Hobos in Salinas will be our refuge once again.