Date: 16 October 2018. Hurricane
Michael (with Carrabelle pictures)
a long article. Pull up a deck chair and have fun.
Hurricane Michael had nearly zero
effect on me here in St. Petersburg. Today I'll show you what I do to
prepare for a storm that is not going to be a direct hit. Skipper
and I dodged a bullet for certain. Michael, when the hurricane
started was "just" a loose system of weather down in the Caribbean.
By the time the storm reached the panhandle of Florida it was a
tightly-wound Category 4 hurricane wrecking devastation in its path.
This is my First Mate aka Skipper:
Skipper does not change behavior when storms are
pending. The only things
that bother her are an empty water dish and fireworks. She is afraid
Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind
winds will produce some damage.
dangerous winds will cause extensive damage.
damage will occur.
damage will occur.
Cat. 5, 157
mph or higher
252 km/h or higher
damage will occur.
St. Petersburg is on the peninsula just west of
The above radar screen capture
is from the day before Hurricane Michael came ashore. The storm made
landfall on Wednesday 10 October 2018. Only the fringes were
anyplace near me.
On Monday and Tuesday I did a
couple of things that would make storm preparations easier should
the hurricane take a turn towards my location. I brought in my plants
from the cockpit. They hang from the lines that secure my spare life
jackets out back.
Scout is another of my Night Herons. His beak is open
because he is cooling himself.
Regarding Scout, pictured
He is an immature night heron. Scout has a
light brown mottling on his feathers. There are two Scout
birds around at this time. The birds will eventually grow
their adult plumage. As for size, both appear to be the nearly
the same as the adults.
Side Note: I have noticed the night
herons, snowy egrets and ravens all hold their beaks open
when it is very hot out. That helps them to keep cool.
A female night heron ↓
looks similar, with a darker brown
mottled feathers versus the lighter
color of the young birds.
This female night heron is cautious. She
does not eat hotdogs with the other birds.
With Hurricane Michael's rains
impending, I placed containers under my drips. In an ideal world
Seaweed would have no leaks. This however is real life. There are a
few screw holes that are causing me problems. Eventually I will have
them all repaired.
I have a drip under my air conditioner. This one has
been "fixed" multiple times. There are a lot of holes up there and
tracing the source of water is frustrating at best. With the
rainy weather incoming
I moved one of my flower pots inside and hung it under a drip.
I have eyebolts screwed into the overhead so I can
easily snap on a flower pot. Fixing that leak is on The List.
One of my portlights also developed a drip. That leak is new and I have yet to
order more Sil-pruf to fix it.
Sil-pruf caulk by GE is totally wonderful. All my drips in the
pilothouse are gone now thanks to it.
Side Note: The
pilothouse also has a ton of screw holes holding down hardware
outside. I have solar panels, a GPS puck, a steaming light, anchor
light, navigation lights, horns and more up there. When you run a
boat it vibrates. Those vibrations can eventually loosen screws and
tight fittings. Then it rains and a new challenge develops.
Silicone Sealant - 10 Oz, White
Side Note: I bought
SilPruf on the recommendation of my friend Rich on
S/V Bemused. The pilothouse overhead had drips when it rained
hard. Rich stated this product has worked for 15-plus years
aboard his boat. I am testing it now, and the results at
present are a-okay.
sealant is Expensive.
Sil-pruf works well. The leak under my portlight is brand new. I have not
yet bought another tube to solve the portlight drip. This product is
not low cost so it is currently on my
Amazon Wish List until I can afford to buy some for myself. I
check the list frequently, hoping for reduced prices.
Prior to Hurricane Michael's brush by St. Petersburg, a couple of us went over to
give the neighbor some Free Advice on securing his newly bought Sundancer. Whenever tides are going to be extreme, the way to ensure
your boat stays safe is to use long spring lines.
This SeaRay Sundancer
↓ is currently my next-dock
neighbor. She belongs to Dave.
Chapman's Piloting & Seamanship
describes how to rig the lines when tides are large.
Chapman's says to use long
spring lines. Tie one line from the aft corner cleat on the boat to
the dock almost all the way forward. Then tie a second line from a
cleat near your bow all the way aft to the dock. The criss-crossed
spring lines will allow the boat to rise and fall with the tides.
Both sides of the boat should have
long spring lines in place.
direction of impending winds is helpful too. Because winds due here
were to be from the east. I chose to employ a "runner" line to the
dock east of me. I did not believe this storm would be more than the
usual afternoon thunder-boomers we get in Florida. Thus I did not go
"all out" with spider-tying Seaweed.
The neighbors to the east of me
(Dave and Kathleen) were kind enough to again allow me to run a line to their dock.
Unlike Hurricane Irma, I used just one line. Read about that
whine/rant if like here:
Hurricane Irma Saga (parts 1-4).
My goal was to hold Seaweed off the
boat I'm rafted to.
I ran ONE FEEDER LINE
↓ through a loop on the
Yes that polka-dotted sheet is from my bunk. I dumped
the dang tray that caught the drips under my portlight when I was removing it.
Some days are like that. I managed to get the the cover, sheet and
blanket wet in one clumsy move. Argh.
You may wonder about my FEEDER LINE
↑ shown above. The theory was that
if the storm turned I already had a line over to that dock. I could
run additional lines over there using the initial one as a lead.
I am Really Bad at
throwing lines any distance. Fortunately a young man named Travis
was easily able to toss the line onto my bow for me. Thank you
With the storm not a serious threat to St. Petersburg I opted for an
Easy solution. Were the storm to turn I could and would have added
lots more lines. I have heard it said more than once that we get zero use out of a line safely stowed in a
locker. When a hurricane is pending, I lay out every single line I
←Katja is a Valiant32.
This photo of Irene's
sailboat Katja was taken in the Bahamas. She was preparing for a
hurricane. Like many smart sailors, she kept her bimini up until
just before she left the boat. That cover helped keep things
cooler during the day.
The sails came down and
every piece of deck gear was eventually stowed below.
Storm prep takes A LOT of time and
High tide here for Hurricane Michael was forecast at 0200. I saw the
highest water at 1:30 a.m. Winds from the east drive water into this
canal, thus the unusually high tide.
We were lucky here in St. Pete.
Unfortunately my friend Kim in Carrabelle had a different
This is Cap'n Kim. ↑ She's a
gem. Her husband helps Loopers
cross the Gulf of Mexico.
Side Note about
Harold, Kim's husband: He's a captain, as is
Kim. He is also a Marriage Saver! Folks that are doing the Loop
often feel trepidation when it comes to crossing the Gulf of Mexico.
Now some boaters take the coast hugging route I chose. Those that
want a quick crossing have options. Harold is one of them.
Taking the stress
out of a Gulf of Mexico crossing by hiring an experienced
professional captain is one way to keep both cruising partners
happy. I recommend it!
Captain Harold drives boats across the gulf regularly, especially
Looper boats. For people who are uncomfortable so far from shore, he
can provide a safe quick trip for the boat. Sometimes the owners go
for the boat ride. Often though one or both boat owners chose to
rent a car and take a mini-vacation, meeting their vessel in Tarpon
Springs or Clearwater. From there folks can again join the river system
aka Gulf Intracoastal Waterway for safe pleasure
This is Captain Harold, who works
large boats and small ones too.
Harold's phone number is 850-727-9437. You cannot contact him this
week. He and his wife Kim live in
Carrabelle. They are without electricity and cell-phone service is
spotty at this point due to Hurricane Michael.
I texted Kim just before the storm
hit. She had gone home for lunch and all was well.
Kim's dog Vox was busy helping her.
Vox is a charmer. He's also a
After Hurricane Michael I heard nothing from Kim and Harold.
I sent text messages, and worried.
I had spoken with my friend Tom of S/V Gone Tropic over in Apalachicola.
His house was okay though he had several cedar trees uprooted. There
was no power. He had not been down to the river to check on his
boats the last time we spoke.
Today Kim and I exchanged text messages. She had driven an hour into
Tallahassee and found AT&T cell phone service there. She, Harold and
Vox are fine. That is the most important thing. They wanted another tree
and now have a new one. It was the neighbor's tree. Unfortunately it
is on their garage.
C-Quarters and other marinas in Carrabelle are in Clean-Up stage.
Without power cleaning debris is more difficult as you can well
Before, looking south:
Note the Purple Martin house. I told you
that in the
Songbird in Water vignette.
No two boaters secure their
vessels identically for a storm. Each boat has its own
characteristics and needs. Though often folks tie lines very high up
pilings to account for storm surge I do not do that. Instead I place
my lines lower and extend them longer.
The reason is that the angle of
pull from a line fixed high on a piling can cause the piling to
tilt. This is your basic fulcrum situation. Pull from the middle
pivot point or below and your post will provide more resistance. It
won't tip so easily.
Listen to those locals who offer advice
when a storm is approaching.
Boaters who have experienced hurricanes generally have seen what does
storm clean-up is always intense and H-O-T. Without power for
fans and refrigerators filled with cool beverages the heat can
easily become oppressive.
← C-Quarters Marina,
Photo taken at 6:47 p.m. on 10 October, after Hurricane
Michael passed thru Carrabelle.
This photo ↓ was
taken the day after Hurricane Michael made landfall at 1:21
The Moorings ↑
I was in Pensacola for
Hurricane Ivan. Being without power for just three weeks was
awful. Because we had no electricity drying out the rugs was
impossible. The carpets mildewed and had to be thrown away.
That particular storm
changed my life. I became more focused on providing for
myself. Thus the abundance (now!) of solar panels installed
aboard Seaweed. Details on how to obtain your own off-grid
life can be found in the
Powering the Refrigerator
When practical, I prefer to tie my dock line no
higher up than the half-way point of the piling.
Dock lines need to stay cool when stressed. Intuitively I believe a
line stretched due to a storm pressures when submerged should stay
cooler. Like I said before, each boat owner makes their own choices.
best to tie a boat depends upon several factors. Those
considerations include other
vessels and how well they are secured, the placement of pilings and
cleats, plus whatever is upwind. We each work with what we have.
Eye Candy: This is Peaceful Harbour. Photo taken in
Nova Scotia by Cheryl.
I am fond of boat pictures and enjoy sharing same
with my friends. Enjoy.
If you have any cool photos please send them to me at
Please realize I'm older and I have an attitude. Having been off-shore
for one hurricane aboard our 40'er and lived through a few too many
direct hits over the decades while ashore, I'm opinionated. Basically I start
paying serious attention at the Category Three level. Before that
well built houses are for the most part okay. Cat. 4's uproot
trees and damage houses. Cat 5's are the worst. They knock over
Side Note: Seaweed is generally
within a hour's work stowing gear for any storm up through Category
Two. The boat would not need to be moved. I am currently in a great spot.
Of course I would utilize all my dock lines and set my anchor upwind
were a direct hit heading my way.
Regardless, if I deem a
hurricane a threat I do a few things. In the past I have taken my
boat up bayous, rivers and inland when a storm is heading my way. My
main concern is with fetch. I am tremendously wary of the wave
action a long stretch of open water can create.
When I was a kid we would do the
same. Our preferred hurricane hangout would be a place with thick mangroves
and winding waterways.
Mangroves are wonderful trees that grow in the water with soft edges. Away from other boats
and well secured between mangroves in a narrow branch of an estuary
is just about perfect in my book.
Mangrove trees provide food for manatees, shelter for
schools of fish and hiding spots for birds too.
A wide open anchorage like this one is not safe for
The winds and waves would be dangerous for a small
boat like my Seaweed.
Things to know when securing
for your boat for a storm:
The best choice is to put her on a trailer and take her inland, far
from the coast.
Second best is to put her on the hard in a boatyard, storing deck
gear and canvas inside the vessel.
Third best is to leave her in a marina, doubling your lines and
removing loose gear and all canvas.
#4) Fourth is to take her out on
the hook/at anchor. Note this is the WORST choice, even if you have
great anchor gear, nothing on deck, etc. You are dependent upon
every other bozo upwind/upstream of you to know what they are doing
and not break loose and hit your boat while the storm rages.
During storms I like to stay busy.
Decorating for Halloween was one thing I accomplished.
At the Shand's Hospital gift shop in Gainseville I bought this bear
It was during a visit there with Kidlet decades ago. The bear
reminded me of Son.
Living through Hurricane Ivan
changed me. I was taking care of Mother. She had Alzheimer's disease
and was a handful. We were without electric power for
three weeks post Ivan. It was Not Fun. And that ladies and gents is
why I now have 445 watts of solar atop Seaweed.
To those suffering now as a result
of Hurricane Michael, I've been there and feel for
you. Be strong. Know that this storm has probably changed you in
ways that will only become apparent much later. Should we meet along
the waterways I'd like to know what differences you made in your
life as a result of living through a catastrophic hurricane.
Remember that tomorrow will be a
My Grand ↑ is playing in the
waves. Life on and near the water is wonderful. Enjoy!
Thank you for reading.
How has Hurricane Michael effected your outlook/plans
for the future?
And, how are you? Seriously, how did you manage? Did you leave or stay?
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