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Date: 16 October 2018. Hurricane Michael (with Carrabelle pictures)

janice142

ALERT: It's 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 of fireworks.


 

 


Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale
 

 

Category, Wind Speed

 

Damage Expected

   

Cat. 1, 74-95 mph
119-153 km/h

Very dangerous winds will produce some damage.
   

Cat. 2, 96-110 mph
1554-177 km/h

Extremely dangerous winds will cause extensive damage.
   

Cat. 3, 111-129 mph
178-208 km/h

Devastating damage will occur.
   

Cat. 4, 130-156 mph
209-251 km/h

Catastrophic damage will occur.
   

Cat. 5, 157 mph or higher
252 km/h or higher

Catastrophic damage will occur.
 

 


St. Petersburg is on the peninsula just west of Tampa, Florida.


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 above:
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.
 

The Pilothouse Leak Solution:

GE SilPruf SCS2002
Silicone Sealant - 10 Oz, White

affiliate link


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.

SilPruf 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.


Basically
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.
 

Knowing the 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 east dock.

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 Travis.


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 have.
 

 

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 energy.
 


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 experience.

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 cruising.
 

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 handsome boy.

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 imagine.
 

Before, looking south:

Note the Purple Martin house. I told you about
 that in the
Songbird in Water vignette.
After Hurricane Michael:

 

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 not work.

 

 

Post 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, west end.
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 p.m.


The Moorings in Carrabelle.

 

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 series.

 

 



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.
 

Determining how 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 janice142@gmail.com Thanks!


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 houses.

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.
 

When actively underway in unfamiliar waters I study my charts. I keep safe harbors marked so I am ready should a need develop. I also have short-term anchorages marked in case I want to rest for a few hours or overnight.

I reference Anchorages Along the ICW by Skipper Bob for that information. I also ask advice from locals, fellow cruisers and check with friends. Online sources such as Trawler Forum can be helpful too.

affiliate link→


Anchorages Along the ICW by Skipper Bob


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 stormy weather.

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:

  • #1) The best choice is to put her on a trailer and take her inland, far from the coast.

  • #2) Second best is to put her on the hard in a boatyard, storing deck gear and canvas inside the vessel.

  • #3) 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 ornament.
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 better day.

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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2018

Categories: Anchorages, Boats, Books, Characters, Gear, Locations, Pets, Recommendations, Relationships, Security, Wild Things,

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