Tropical Storm Plan

Based on the latest forecast from the National Hurricane Center, the wind speeds for this potential tropical storm will be around 50 knots. We just don’t know where those winds will be located and from what direction they will blow.

Here is the predicted location of the center of the low for 8pm tomorrow, Friday night, the 26th of August, 2016.

48 hr wind and wave forecast for 8pm 26-aug-16

That is approxiamately 300 nautical miles away from Key West, and although there is a note that says possible gale, the wind speed arrow in front of the system is forecasted at a mere 15 knots and below the system is a measley 5 knots.  We hope that will be true, because it looks like it’s headed directly for us.

Here is the predicted location of the center of the low at 8pm Saturday night, 27th of August, 2016. That’s about 100nm away from Key West.

72 hr wind and wave forecast for 8pm 27-Aug-16

Again, forecaster Mundell is predicting the gale-force winds will remain to the northeast of the center of the low.

I think that second “X” to the left of the big “L” is a second low pressure system, due to predicted disorganization.

Right now the plan is that we are moving the boat Saturday morning out of the mooring field to our boat slip at Safe Harbour Marina and working out how best to tie a bunch of lines in all directions so it stays put.

Approaching Storm Threat

The forecast is now 80% of tropical storm formation by the time this disturbance reaches Florida this weekend, with a possibility that it will reach Hurricane strength as it passes through the warm waters of the Bahamas.

Invest 99-L 23-Aug

So that means we have to monitor this system’s strength and direction closely.

We need to make a decision soon to either sail out of it’s path or to try and get into our new marina slip before it gets here.

Sub-Tropical Storm Ana

Remember I said it’s a bad year for Florida and the Bahamas? Warmer than normal sea surface temperatures are brewing storms already, and it’s not hurricane season yet.

The National Hurricane Center has upgraded Invest 90L to Sub Tropical Storm Ana as of 11 pm EDT/10 pm CDT yesterday.  Ana is going to be a very slow moving storm over the next few days and will bring upwards of 2 to 4 inches of rainfall, gusty winds of up to 50 mph, rough surf, beach erosion and coastal flooding right through this weekend.

Full data on Sub Tropical Storm Ana can be found at http://crownweather.com/index.php/active-storms/ana/ .

Sub-Tropical Storm Ana

The complete list of names for the 2015 hurricane season are as follows:

Ana
Bill
Claudette
Danny
Erika
Fred
Grace
Henri
Ida
Joaquin
Kate
Larry
Mindy
Nicholas
Odette
Peter
Rose
Sam
Teresa
Victor
Wanda

Are you named this year?

Thankfully, for Lindsay and I, the Western Caribbean is not expecting a major storm season, so our house and business are in a good position this year.

2014 Hurricane Season

All in all, the 2014 season was rather low in activity and strength of hurricanes. I believe this was forecasted early on in the season as it was an El Nino year.  I believe that involves an upper level wind shear strength, or something like that every few years, which counteracts the swirling of the rising hot air from the ever hotter sea surface.

Something interesting about this year’s hurricane season was the tropical depression Hanna. This one came from the Pacific coast, crossed land into the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, and got pushed eastward across the Yucatan Penninsula by a predominant weather system in the Pacific. Now that’s just strange!

2014 Hurricane Chart

Westerlies

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During the night on West Snake Cay, the almost unheard of in Belize had happened – the winds had shifted to out of the west… and we had swung around to sit on top of the sandbar… and I mean sit! We were ever so slightly grounded. Luckily the sand was soft and tide high enough that shortly after we realized that we were sitting on the bottom, the wind shifted slightly and we floating happily, though with just inches to spare.

The cool, overcast day and the prospect of snorkeling in the murky green water, just added to our motivation to leave behind the Belizian boa constrictors (unsighted by us), and keep moving to Punta Gorda.

As the westerlies were quite gentle, we motored away before we could get pushed back onto the sand. The skies continued to cloud and darken and we could see rain behind us and off over the mountains, of what we worked out to be Guatemala (it’s always a bit of a mind bender when you can actually see a foreign country across the water). I was determined to outrun the rain, and Third Aye held up her end, as we sped up and slowed down while cautiously passing over numerous shoals.

Probably the biggest shock was when we spotted a strange line of colour change ahead of us… could it be a huge sandbar not on the charts?? Nope! Just the milky, brown waters of the Rio Grande and the Rio Blanco mixing ever so slowly, while flowing out into the Gulf of Honduras. Minor panic over, we spotted a few dolphins swimming in the blending waters.

From then on in to Punta Gorda we entertained ourselves with trying to identify which of the many bumps and lumps on shore were the different hills on the charts… not so easy… you tell me how to successfully count the seven peaks of the so-called Seven Hills… not as easy as you’d think!

With no beaches along the coast here, the town just seemed to sit right on top of the waves. From a far it looked quite nice… but the closer we got the more dilapidated the building seemed. By the time we anchored between the immigration and Texaco docks just offshore, we were definitely planted back in a border town of Central America.
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Being Sunday, we relaxed and went for a bit of a wander around town, but nothing much more than the internet café (Yay!) and someone to sell us ice were open, so after orienting ourselves around Front, Main, Middle Main and West streets (can you say town planner needed!) we headed back to the boat for the night, ready to check out the tour options and catch up on job hunting the next day.

Lindsay ties the dink
Lindsay smile
The cold front that had brought the westerly winds made for some very pleasant sleeping conditions… we even had to dig out our blanket!!
Sunset over Punta Gorda

What we do all day

Q: So what do you do all day?

A: It’s not just what we do all day, it’s what we do all day and night. I can best explain this in a chronological breakdown for you. For illustrative purposes with entertainment value, I will combine several typical situations that may or may not all occur in one 24 hour period. If all of these things happened in one day, most assuredly, we would either move to a new location or sleep the entire following day. I’ll start in the morning, using the 24 hour clock, or military time.

0200: Wake up for a squall. Winds are blowing from a new direction. Lie there and feel for the tug of the anchor lines and wonder if we are adrift. Worry if the anchors will hold. Get up out of bed and stand up on deck. Watch the lightning in the distance and gage the direction of the center of the storm. Wonder if the wind will blow harder or subside. Decide that there is no way to predict this and go back to bed, but don’t sleep until it starts raining. Get back out of bed and close the hatches. Turn on the fans, start to sweat a little under your back and wait for the storm to pass.

0400: Fall back asleep.

Belizean thunderstorm

0600: Wake up with the sun. Wonder if the batteries are approaching the critical level of 10.5 volts. If they do, they will never last as long again. Get out of bed. Look at the battery meter. Look at the refrigerator temperature. Decide to start the engine to save the batteries. Let the engine heat up the cabin while you go back to bed for a bit. Sweat.

0800: Peel yourself off the sweaty sheets and be disgusted. Get out of bed. Scratch yourself all over. Put the kettle on. Check the battery meter and refrigerator temperature. Turn off the engine. Go topsides for a look around and rub your eyes. Make sure the dinghy is still tied to the boat. Make breakfast of coffee or tea, hot or cold cereal, perhaps yogurt or fruit and if you’re really hungry, both. Put up the bimini and the tarp over the boom for shade. Bring in any laundry that’s still on the lifelines.

Dishes aboard

0830: Wash the dishes and check the to do list. Realize it’s longer than yesterday. Dress for the day. Tilt the solar panel to the East. Check the battery meter. Make a stink in the head.

Repairs onboard

0900: Try to get a free internet signal. Read something. Discuss with your mate what it is that seems most important to get done during daylight. Fix something that’s broken. Write down on the list what you have found to be broken while fixing the thing that was already broken or corroded from salt. Sweat some more. Write a blog.

1100: Apply liberal amounts of sunscreen. Gather your things. Put them in a waterproof bag. Stow the rest. Think in exacting detail about what it is that you’ve set out to do ashore. Talk out loud about those things. Realize you’ve forgotten to pack something that you need. Go back down below and get it. Repeat the process from think until you’re irritated about it and decide to just get going. Get going. Pull the dinghy alongside. Tie the dinghy alongside. Shut the hatches and lock up so it gets real hot and stinky inside, if anyone breaks in, they won’t be able to stand it long enough to find anything of value. Get in the dinghy. Untie the second security line from the dinghy. Load the dingy with the items needed ashore. Look for your flops. Get back out of the dingy for your flops and sunglasses. Rotate the solar panel level to the horizon. Get back into the dinghy. Hope the engine starts. Untie and putter to shore.

Tadd driving dink
1130: Approach a dock or the beach. Assess the waves and depth. Abandon the original plan and find a new spot to come ashore. Bounce all around in the surf and get salty. If you swear, now is a good time for it.

1200: Beach it or tie it to a dock. Run a cable through everything that remains in the boat and lock that cable around something that cannot be easily pulled up or cut off. Bounce all around as you hand up all the things you need ashore to your mate. Don’t take your eyes off the item or dare let go until they have firmly taken it from you. Clamber out of the dinghy and quickly get your sandals on your feet or be burned. Sweat some more. Get your backpack or shoulder bag on and get going to the first place that has shade or air conditioning.

vendor
1215: Be hassled by the vendors because you look like a tourist. Keep walking.

1500: Finish the banking, shopping, exploring, or whatever it is that seemed so important earlier. Accept the fact that prices are different for you because you look like a tourist. Notice that you are carrying more weight and there is much less wind onshore. Sweat profusely. Smile, you’re in paradise.

1600: Fill the water jugs before leaving shore. Carry them back to the dingy. Load up and look offshore to be sure your boat is where you left it. Sigh relief and get going. Get salty from the waves splashing up over the front of the dinghy. Again, if you cuss….

1630: Unload, tie up the dinghy with two lines, fill the water tanks, rotate the solar panel to the West. Check the battery meter and refrigerator temperature. Open the hatches. Hand things down below to your mate. Stow everything. Drink something cold. Sit up on deck in the shade on cool off. Swim if you feel like it, you’ll have to shower later anyway.

1700: Wash yourself with a hose in the cockpit. Hang your clothes on the lifelines. Go online and look for free internet. If you get some today, check for tropical depressions, go to Facebook, look for a job online, and read your email.
Tadd looking glum
1800: Play the ipod and have another cold drink. Feel the contentment of living in a beautiful place. Watch the sun go down. Take a picture of it.

1900: Think about starting dinner or watching a DVD on your laptop in the v berth. Pump out the holding tank. Check the battery meter and refrigerator temperature. Decide to run the engines again. Wonder if you have enough diesel fuel in the tank. Check the tank. Top up the tank with 5 gallons and start the engine. Talk very loudly over the engine noise and sound irritated even though you’re not. Cup your ear at your mate. Give up on communicating.

2000: Make dinner. Wash the dishes. Wonder if the water in the tank will last until the last dirty dish. Shut down the engine.2100: Finish the movie or read if you haven’t started watching one. Perhaps you can write a blog now that it’s really cooled down outside.

2200: Go to bed and be happy that today, the wind is blowing right down the wind scoop and onto your face. Read a couple of pages and drift off to sleep.

Repeat.