Tropical Storm / Hurricane Erika, The Irony Is Not Lost On Me.

 

Sunday: Brian and decide to stay at Emerald Bay Marina, Great Exuma. My head seemed to be getting worse and worse. So brian hot footed down to George Town via rental car and bought an A/C window unit. He rigged it over the v-berth so I can get a break from the heat. This has helped my head pain considerably. 

After a few days it is clear that Storm Danny is not a threat but Invest 98 has turned into a very unpredictable T/S Erika :-(. 

Wednesday: roughly three days before TS/Hurricane Erika gets to our Latitude. It has been an up and down roller coaster journey just to get to this point. Well, the roller coaster is the weather folks trying to give me peace and heart attacks all in the same day. Brian is the picture of calm and keeps me from getting too anxious. I’ve ridden out a hurricane aboard a boat and have seen the crazy loads that can be places on a boat and anything on deck. The experience was unintentional as the forecaster called for the storm to pass well south of us. The boats (3) were prepped just incase thankfully . I had my Trawler and sailboat next to my Parents sailboat( parent were out of town). Anyways I’ll never ride out aboard again, thankfully Brian whole heartily agrees with this philosophy.

We are in Great Exuma at Emerald Cay Marina. Chris now ( as of the 6pm update) gives us a 50% chance of getting hit by a cat 1.  Three minutes before we read this, NOAA had calmed my heart with implying Erika will most likely weaken to a tropical Storm. This TS/Hurricane (Erika) as kept everyone guessing and has been a real pain, the similarities to me ( Erika) are not lost on me ( Erika ) 🙂

 

Satalite view of our Marina. We are tucked around the corner a bit. I think we have the best slip for this situation.

 

Entrance. Though this Marina is know for its surge ( wave action, not high water) during the winter months, the storms path will not allow much northerly winds. ( yay!)


Some of the positives about this Marina is the high land that circles the basin.


I’m especially intrigued by the deep canal to our north. Brian and I will go exploring after this storm passes.

 

Today Brian got out every scrap of line and chafe gear. We also moved the boat to the other side of the dock so we would have a barrier to some of the upwind boats and also wanted the bow pointed towards the entrance. The Marina gets a healthy surge ( wave action, not high water) with a north wind so the Marina only allows one boat per two slips, this allows us the tie for surge, placing Rain Dog in the middle of the big slip, to her own finger piers on each side. We will need very long lines, so we might even need to cut our extra anchor rode. Tomorrow I will weed through all this and see if we have enough long lines without having to tap into the anchor rode. I’ve been very impressed by the marinas prep, all trash cans are bolted down and screwed shut. They also zip tied every dock box lid, pruning all the trees,  this isn’t their first rodeo.

 

The entrance. The land surrounding the Marina is nice and high, under a cat 3 surge height level I estimate. But the concrete bulkhead, shape of Marina, and direction of the entrance can cause some wave action in wind direction around 8-25 degrees. 

 

Rain Dog in all her messy cruising glory. Well, more messy than usual. As you can see we have lots to do! ( this pic is before we moved RD to face the entrance)

 

The stages of stripping a boat for storm. Brian removed the jib and staysail, weather spray cloths, cloth gates, anchors(2), and stripped the dinghy of its gear. We will keep the dinghy inflated to the last minute because when we tie up Rain Dog in her storm position we will need the dinghy to get to and from her as she will be in the middle of the slip, ten feet from all finger piers.

 

Brian getting our lines and shore power after moving rain dog to the opposite side of the dock. All day the big yachts have been trickling in. One crew member off a big boat across the way said this was the best Marina Within a couple hundred miles, but did mention the surge( gulp). I hope we have made the right decision to be here. Sigh. Well, all we can do is look at all the options and address our biggest concerns and go from there.

 

If the storm is not over a Cat 1, we are thinking about staying at the Marina club house. It is strong and the harbormaster is ok with it. Brian is also looking into renting one of the nearby condos as they may have generated power during any outage. We are a bit concerned about my health if the power is out very long, my heat intolerance has been acting up and would like to avoid excessive heat exposure. But as anyone who has been through a hurricane knows, it’s usually miserably hot after the storm!

 
 

The club house is very comfy. There is a good room down stairs if we need a refuge from a tornado


Pool table, galley, and restrooms. We should do fine here. Plus we have perfect view of Rain Dog. Brian has already boasted that he could kick my butt at pool, game on!

 

Before we moved rain dog to the other side of the pier. Club house and Marina office steps.

 

I tied a strong webbing messenger line to each anchor and dropped them into the empty slip next to us. Out of the way and safe. 🙂 a 45lb Manson and a FX-37 fortress.

 

Chafe gear stash. I’d be happier if we had some 2″ tubular webbing.


I got out my thick heavy duty chafe leather and cut some strips to add to the eyes of our line.


Thankfully we did not bury my sailrite and I was able to punch holes in the leather for stitching. I had leather needles, but they were size 14. I needed bigger holes to stitch strong twine. I had a #18 needle with a broken tip. Popped it in and sewed( using no thread, just needed the holes) a few inches and it worked beautifully! These will protect the inner eye splices. 


Laying out all of our longest lines, plus we have 300ft. Of 5/8 three strand anchor rode( we have 4 sets of anchor rode). We found my hurricane lines that I kept from my previous boat (Ocean Girl, a Cape Dory 30) had some rot on 1 of the 6 lines. This made all the OG hurricane lines suspect so we diguarded them. We still had plenty of good lines, just taught us a lesson on proper storage of lines!! Plus, even though the OG hurricane lines had never been used( new line), they were over 12 years old. We will buy two new sets (8total) of hurricane lines, 10 feet longer, and after I add chafe gear, we will store them in a designated dry bag with moisture absorbers and check them yearly.

 

Being in an oversized double slip allowed us to have cleats with only one line. I like to have the chafe gear take the first turn on the cleat. We will order 1 1/2 and 2″ tubular webbing to add to this set up for next time. The tubular would be snug to the line and sewn so it won’t move over the line. This allows for the webbing to take the friction before the line. The larger chafe will be allowed to move across the webbing. Thus we will have two smooth chafe gears making the friction.

 Update:

9pm from Chris Parker: seems we will see either lighter winds (highest 60-65 knot squalls) from the north or stronger winds from the south(highest 80 knot squalls)  pending how Erika passes us. It’s a bit muddled cause no models agree with each other and there are so many variables.  

Tomorrow we finish stripping the deck, stowing everything down below, packing a evac bag, plugging all her holes on deck (diesel tank vent, nicro vents, anchor hawsepipe) and cover/plug engine exhaust through hull, remove monitor wind vane rudder, get all halyards  secured and get her dock lines in place with chafe gear. There is more just can’t remember ( brian has the list). 

 

Update:

Almost 3 pm on Thursday. This morning T/S Erika took a decidedly westerly  turn which is good for us.  Chris just Sent an Update and it looks like there is a good possibility that we won’t get any significant wind but we will get a lot of rain. The Marina is filling up, though they are spreading boats out to give everyone a double slip. We made friends with a crew off Beer Break, a big power yacht. He was kind enough to give us a roll of duct tape. We have been sharing information from Chris Parker weather updates and I think his captain is sold on subscribing to him in the future. 

Murphy’s Law. Of course, one of the primary cleats had significant rust on the bolts. The trash can is bolted to the dock. Had the storm been stronger, we would have removed the trash can, sunk it, and ran lines to the good cleat, bypassing the suspect cleat. Instead we just rigged a back up. If the primary cleat gave way, the dyneema lashed to the second cleat, would take over. Not a perfect solution, but by now we knew this storm was not going to be strong.

 

We are well out of the storms direct path, but still felt its presence with gusty winds and very very sloppy seas

 

Thursday: Since it is now clear that we will not get a cat 1 or higher storm, brian and I stopped stripping her decks. This leaves her mainsail and cover up, which brian wrapped with line. I also rigged the a/c unit to stay in place,using one of our beanbag seats 🙂 and layering canvas and tarps to keep any torrential rain out. This adds windage but we are now quite sure the storm has disintegrated. Brian got our big 15hp motor mounted on the stern. We will leave the dinghy in the water so needed the motor off incase of flooding.


Thursday night. As you can see, the storm will hit near full moon. This means added tidal height.


The sky was doing some funky stuff. This is sunset looking east. A squal just blew through while we were tweaking the lines. I was not able to take a pic of the spectacular full rainbow but as soon as I could I captured this remnant

 

Crazy sky. Looking northeasterly at sunset.

 

John, I believe may be second in command at the Marina, has been a wealth of information and advice. The Harbormaster, who has also been a great help, was on vacation but still stayed at the Marina to keep an eye on things I’d suppose.

 

Friday morning. Looking a bit stormy

 

 

Friday morning sunrise 

 

Friday. Entrance, which we were so worried about, will not see much northerly winds due to the storms southerly track of us.


Squally weather, but it only rained for an hour or so.

 

The most winds we saw were in the 30 knot range. Very calm in the Marina where we were, but it was pretty choppy at the entrance.

 

Used the dinghy to get back and forth from the center tied Rain Dog. Storm has passes and all is well 🙂


Rain Dog

 

Saturday: ugh! Now we have to put Rain Dog Back together! At least this facilitates the dodger and rain fly sewing projects I’ve been putting off. And the deck will get a good scrub down before we pile it back up with cruising gear.

 

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