Monday, July 31, 2017

Some Monday mornings...

Some Monday mornings are harder to take than others. This Monday morning dawned gray and wet after a night of little sleep, mostly due to the bursts of hard rain that kept hammering the boat. We had been watching a small area of storms forming out in the Gulf of Mexico during the weekend. All of the weather gurus were nonchalant about the possibility of it turning into anything more than a bunch of rain, so splashing off to work seemed like the thing to do. People were talking about the weather though, and just an hour or so into the morning’s work Deb came by to let me know that the little area of rain had become a tropical storm aimed pretty much our way. We have grandkids around and, maybe, it would be best to get them somewhere safer than on a boat in a tropical storm. On the other hand, it is Florida in the summer time; rain and a little wind are part of the life. Besides, how big can a storm grow in 50 miles and a couple of hours? Deb settled the little ones into the v-berth and cranked some cartoons up on the iPad.

The history of Emily as seen on

During first break, there was a lot of talk about the incoming weather. Some of the guys had already bailed out as nearly all outside work had ground to a halt. My project for the day was in the paint shed, which isn’t really a shed - two stories of fabric stretched over an aluminum lattice that hums in the wind. But it does help keep the rain off of one’s bald head. Still, the sky looked dark with fast moving, low level clouds racing overhead. Word soon spread that our little batch of storms, now tropical storm Emily, was picking up speed and about to crash our Monday morning work party. Not ten minutes after break had ended, the winds picked up, waves started breaking over the sea wall, and the rain could be seen boiling up over the barrier islands. So I took a few minutes off to check on Kintala and her crew of Daughter Eldest and grand kids (3).

I got there just as Deb was about to walk the two boys over to the head. Once the weather arrived it seemed a good bet they would be boat bound for a good part of the day, so a preemptive potty strike seemed like a good idea. The shower house is about 200 feet from Kintala’s dock. About 100’ into the trip the leading edger of Emily arrived. Two little kids in 60 knot winds and driving, sheeting rain. That will be a story they tell for many a year. Deb and I hustled them inside than I went back to the boat to check on the remaining crew of Daughter Eldest and grand daughter youngest.

Even in the lee of the boat house Kintala was heeled over enough to send glasses and dishes cascading off of counters and onto the cabin sole. The rain was horizontal in straight line winds that must have been over 60 knots.  Every phone on the boat started to blare, a tornado warning was issued and we were being advised to “take cover immediately”. Daughter Eldest was a bit beside herself as the last she had seen of her parents and her two boys was all of us being swallowed up in the onslaught and disappearing from sight. I let her know that all were fine but we needed to get them back on the boat, the bath house being the last place one would want to be in a tornado. Two hundred feet can bet a long way in that kind of weather, but the four of us held hands and made it back to the boat without a problem.

Just as we got back aboard, Son-in-Law and new coworker at the boat yard, who had been helping me with the project in the paint shed, showed up. He had been inside when one side of the shed had failed under the pressure, all but the two corner posts buckling in and threatening to bring the whole thing down on the three boats parked inside. As he told the story, Deb and I adjusted the lines to keep Kintala off the pilings in the shifting winds. With our boat as safe as it could be and everyone accounted for, I headed back out to the yard to help do whatever it was that needed done.

There was some scrambling going on. The wind had ripped the headsail open on a boat whose mast had gone up late last week. Its rigging had yet to be tuned, so a team of five was tightening up the rig and wrestling with the wayward sail. The sail could not be saved, but the tight rig held the mast in place. Such was not the case out in storage A. Just a few hundred feet from Kintala a mast sheared off at its base, crashing down across the next two downwind boats. Storage C saw boats lose their canvas, and just on the other side of the fence several large trees are down. A Couple of large dock boxes were, literally, blown apart, the tiny bits scattered to the winds.

Somewhere in the midst of all that, a couple of us  grabbed a length of heavy line to shore up the paint shed the best we could, using a couple of well placed trees. Two of the boats threatened by the shed were on trailers. They got pulled clear, chocked and blocked.

Power went down throughout the boatyard and isn’t back yet. The sky is still heavily overcast but the winds have died away and the water is settled. My guess is that those who live on land will be berating NOAA for being slow, then being alarmist by “naming” the weather on a typical Florida day. Those of us who live on boats, much closer to the weather, will have a slightly different take. Sure, it was a small storm. But it came basically came out of nowhere. At 0700 it was a tropical depression. By 1030 a tropical storm was pounding its way on shore, likely dragging something along that, if it wasn’t a tornado, was certainly close enough for my taste. By noon it was over and people were assessing the damage.

Some Monday mornings are harder to take than others.

1 comment:

Keith Greenwood said...

Glad you all are safe!