04 September 2009 | Puerto Escondido, BCS, Mexico
Eric/Not so hurricaney
By dawn this morning hurricane Jimena had passed us for good and the winds had died down here. People in Puerto Escondido had rested a bit and could begin to enjoy the relief that it was over after more than thirty hours of very high winds and very heavy rain, followed by hours and hours of gusty wind and thick, dark, cloudy skies. The sun came out this morning and the air has been cool and refreshing; people seem tired but cheerful.
What we have learned about the hurricane's effect elsewhere is sobering, however. After its landfall in Magdalena Bay on the west side of the Baja peninsula, the hurricane passed to our north, hitting Ciudad Constitucion, Mulege and Santa Rosalia before crossing to the middle of the Sea of Cortez, where it sat stationary for some hours, wreaking havoc on Guaymas. The small port village of San Carlos in Magdalena Bay is reported to have suffered 50 casualties. In Ciudad Constitucion a prison collapsed in the wind, killing at least 70 prisoners; 90% of the structures there suffered severe damage. Loreto just to our north is without power or water, though two gas stations have generators and are keeping traffic flowing. The main roads are open but they lead to towns that have been taken over by the army due to widespread destruction. Mulege was badly flooded and one report is that their main bridge was washed away--a bridge that was 25 feet above the arroyo floor. Every roof was damaged in that town, and the floodwaters were more than two feet deep in the fire station, which is on high ground. Geary, the weatherman on the Sonrisa Net, reports that the palapas on the beaches around Bahia Concepcion have all been damaged or destroyed by 100-knot gusts. In Santa Rosalia a policeman was killed trying to save a man whose car was swept into the sea by floodwaters (the driver was saved), and the old marina was very badly damaged (the new Singlar marina fared fine, however). The harbor is apparently littered with cars and refrigerators carried there by the flood. In San Carlos/Guaymas on the mainland, at least fourteen boats were swept ashore or sunk, and boats in dry storage were blown off their stands. They too are without telephone service or electrical power.
Although the storm was long and terrifying, here in Puerto Escondido we have suffered less. At the height of the storm we experienced a maximum gust of 93 knots, or 107 miles per hour. Seven boats were blown free of their moorings; three remain hard aground within feet of each other in the mangroves in the northwest cove of the bay. These include "Spirit", a neglected 50-foot ferrocement ketch; "Waverly", a 41-foot Bob Perry ketch; and "Wanderlust", an apparently abandoned Albin Vega 27. A boat called "Nika" parted its mooring and ran gently aground in the southeast corner of the bay early Thursday morning; it was towed to another mooring by the marina staff. Two other boats cut loose in the Waiting Room just outside Puerto Escondido: "Tortuga", a large powerboat, and "Popeye," a Nelson Out Island 28(?). Both of those boats have been secured. And finally, as I reported yesterday, Jaime aboard "Saltshaker," a Cascade 42, had his mooring pendant part during the storm and bravely reanchored in Cocktail Cove during white-out squalls. His was the only attended boat to break free. Out of around fifty boats on Singlar moorings, only three failed during the storm: Jaime's was one.
Four power poles were blown down on the road out here from Highway 1, and a number of newly-planted palm trees were blown to crazy angles. There is no electricity, water or telephone service here. Cruisers have lent generators to the Puerto Bello restaurant and store to keep their freezers going and the beer cold. People keep arriving, looking a little tired and vulnerable, and swapping congratulations on making it through. Tomorrow night there will be a Hurricane Barbecue to celebrate.
Sarka and I came back to our own boat after two nights hiding in the massively-built Singlar building to find "Mariposa" very clean on the outside but otherwise entirely unscathed. Our chafing gear was tired but the lines are in good shape despite the hours of yanking in the wind. Our Perry-designed Baba 30 sails at anchor, and we watched her dance back and forth for hours during the storm, often heeling precipitously when she was hit broadside by fierce gusts. So when we returned to the boat during the waning storm we were quite surprised to find nothing out of place down below, and she was entirely dry down below. The clock was ticking steadily and the books were in their cubbies. It felt very good to be home.