Yup, Still Afloat
04 October 2016
Let's see, we decided to stay a bit further north this year, in St Lucia for Hurricane Season, with a thought to run south if a bad storm was threatening.
We've flown back to Canada for a month for a really nice visit.
We've discovered, with Ken's keen observation, and later confirmed with a GoPro camera jury-rig up the furler, that we need to replace our forestay.
We weathered Tropical Storm Matthew on a mooring ball in Le Marin, Martinique. We came out of it just fine, with our prep work being more than enough.
I suppose Matthew is the most exciting part of all of this...
We knew before the storm system even left the African coast that it was one to watch. However, it stayed low, relatively close to the Equator, and headed pretty much due west, and never spun up into a storm until it started edging more north where it could tap into the Earth's spin.
We considered running south, but where? This thing was forecast to stay south, and we could have run into a worse situation. We had hopped up to Martinique to get the parts to replace the forestay, and ended up choosing to stay in a mooring ball at the marina in Le Marin.
The decision to stay on the mooring was based in a number of factors. We knew that the moorings are well maintained. We also know that often damage to boats in storms and squalls are caused by dragging boats on anchors. No matter how solidly you are planted, you are the mercy of the skipper in front of you. The moorings we chose had no anchored boats close enough to us to be a danger with the wind directions we knew to expect.
Wind driven waves can be miserable, and the distance to shore wasn't too far, so the waves would be very manageable.
We could have gone to a dock, but being on the mooring meant that the wind would be on the nose the whole time, making it better for us and the boat.
We used lots of antichafe gear for the lines. Our jib had been already removed in anticipation of the forestay work. We chose to wrap up our mainsail on its boom with line, making it into a sausage. The dinghy was stripped and tied to the side of the boat. We had food. We knew that were ready. With the forecast winds of about 50 knots, we realised that we had seen some winds like that in Toronto in the winter, with our plastic cover. We felt less concerned when we though of those cold windy days.
On the Wednesday, the day began quite overcast. The dinghy was stripped, so I did a water workout before it became too miserable. The rain began in some minor squalls, but by about 2:00 in the afternoon, we knew we were in the middle of it. Facebook posts flew to friends and family to reassure that we were okay. Actually, boredom was the biggest problem! Because of the hills to our east, we were somewhat protected from the storm winds and saw sustained winds of about 35 knots, with gusts around 50. It rained, a lot, as the quite full dinghy attested to the next morning.
By about 9:00 that evening, things were quieting down with just occasional squalls creating strong gusts, and the rain kept falling.
We had never wanted to be on a first name basis with any named storm, and we would have been quite happy to have never been so , however, we really had no idea of where to run to with this one, and we knew we had a safe place to hunker down. We got off lucky.