Hurricane Maria Too close for comfort!
18 October 2017 | Le Marin, Martinique in the French West Indies
Ken - Lynn
After a lovely summer staying with Bob Goodings in Toronto and enjoying friends and relatives in Ontario, we flew home to Silverheels III in Martinique on August 18.
We prefer to be with our floating home during the meat of Caribbean hurricane season which traditionally gets gong in earnest in early September.
After a month of boat cleaning and general maintenance we began watching Atlantic weather patterns with a close eye on West Africa and Cape Verdes, the spawning ground of Atlantic hurricanes. As it turned out, our vigilance paid off.
The following is taken directly from our Facebook timelines.
As Lynn and I relax this evening after enjoying another one of Lynn's excellent suppers, our closed up boat is a sweaty 34 degrees inside at 83% relative humidity. Intermittent showers are falling from a small tropical wave passing by.
We've been living aboard S.v. SilverheelsIII for 14 years and tomorrow, Sept 16, Lynn and I will celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary.
Here's a flashback to how we began, living in Toronto harbour, afloat all year round. Nowadays, the ice is in our drinks, not under the boat.
15 September ·
So, now we have an Invest and Tropical Depression 14 to keep an eye on. The TD looks like it will head north of the islands, but that invesf might become something by Monday , when it might be around here (here being somewhere in the islands).
I'm not thinking a holy crap hurricane, but we need to get somewhere with protection from all sides, just in case.
I love hurricane season, said no one ever in the Caribbean.
15 September ·
This is the tropical storm we're expecting late in the afternoon on Monday Sept 18.
We're firmly lashed in between two other large yachts in Marine du Le Marin, Southern Martinique. All sails will be removed this weekend, dodger and bimini with solar panels will be lashed securely.
If this Invest 66 becomes (only) a tropical storm it will be below 74 mph or 64 knots, 119 km per hour.
If it's a Category 1 hurricane it could be 74-95 mph, 64-82 kt and 119-153 km/h
Lynn and I have seen gusts up to 50 knots in this same location during Tropical Storm Matthew last year.
Otherwise we're healthy and busy, I'm getting the propane control system working so we can have hot coffee and food.
16 September · This morning on SSB Radio
Invest 96 has not yet shown it's hand.
If it develops within the next 24 hours before reaching Eastern Caribbean on Monday it may transition quickly from TD to a TS and then into a very strong hurricane. Not what anyone wants to see!
Right now some models have it running between Martinique and Dominica.
Tropical Depression Fifteen formed on Saturday afternoon in the waters east of the Lesser Antilles Islands, and tropical storm watches were hoisted for the islands of St. Lucia, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Barbados, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Dominica. TD 15 has the potential to be a hurricane by the time it passes through the Lesser Antilles Islands on Tuesday morning.
TD 15 had very favorable conditions for development on Saturday afternoon. Wind shear was light, 5 - 10 knots, SSTs were a very warm 29 – 29.5°C (84 - 85°F), and relative humidity at mid-levels of the atmosphere (as analyzed by the 12Z Saturday run of the SHIPS model) was moderately moist--about 60%. Satellite loops showed that TD 15 had a good deal of spin, and heavy thunderstorm activity was steadily increasing and growing more organized, with several curved low-level spiral bands forming. The first hurricane hunter aircraft is scheduled to investigate TD 15 on Sunday afternoon.
Sept 17 Sunday
MARIA, MARIA. THERE ONCE WAS A GIRL NAMED MARIA!!!!!
We're sitting on a dock in Martinique waiting for the near passing of Tropical Storm Maria on Monday evening, around midnight.
We're uncomfortably close to the path, about 98 miles south of it, but in the safe(r) Southern semi-circle???
Maria "may" develop into a full hurricane by the time she passes by us. Tropical Storms are winds to 34-63 knots, while a Catagory 1 hurricane is 64-82 knots, and Cat 2,3 are even higher.
We're reasonably confident that we'll (only) see winds to 50 or 60 kts, and the boat is totally stripped down for those winds. Any more than that? Well....we're fully insured!
The first picture is the storm path with wind hazard envelope on both sides of the track.
The second image gives percentage chances of Tropical Storm windspeeds 34-64 knots. We're in the 70-80% zone.
The chart shows where we are in Martinique near the bottom, with a line from our location up to the closest point of approach of the centreline of the storm track. Storms are like sheep, they sometimes run left or right of the track. We hope that this big sheep called Maria takes the right hand side of the road.
We may well get off this boat which is securely tied up on a dock between two other large sailboats with plenty of fenders between us and six or more lines ashore. If the wave motion is too much we'll get seasick and not sleep on Monday night, so we (might) take shelter ashore. We have packed a get-off-the-boat waterproof bag with drinking water, snacks, warm clothes, waterproof shoes, foul weather jackets and hats, ships documents, passports and cash if we have to leave the boat because the motion at the dock is becoming nasty.
This marina is protected by hills but the anti-clockwise spin of these storms bring high winds from unusual directions; instead of consistent East Tradewinds, winds back into the North, then West, then South, which will bring unusually high waves and swells into the marina.
The boat can take worse conditions than her crew can, so if things get to be impossible, we'll take shelter on shore.
On the boat we have full water tanks, plenty of cooking gas,a full diesel tank, and plenty of solar power and big batteries to run the boat.
Not trying to paint a gloomy picture, but it's always best to be well prepared, rather than trying to play catch up. Hopefully we'll only see 40-50, maybe 60 kts of wind, which we have successfully weathered before in this exact same location in Martinique, just last summer.
Island infrastructures, even French ones, are surprisingly fragile so the land-based telephone, cellular and internet may be affected after Monday night. Therefore we may not be able to communicate very well if the winds on Monday/Tuesday blow the electric supply, phone wires or internet are down temporarily. We do have Ham Radio on the boat, and can use that method to ask Ham Radio friends in other unaffected islands to relay our staus by email if necessary.
Lynn still doggedly runs miles and miles every morning in this Tropical heat, and we're making new friends and meeting old ones nearly every day. We're both healthy and happy these days, but of course......a bit less happy with stormy weather.
☆☆☆☆ Latest news at 5:45 pm today ( Sunday Sept 17) ☆☆☆
Unfortunately, Maria has just been classified as a Cat 1 Hurricane with 75 knot winds.
Love to our friends, whether you're dirt dwellers or yachties!
Lynn and Ken,S.v. Silverheels III
Sept 18, Monday
18 September at 18:23 ·
First, we are safely tucked into a hotel room. Our timing for getting off the boat was good as the wind and waves were becoming more, well, boisterous. It wasnt dangerous, but damned uncomfortable then, and it must be worse now as the wind has increased.
Second, through a Facebook tracking, we are getting interviewed for Anderson Cooper's show on CNN. How's that for surreal? Funny thing is, if we hadn't have been in Canada and seen it, we wouldn't have known who he is! Oh, audio only, since the WiFi isn't great.
Hope the power holds out!
Here is NHC 8:00 p.m. special advisory:
Hurricane Maria Special Advisory Number 11
NWS National Hurricane Center Miami FL AL152017
800 PM AST Mon Sep 18 2017
...MARIA BECOMES A POTENTIALLY CATASTROPHIC CATEGORY 5 HURRICANE...
...THE EYE AND THE INTENSE INNER CORE IS NEARING DOMINICA...
SUMMARY OF 800 PM AST...0000 UTC...INFORMATION
ABOUT 15 MI...25 KM ESE OF DOMINICA
ABOUT 40 MI...70 KM N OF MARTINIQUE
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...160 MPH...260 KM/H
PRESENT MOVEMENT...WNW OR 300 DEGREES AT 9 MPH...15 KM/H
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...925 MB...27.32 INCHES
WATCHES AND WARNINGS
CHANGES WITH THIS ADVISORY:
The government of France has changed the Hurricane Warning to a Tropical Storm Warning for Martique.
Lynn and I are in a nice hotel room in Martinique. Our boat needs to take care of herself tonight.
18 September at 21:57 ·
Downgraded to a Tropical Storm warning now in Martinique. However, Dominica is facing a full cat 5 hurricane right now.
The staff of CNN's Anderson Cooper called us by SKYPE tonight in our hotel room, wanting to know how boaters cope with severe weather. Apparently some breaking news shifted our interview. Maybe tomorrow.
19 September at 07:20 ·
Warm, dry safe night in our hotel room. Lynn, always a trooper, walked down to check on S.v. Silverheels III
All was well, at least from the vantage point of the dock. One bow line snapped, but the secondary lines held well. The French neighbour, who showed up just before the storm hit, actually gave Lynn hell for our leaving our boat before the hurricane hit Martinique; (go figure?) Lynn and I know full well that in a hurricane, staying on a boat and running around on deck retying lines in possiblly 100+ knot winds is a death-defying fool's game.
Anyway she returned to our room with a big thumbs up smile, and a thermos of HOT COFFEE!!!! Kenn, our friend who shared our two bedroom room, is very happy about his boat Fair Wind as well.
Still raining very heavily here with wind, but we' ll soon pack up our three waterproof Get-off-the-boat-in-a-hurricane bags and slog back down the hill to our floating home.
Dominica, just 60 miles to the North, received a direct hit from Catagory 5 Hurricane Maria. We're praying today for our dear friends in Dominica.
The radio interview we recorded with Anderson Cooper on CNN was "trumped" by political news. They may try to interview us again today when we're on the boat.
So....very good news so far, we'll see what the inside of our boat looks like sometime today.
And ya know? That king size hotel bed was pretty darn nice!!! So is this coffee!!!
Ken Goodings is with Lynn Kaak.
19 September at 10:25 ·
Lynn here. We just heard Dominica was devastated. When the weather settles, we will be going up. Ken's ham radio communications ability, and our self sufficient ham rig on the boat, will likely be useful, and I'm guessing some of my first aid knowledge will be used.
Loading up with water and some other stuff in the next day or two.
I am so worried about our friends there.
Post Hurricane Maria
Lynn managed to contact her high school classmate in Dominica who had lost her apartment due to the hurricane. Lynn got a ferry ticket on-line and our friend is now safe in Guadeloupe with family after having left everything behind at home in storm ravaged Dominica.
Dominica was flattened by catagory 5 hurricane Maria's direct hit.
Caribbean, French, Dutch, British, Swedish, Canadian, Bajan and Trinidadian forces are on scene now to restore electricity, water and order. many ships and smaller vessels are ferrying bottle water, food staples and other goods to Dominica every day.
Lynn and I are now in St Lucia, just 80 miles to the South of Dominica, doing boat maintenance, clean up and getting rid of things that we've carried for so many years but rarely need. The donation box on shore is filled with stuff from Silverheels III, and perhaps with a lighter boat, we'll be able to sail faster. Who knows....we explore these islands at 5 miles per hour and really....what's the rush!