Hurricane Season Strategy
11 January 2009 | Decision Time: To go South or North
Hurricanes are serious business down here in what is known as The Hurricane Box. Our insurance policy clearly states that we have no coverage if we choose to remain in The Box during hurricane season; however, we don't need the legal terms of our insurance policy to persuade us to have THIRD DAY safely out of reach of any hurricane, we have common sense for that!
There are basically three ways to deal with hurricane season in the cruising grounds of Mexico. Option one would have us sail south to approximately Coast Rica before hurricane season begins. Option two would be to bash THIRD DAY back north to Port San Luis. Option three would be to head north into the Sea of Cortez. Knowing that it will be 115 degrees in the northern Sea of Cortez during the summer, option three was tossed almost immediately!
When we left Port San Luis (PSL) back on Sept 28th, 2008, our plan was to go with option one and have THIRD DAY south of the hurricane zone and until a few days ago, we were still sticking to that plan. While we were out at Isla Isabela, I was the first to broach the concept to Lori about the possibility of taking THIRD DAY north for hurricane season and from there the wheels started turning. Our mooring in Port San Luis is sitting empty and paid for, so the cost is certainly right. PSL is simply a fabulous place to live aboard during the summer, which we did last year. We would be able to see family and friends while living aboard, another plus. And finally we could even work a bit to fatten up the cruising kitty.
From where we sit, both options have negatives and positives, much like all decisions in life. Going south would have us moving faster than our comfort zone and we would feel as if we were rushing through some prime cruising ground, especially when you consider we are now on week three of our stay here in San Blas and are just now even talking about continuing south! Going north would first require some mental adjustment after saying goodbye to the States with the expectations of not returning for a few years. Above all, we would have to sail THIRD DAY north against the prevailing wind and current for about 1500nm. We did what is known as the Baja Bash last March, so we know what we are getting into, burning lots of diesel fuel, and remember, gentlemen never sail to weather!
The options were discussed at length and we have decided to head north to Port San Luis to wait out the 2009 hurricane season and then head south again on Nov 1st of 2009. We will continue to live aboard THIRD DAY and stay in our cruising mode, by that we mean trying to spend as little money as possible while continuing to explore the world around us. In the end, we made this decision because it just feels right for us. Each year, many cruising vessels leave San Diego when we did and make it safely south before hurricane season, so it can be easily done, but it just wasn't right for our cruising style. That's the rub with making cruising plans BEFORE you actually start cruising, because you really have no idea about what will really work for the crew and what turns out to be your optimum cruising style. Oh sure, you can read every cruising web blog, cruising bulletin board, cruising magazine, and every book you can find on the subject, but they are all written from someone else's perspective and cruising above all else, is making your own decisions and plotting your own course. Figuring this out, in my opinion is key to not only enjoying yourself while out cruising, but in really getting into the cruising mindset. It's also not something that an aspiring cruiser can put on his pre-cruise to-do-list and then check off like installing a bilge high water alarm, or water maker. Until you have been out sailing (ok motor sailing) on your own for some period of time, it's all just an intellectual exercise waiting to be picked apart by the tides of cruising reality.
To non-cruisers such a seemingly dramatic change in plans can easily be viewed as some type of failure, which is why many cruisers shy away from talking about their plans past which taco shop they will patronize for lunch. Longtime cruisers have seen it all before: New cruisers cut the dock lines with a goal of reaching the Galapagos. They end up enjoying their time in Central America but never actually make it as far as the Galapagos and then upon their return form cruising, spend more time explaining why they didn't reach their stated goal of the Galapagos than talking about all the great people and places they met on their trip through Mexico and Central America. Lori and I do have some hesitation in changing our plans so publicly, but hope that our style of blog postings, of giving more than just where we are and what we are seeing, helps to give some insight into what it is really like to be cruising. It would actually be much easier to simply post some fabulous photos of where we are accompanied by some words typically seen on a postcard that people send back to the office to show their co-workers the great time they are having on vacation.
We try to give a feel of what it is really like out here cruising and that includes some bloopers, change of plans, and a clear admission that we are learning something new each day about cruising. If we already knew everything about cruising, then why would we even need to leave the dock? Some good advice would be to beware people who seem to have an answer for every question or a fix for every problem, because out here we laugh at them and give them the nickname of, The Obama of Cruising! There I did it, I mixed cruising and politics, may lightning strike me down, because form the sound of it, Obama has plans to manage the weather along with the rest of the US Economy. What a great time to be cruising, even if it does include a stop back in Port San Luis!