No Escaping Irma
Five days before she hit American soil, I blew down to Miami to prepare my boat for the onslaught of Hurricane Irma. Well, actually I flew up and down on jet blue skies seated on American Airlines to secure and prep my 40-foot cat for a catastrophic category 5–6 hurricane. How does one ready a boat for the huge tidal surges, destructive gusts and torrential rain? It's an effort much more moving than relocating a vessel to a safer, more protective location. Prepping for a hurricane is something akin to readying for a battle. Since there are few safe places when Force 12 winds blow through town, finding an ideal safe spot is in itself no easy endeavor. Then there are the sails, lines and sheets, anchors and the tenders.
With Mystique's jib rolled up and ready to store in a bow locker, one of my spare anchors is ready to move astern to set for any southwesterly winds.
Even in its aftermath there is no escaping Irma. Its emotional, and for many, physical and financial impacts will undoubtedly linger with those caught in its path for the rest of their lives. As I left my 40’ catamaran behind to fend for itself, I realized that I could do no more to ready Mystique for the wind and water onslaught.
As one of the millions of Floridian evacuees of the Hurricane Irma, I felt the ambivalence of leaving behind my boat and other Floridian stalwarts and diehards while I sought safety and comfort. While I left my boat-home behind at the urging of others, I also left behind friends and my ability to help cleanup. Knowing that the storm’s outcome would test the mettle of many who lost electrical power, comfort and property, I also understood the reality of the storm would challenge me in an entirely different way. I had to return soon and survey my boat’s condition. This would test me as well.
On one level my personal duality felt like relief as I had "dodged this wind storm / storm surge bullet" while on another level I felt a bit of remorse, maybe akin to a form of survivor's' guilt. Though no one can both stay and leave at once, doing either one has its own separate toll.