Some evacuated because they were scared; some because they were dutiful; some stayed on board because they were foolish; some because they were too scared to leave their boat; some may have been brave to stay onboard. Whether courageous or cowardly. stubborn or stalwart, boat owners made their choices in the face of impending destruction and devastation.
I knew I had prepared my boat as best I could for the forecasted winds, waves and tide in the hope that I had done enough. While I wanted to stay to face the tempest, I eventually chose preparation as the better part of valor. And in doing so I chose high ground and distance so I wasn't within harm's way.
Last Sunday in the safety and sanctuary of a Quaker meeting on Maryland's Eastern shore where less than a hundred souls gathered for quiet reflection, I too sat with my thoughts. Near the end of the quiet hour, the leading member of the congregation stood up and spoke about bravery. She cited a story she had recently read where the protagonist made some short term brave choices. While reflecting about her reading, she considered that greater bravery is revealed only over time. She intimated that perseverance in the face of long term struggle and hardships is where human character reveals its greatest courage. It was obvious she was encouraging all of us to reach deeper into our hearts to be our greater selves.
My imagination could not help move to how courage is being tested in many areas of the world where daily survival is so tenuous... - places and situations where people have so little to survive. The devastation of many of the Leeward Islands, Puerto Rico, Turks and Caicos, Dominican Republic, Cuba and southeastern United States came to mind. This is where losses are staggering. Where hope and rescue are difficult in the short term.
As I reflect on what Nature brought and wrought to Floridian and Caribbean shores during late summer 2017, I could not escape the powerful message of how fragile human existence is. Leveled and flooded homes, eroded beaches, downed trees, wrecked vessels and destroyed infrastructure. Huge personal losses where 90-95 percent of the islands and keys are now uninhabitable. Where basic needs such as fresh water, food and shelter disappeared literally overnight. These are all tangible, physical evidence, but what about the invisible carnage - the ravaged lives and livelihoods, the sense of security and safety and the hopes and dreams of millions of people?
As post-hurricane cleanups commence, the Caribbean faces another threat. Marie with 150 mph winds, I've been thinking about the people enduring hurricane impact and suffering the remnants of her intrusion into their lives. All the people in south Florida who lost close to everything and have only their life left will struggle to survive.
Here is what I did:
- I moved my catamaran away from other vessels avoiding any marinas or other vessels.
- I moved my boat away from the middle of Marine Stadium anchorage and close to a windward shore. I anticipated Irma's wind direction for the two day hurricane - northeast on Saturday and then shifting eastward on Sunday then southward and used anchors and lines to anchors in those directions.
- So my catamaran Mystique had the cover of the northeast stand of trees in Marine Stadium. The forest would provide some windbreak protection.
- I first set my spare 55 lb plow anchor astern to the south with 150 feet of rode and 20 feet of chain and cleated it to the starboard stern cleat.
- I then set my main bow anchor - 150 feet of chain with a 55 lb Rocna in 8 feet of water. With Mystique's two bows facing northeast - directly into the forecast wind and my strongest anchor against the strongest gusts!
- Then with another 150 feet of line, I tied the port side bow to a nearby mangrove root system.
- I anticipated a surge of 10-15 feet so I left some slack in the anchors so when the water rose, my slack lines would then tighten and secure the vessel. I knew if I left the lines and anchor rodes taught, the rising tide could shorten the scope and might loosen the anchors.
- I removed ALL deck windage: roller jib, mainsail, sail cover, window, rain shields and winch handles.
- I tied and secured ALL halyards and sheets,
- I stowed ALL sails and equipment in the main salon and locked all doors, hatches and lockers.
- I also sent my boat prayers.
- If a catastrophic hurricane is approaching, there is no halfway preparation if you want your boat to survive.