(This post was supposed to come out yesterday – August 1 – at this time. Sorry! You’re going to get an update in just a little bit.)
Yes, it’s the title of a Jimmy Buffet song. But it’s also a good title for this blog post, which will describe what it’s like on Smartini when a Tropical Storm / Hurricane is brewing out in the Atlantic and headed our way. Rather than my normal style of waiting until something is over to write about it, I’m going to do this one each day, to try to convey a sense of the process we go through each time the National Hurricane Center posts an image that looks like this:
This is the image that’s online right now, at 8:00 a.m. Thursday, August 1. Interpretation: the “disturbance” that’s about half-way between here and the West Coast of Africa (“X” marks the spot) has a 70% chance of developing into at least a Tropical Depression in the next 5 days, and it’s HEADING RIGHT FOR US!
Yep, that little black blob is St. Martin, our current home. It used to be thought that the big lagoon within the island was a great hurricane hole – and then, on September 5, 2017, Hurricane Irma said “Nope, I don’t think so!”, and destroyed over 500 boats here, most of them in the lagoon. Today, almost two years later, there are still sunken boats scattered throughout the lagoon, and littering its shores.
Two days ago, when this current tropical disturbance first appeared on the NHC map, the most detailed analysis we found suggested that it would probably turn north well before it reached the Leeward Islands (all the little blobs in the close-up image above), and wouldn’t develop into anything at all until it was at about 25 degrees North latitude (Key West is at 25 degrees). “No big deal”, we thought, and went on about our daily life.
Yesterday morning, the “turning north” and “25 degrees” were both missing from the analysis. The gurus have analyzed upper level wind shear and Saharan dust and sea water temperatures and vorticity and spasmocity and the “most credible models”, and revised the path into IT’S HEADING RIGHT FOR US!
So we spent a good bit of time yesterday assessing our options. Our hurricane plan for last year (in the Bahamas, with about 700 islands mostly pretty close together) was to always be within an easy two day run to a really excellent hurricane hole, and the Bahamas has several. This year, with far fewer islands spread out over a much larger area, the plan is “git while the gittin’ is good”. In other words, head south, and keep going south, until we’re south of the risk. If that means all the way to Grenada, so be it – we’ll always have enough fuel in the tanks to make that run non-stop if necessary.
That won’t likely be necessary this time. None of the models predict this to be more than a Tropical Storm by the time it reaches us, so unless that changes, we don’t be heading for Grenada. Another, less drastic version of that plan is to make an all day run to Antigua, and tuck into Jolly Harbour, a big, protected harbour with several large marinas. But we don’t think even that will be necessary this time. We’re hoping to get away with the least drastic of our options, which is to go into a marina inside the lagoon, put out all of our lines and fenders, and start making cocktails.
It’s 8:30 a.m., and I’m going to start calling marinas. I’ll post something more when there’s something more to tell.