Leaving Antigua, W. I.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

It’s Hurricane Season – Smell the Roses

 This is the time of year when the first thing I do every morning is check the weather to see if a storm is brewing.  Usually, there’s a disturbance out to the east of us.  Sometimes, there’s just a tropical wave off the coast of Africa, thousands of miles away.  But often, especially this late in the season, there’s a closed low pressure system several hundred miles to the southeast.  Those I watch carefully.  I study the various forecast models from different sources, trying to guess the track of the potential storm.  I do the speed and distance calculations to see how long we have before we have to take precautions, and check our stock of groceries, diesel fuel, and fresh water.

During hurricane season, we’re normally at anchor off the west coast of Grenada, a few hours from our chosen “hurricane hole,” where we’ve ridden out one hurricane and several lesser storms over the last few years.  We have a healthy sense of anxiety; it’s not quite fear, because we’ve survived before and we know what to do.  It’s more annoyance at the disruption to our routine.  It takes a few hours to reach our hiding place, but then it takes a day to strip the boat and get the storm anchors in place.  Once we’re there, it’s much more difficult to get ashore and get groceries, so we have to prepare to be self-sufficient for an unknown period.  We also know that we won’t have reliable Internet service there, so we have to make sure all of our bills are paid, emails are answered, and relatives are informed that we’ll be out of touch for a while.  Of course, they watch the minute-by-minute hype on the weather channel, envisioning us in an epic battle with the elements.  We, on the other hand, are in a placid spot that looks more like a mountain lake than a Caribbean lagoon.  It’s pretty, but we miss the open water and the cool sea breezes.

This hurricane season, the first thing I do every morning is stagger to the kitchen. Kitchen?   We’re visiting Leslie’s folks in California for this hurricane season.  They have a kitchen the size of our boat.  I make myself a cup of coffee before I settle down in front of my computer for a few hours.  Some mornings, I take my coffee out into the garden and admire the flowers for a bit before I check email, book sales, Facebook, Twitter, and read the latest news.  A few days ago, Leslie’s mother mentioned a storm in the Atlantic, and I realized that I haven’t looked at the weather for weeks.  In the California desert, the weather doesn’t vary much this time of year.  It’s cool at night and hot in the daytime.  It doesn’t rain, and there’s not much breeze.  The folks here complain about the weather, but it really doesn’t have much effect on their lives.  By the time we return to the islands in November, hurricane season will be over; right now, I’m enjoying the flowers.