|One big nasty mess!|
First off, we are okay. Cinderella is okay. That's the perspective. The details and the scramble in between were incredibly stressful ... and we didn't lose anything! The only real damages were to our wallets and sleep cycles, yet the stress was intense. I Just. Cannot. Imagine. what it must be like for friends who lost homes, boats, and businesses to this hurricane storm, or to hurricane Maria that followed.
The initial storm track and size looked serious enough for us to want Cinderella on the hard. Such peace of mind to have paid to reserve our spot at the beginning of the season. One boatyard here in town when we arrived 4 years ago has a "hurricane club." For $250, you are guaranteed space to haul out if there is a named storm. If there are no storms, you wasted some money. This had been the case for us the last 3 years, but this year, we were getting mega value for that guarantee. Our insurance company was very, very happy.
Except when we called to arrange the haul, the less-than-helpful owner told us that he couldn't haul any boats because his travel lift was broken. What dreadful timing! And of course because we had the guarantee, we hadn't made any backup arrangements and now everyone in town was full. Plan B was a protected marina 2 days travel away, that had one remaining slip. We'd have to get moving.
After a sleepless night filled with visions of charts and tides, the co-owner called and said that the problems with the lift were fixed and we scheduled our haul after all. Giant sigh of relief! Turned out that when they had done previously-scheduled maintenance on the travel lift, the mechanic had put back the controls in a new and unfamiliar pattern. The operator, the grumpy guy I had first talked to, was absolutely unwilling to learn a new system when he had many many boats to move quickly in the days before the storm, and rightly so. He had scheduled his work assuming he would be able to handle the lift nearly on autopilot as he had done with that particular system for many years. But now the mechanic came back and reorganized it the way it had been and the boatyard, and we, were back in business.
|On a beautiful day it was hard to believe that there was a monster storm coming. Here we are getting into the new old travelift.|
|A friend with photoshop stopped by to really help us secure the boat. (Laughter helps stress.)|
|When they ran out of jackstands, they got creative! We were absolutely delighted with this, made us feel very secure.|
After Cindy was secured, we evacuated with a few things to a motel about 5 miles inland. It was at the same location as the county's emergency services operation was set up, so we figured it was a safe spot. After all, if it was good enough for them... There was a mini-fridge and microwave in the room, and we brought our electric induction single burner cooktop and some pans and food, and we were ready for whatever the weather would bring (we thought). We were even happily planning some internet time. Our air conditioning on the boat had no been working so we were looking forward to sleeping cool and dry. I brought a bottle of maple syrup also because there was an ihop restaurant attached to the motel. There were also two raunchy "sex toy shops" directly across the street, but we didn't know that at the time we made the reservations!
Things went comfortably until 5 AM during the height of the storm, when there was a pounding on our motel door. Earlier I had dimly heard thumps and running feet, heard someone yell to shut off the power, "Yes, the entire building." Turned out we were being evacuated from our evacuation because the roof had blown off the motel! If we hadn't had a rental car we would have been totally SOL, but since we did, we loaded our possessions into it and after the wind quieted later in the day, we drove to another motel. Of course since everyone everywhere had evacuated, the only motel we could find was one that had no power itself -- but that was better than one with no roof. We settled in with our lanterns and paper books and had a dinner of leftover cold foods.
|Friend Scott sent us this photo of the marina as the winds began. "Well played with the haulout decision, guys," he wrote.|
|Being interviewed by the TV news about the motel experience.|
The storm had taken its toll. We were glad we had hauled out, although the motel stay and car rental ruined the progress we had been making on paying off old debt. Could have been so, so much worse. While the boat was out of the water anyway we serviced the seacocks, painted the prop and replaced the zincs, all necessary maintenance. And discovered a few things we hadn't been aware of that needed attention. The boatyard was a depressing place that Dan nicknamed "Boatyard of Lost Dreams." There were many forlorn boats that would clearly never see saltwater again. One had been converted into some sort of standing shack, the props and drives removed and the holes fiberglassed in. The people living on these "shack hulls" were not malicious, just directionless, jobless, and frequently drunk. Some were theoretically working on their boats, the others didn't even pretend. And there were cockroaches everywhere. With our through hulls taken out and soaking in buckets of vinegar there was nothing stopping them from coming aboard. Still, we were safe and undamaged! We could deal with the insects, and the colorful characters who were our temporary neighbors. Still we were delighted when the jobs were done and, with the weather benign again we "splashed" the boat back into the water. Nowhere to go, though, with the marina destroyed. Fortunately it is a pleasant weather season in this part of Florida, because we'll be living at anchor for a while.
|Friend Scott posted this photo of our marina afterward. There were several sunken boats and more boats gone from their moorings. The marina has great protection to the north and east, but this storm came from the south.|
|Very happy to be moving our stuff back aboard!|
|Toasting our mutual storm survival with friends Mike and Lori. Their blog post on the storm is here.|