1 LiveBloggin' the ICW: A Rough Couple of Weeks for Boaters...

Sunday, September 24, 2017

A Rough Couple of Weeks for Boaters...

We all watched with some trepidation, and others with outright fear, as an alphabet soup of hurricanes descended on the Caribbean, US east coast and the Gulf Coast. Harvey, Irma, José and Maria have accounted for countless hours of websurfing and tv watching as boaters and others scoured the media for news of where these daemons were going to go in the US.
How many of you now, when you turn on your phone, now have an image link to the National Hurricane Center, or Tropical Tidbits because you've viewed them so frequently? I do. It's funny, except that it's not. That behaviour was a reflection of real fear and concern.
José fortunately didn't cause any serious problems. Maria seems like she might brush up against Hatteras, or possibly make the northeast coast somewhat breezier than normal. She ripped up Puerto Rico however and, coupled with that island's other issues, they've got big problems to work through now.
Not so Harvey and Irma, which have caused huge, frightening damage along their paths, with the Florida Keys being horrifically hit. Friends have been sending me photos and videos of the damage there and throughout the Caribbean - it's staggering. I have no idea how the affected Caribbean islands are going to recover. The charter industry there is, in my opinion, decimated for at least the next two years as charter companies, owners and insurance firms deal with the hundreds of boats destroyed.
For those heading south this year and thinking of the Keys, I strongly suggest you monitor events there and be prepared to reconsider. They simply might not be able to handle an influx of cruisers this winter. We'll know more over the next couple of months as they start the rebuilding process.
On the bright side, and there IS a bright side to all of this despite the tragedies, lost lives and shattered dreams for which we all mourn - the boatbuilding industry is going to have a busy few years, which will be good for all of us. For those rebuilding boats, there's going to be a surfeit of boat parts available as destroyed boats are taken apart.
Anyone selling a new or newish catamaran, and certain monohulls that work well in the charter industry, is going to get top dollar for their boat as the charter industry attempts to put boats back in place.
On a personal note, four of my friends lost boats to Irma, and a fifth friend's boat took serious damage from Maria in Puerto Rico. Two good friends, former Sail to the Sun Ralliers, were trapped on Sint Maarten by Irma while awaiting parts; they were unable to escape.
Due to the incompetency of Canada's Global Affairs division, they spent several days living in fear of running out of food, and of looters and rioting. Meanwhile, the American government had eight flights a day taking their citizens out of the dangerous conditions on the island. I am furious with my government over this, and have said so in a letter to my friends' federal Member of Parliament and the mayor of their hometown.
And no, I haven't heard back from them and don't expect to.
Let me lighten up here now. As usual with disasters of any sort, someone always finds something funny to say to pick up people's spirits. The best chuckle I've heard involves President Trump, and whether you lean left or right, it's a good one...
We now know that the President has control of the weather via his immigration policy. José and Maria didn't land in the US, but Harvey and Irma did. BADA BOOM! 

For those of you paying attention, you know that Sail to the Sun now has two full day Cruising Seminars underway. Between the two seminars, we are bringing you the very best speakers in the cruising lifestyle, people who really know what they are doing and who want to share their knowledge with you.
The first seminar series, featuring Lin Pardey, is at the Annapolis Sailboat Show. Lin will be discussing her 'Creating the Unstoppable Cruising Boat". Lin tells me "Unstoppable Boat is one seminar I enjoy doing", so this will be a fun talk from one of our cruising world's true icons.
Along with Lin, we have captains Jeff and Jean Grossman discussing how to work effectively as a cruising couple. We've all seen THAT captain who yells at his wife who, on the bow, struggles with getting a heavy anchor over, or throwing lines to a dockhand, and we don't want to be that couple! It's a fun seminar with lots of useful information.
Captain Dave Skolnick (past president of the SSCA) smashes some hoary myths about crossing the Gulf Stream, such as never crossing when the letter 'N' is in the forecast. With many years of delivery experience behind him, Dave knows what he's talking about and this is a seminar from which even old Bahamian hands will take away great information to make their crossings easier and faster. I know that last years Sail to the Sun ICW Ralliers enjoyed it and it helped make their Gulf Stream crossings easier.
Greg Kutsen, of Mantus Anchors, gives what I consider to be the best seminar on anchoring I've ever seen. If sleeping well at anchor matters to you, this is a 'must see' seminar. Best of all, you don't have to have a Mantus anchor to take advantage of these tips and Greg doesn't base his seminar on his product either. Special thanks also to Mantus for sponsoring our full day seminar. You can see their product line here - and if you want a special seminar discount on any Mantus product, contact me directly using the popup in the lower left corner.
The Boat Galley's well loved Carolyn Shearlock will be discussing "Provisioning for Cruisers Made Easy" Hurricane Preparation and How to Protect Your Boat".
I didn't know until about five minutes ago that Carolyn got her start writing by discussing hurricane preparedness.
Let me tell you how good she is - her Gemini catamaran 'Barefoot Gal' was one of the few boats in the Boot Key Harbor mooring field that survived Irma - not only survived, but with very minimal damage. In her usual humble fashion, Carolyn says this was partly due to luck, but frankly, her extensive preparations were the key to this outcome.
This may well be the most valuable cruising seminar you'll ever hear. For a taste of this seminar, check out the Boat Galley's blogpost "How Did She Survive Irma?"
Leaving the best (and least humble!) to last, I will be discussing the "First Timer's Guide to Sailing South". This is my signature seminar and is based on 30 successful AND enjoyable transits on the ICW. You're cruise south on the ICW can be a purgatory, or a pleasure. I'll tell you how to make it a pleasure.
After all of this great stuff, we are featuring a Round Table Question and Answer session so that you can ask the speakers the questions that are vexing you. For example, what are Dave Skolnick's tips on cooking on a boat galley, since he's an amateur boat chef. Or Jeff and Jean's tips on buying a cruising boat? They consult with purchasers to assist them in making the right decision. What was Lin's most frightening moment?
You might want to ask Greg how Mantus Anchors came to be, or about the places he's visited as a full time cruiser.
Lunch is included of course, and after all of this thirst making work, we've got a happy hour for you where you can meet the speakers personally.
It's going to be a great seminar, and I invite you to join us at 8:30 on October 9, at the Annapolis Maritime Museum. Here's a link to more information, including ticket information - Sail to the Sun ICW Cruising Seminar. Remember, seating is limited, so don't wait to purchase your tickets.
If you've been considering joining the Sail to the Sun ICW Rally this fall, leaving Hampton on October 19, you still have time to sign up - we have one spot left due to a family crisis that caused one couple to have to postpone their trip south to next year.
For more information and to receive a Rally brochure, or to sign up, click through to 'Sail to the Sun ICW Rally'. It's a "two month floating party" according to one participant, and the most fun you'll have sailing south. And that's what it's all about, right?