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Photos of the Day: Hurricane Marty

September 26 - La Paz, BCS

Today's Photos of the Day are from the aftermath of Hurricane Marty at Marina de La Paz in La Paz. The relatively large motoryacht seen in the photo above is an Italian made 60-footer that is reportedly only eight months old. By the way, the Club Cruceros Web site - www.clubcruceros.org - has many photos of the damage everywhere in La Paz, not just at Marina de La Paz. In addition, www.bajainsider.com has a list of boats in La Paz and their status.

Photos Ed Lord

More on Marty

September 26 - Puerto Escondido, BCS

Tim Schaaf of Casual Water in Puerto Escondido, second to La Paz in boat damage, has some numbers that tell a big story. Of the 80 in Puerto Escondido, 60 were unattended, while 20 had crew. Not one of the boats with somebody aboard sank or went aground. About 15 of the 60 - 25% - of the unoccupied boats sank or went aground. That's something to think about long and hard.

"Well, another two boats - Alie and Debutante - are off the rocks," Schaaf continues. "Alie is a small O'D, but Debutante is an enormous steel motorsailer. The Cat's Meow was the muscle. This has been an incredible effort in Puerto Escondido. At the end of the day, I think that we will have unbeached all the boats except maybe two! The four or five that sunk are almost certainly goners, although there will be an attempt to refloat one, and insurance adjusters want to look at another. The two that we may not be able to get off the rocks are Ericazona, high and dry on the rocks in the inner harbor, and Sambita, a 30-ft sailboat on top of the seawall. I have no idea how she could be refloated, since much of the seawall itself is now rubble and would never support a crane. In any event, it looks like we'll have saved about half of the boats we assumed had been lost."

There is no justice. While helping relentlessly with salvage efforts in La Paz, Tim Schaaf got some terrible news - his only brother was killed in a small plane crash.

Mari-Cha IV Set to Reclaim the Transatlantic Record

September 26 - New York, NY

Photo Thierry Martinez

Robert Miller's spectacular new 140-ft ultralight, water ballasted, canting keel rocketship is on standby in New York City waiting for the right weather to make an assault on the Transatlantic Sailing Record and on John Kostecki's 24-hour monohull record. The boat has so much speed potential, with any luck at all she's expected to smash both records. Follow the action at www.mari-cha4.com, which is supposed to go online this weekend. By the way, Mari-Cha is talking about entering the West Marine Pacific Cup next July.

Hurricane Marty Overview

September 26 - Sea of Cortez

The following is the overview of Hurricane Marty that will appear in the October Latitude 38 issue, due to hit the stands next Tuesday, September 30. At the time, it was the most current information available:

Hurricane Marty, the most destructive storm to ever hit the cruising fleet in Mexico, traveled the 700-mile length of the Sea of Cortez September 21-24 with winds reportedly as strong as 120 knots. She left dinged, damaged, and destroyed boats on both the east and west shores of the Sea, as well as on the islands in the middle.

It's impossible to come up with hard numbers of the damage, but it seems that about 35 boats were sunk or driven ashore, a dozen were dismasted, and more than 100 suffered over $10,000 in damages. In most cases, the damage was to cosmetics, bow rollers, unfurled jibs and dodgers.

Prior to Marty, the worst Baja/Sea of Cortez cruising disaster was the Cabo Storm of '82, which claimed 28 boats, and the early '90s storm that claimed about 15 boats in San Carlos. Not even Marty, however, ranks among cruising's worst disasters. When Hurricane Hugo tore through the little Caribbean island of Culebra in 1989 with 200 knots of wind, 250 mostly medium to large sailboats were pulverized on the shore. Six years later, Hurricane Luis damaged almost as many in St. Martin's Simpson Bay Lagoon.

Some cruisers claim Marty is the first storm to have run the entire length of the Sea of Cortez at near or above hurricane force. We don't know if that's true, but Neil Shroyer, who has lived in La Paz for 36 years, calls Marty "a once-in-25-years hurricane." Lisa, in '76, is the only one he can recall being stronger. The heavy rain from that storm caused an earthen dam near La Paz to break - killing 10,000 people! Marty is known to have claimed two civilian lives in La Paz, but there have been no reports of cruiser injuries or deaths.

Many cruisers have been emotionally scarred, however. The Sea is popular with retired cruisers, and for many their boat is their most valuable possession. And probably half of these boats are not insured. Even those whose boats survived unscathed aren't in the best of emotional shape. "We spent a lot of time hugging and crying today at Marina de La Paz," reports Tonya Rickman of the La Paz / Eureka-based Amazing Grace, which had just been repainted and survived undamaged. "We embraced friends who either suffered great loss or who - like us - are suffering from 'survivor guilt'. Our hearts are breaking for those who did not fare as well."

Marty was most destructive in La Paz, although selectively so. Based on weather reports, everyone was anticipating 70 knots of wind - similar to Hurricane Ignacio, whose winds they'd weathered without much trouble a month before. But Marty became ferocious. After about six hours of wind to 60 knots, in the early morning of the 22nd it blew for about two hours at an estimated 105 knots, with gusts to 120 knots. After a calm of about an hour as the eye passed over, Marty started blowing at nearly 100 knots again, this time from the opposite direction. You can't appreciate the force of such winds unless you've lived through them - or stuck your head out a car window while doing 130 mph.

The greatest and most concentrated destruction took place at Mac and Mary Shroyer's Marina de La Paz, and the adjacent Marina Abaroa. Both, according to Neil Shroyer, are 95% destroyed. Virtually all of the 100 boats in the former, and 40 boats in the latter, suffered somewhere between extensive cosmetic damage and complete destruction. Marina de La Paz, which started with just six berths in 1982, had a floating as opposed to rock breakwater on three sides, and wood docks as opposed to newer and stronger concrete docks. These may have been two major factors in the destruction, as just a few miles up the road the larger Marina Palmira, which has a big breakwater and concrete docks, was able to withstand the storm surge and six-foot waves without significant damage to the boats.

Another spot with concentrated destruction was Puerto Escondido, 115 miles north of La Paz. The almost entirely enclosed one mile by three-quarter mile bay is a popular place for cruisers to leave their boats unattended during the hot summer months. Steady 65-knot winds, with reported gusts to 85, combined with six-foot chop, causing boats to drag left and right. Seventeen boats were sunk, driven ashore, or blown out into the Sea.

As of September 24, we patched together the following picture of the storm and its aftermath, based on phone conversations with those who lived through it, emails and secondhand reports. The following information is certainly not going to be completely accurate, but we think it gives a reasonably good idea of what happened:

Cabo San Lucas - Marty passed just to the east with Category II winds - 96 to 110 knots - which was much higher than had been forecast. Cabo Isle Marina Office Manager Norma Flores nonetheless reports the marina and boats came through without significant damage. Almar's Randy Short reports the biggest problem is that seven semi trucks coming down from the States with additional new docks are stalled somewhere south of Santa Rosalia because of washed out roads.

La Paz - After a six-hour prelude of 60-knot winds, which is what they were expecting, La Paz cruisers were shocked by 105-knot winds gusting to 120 knots. It was so bad that Neil Shroyer and crew at Marina de La Paz, who had been on the docks retying boats, had to crawl on their hands and knees to shelter in the marina office. It was at this point that the marina - with some 20 boats whose roller furling jibs had unfurled - started to come apart. After a lull of about an hour, the wind came almost as strong from the opposite direction, bringing with it some 25 boats from the Abaroa Marina. The change of wind direction and onslaught of boats completely wiped out the docks, creating a pileup of boats five and six deep against the eastern cement embankment. About six boats on the inside of the pileup, plus some others, sank. Many others were just jammed together, causing tremendous cosmetic damage.

"My Rhodes Pearson 41 Novia, which has been my home for 18 of the last 27 years, 13 of them in Mexico, started to meet her demise when the docks at Marina de La Paz broke loose, carrying her with them," writes Neill Randall, describing what happened to his boat. "She then struck a broken-off piling, which holed her on the port side, sending her to the bottom. That left Bill Robertson of Shazaam, my loyal friend, to have to jump for his life. Novia was finished off when a 60-ft expedition boat blew down and crushed her, then sank on what was left of her. Now that I've lost all that I own - including my professional tools - I'm emotionally overwhelmed by friends coming to my aid. Although I'm recovering from back surgery in California, it's going to take more than Marty to keep me down and off the water.

As previously mentioned, Marina Palmira suffered little damage, as did the Berkovich Boat Yard. Astilleros Dry Storage made improvements to their boat stands after many boats were knocked over by Juliette in '01. All the boats on stands survived Ignacio, but three of them were knocked over by Marty. We haven't been able to get any specifics on how many boats were anchored out in the bay - who would know - and what happened to them. We presume that most of them, like Clipper de Haro - were lost.

As for the future, Mary Shroyer, who with husband Mac was in San Diego when Marty hit, says they will rebuild. "What else is there to do?" she asked, not sounding particularly bitter or sad. "The biggest problem we have right now is clearing the six or so sunken boats out of the way. Most of the other boats have been able to move down to Marina Palmira, which fortunately had a lot of open slips, or other places."

Puerto Escondido: Cruisers in this small bay were lucky that it was daylight when they were hit by 65-knot winds with gusts to 85 knots. Even so, there was so much rain and spray they often couldn't see the boat nearest to them.

Craig and Marsha of Shaula report that the following boats went aground: Ollie, Black Tender, Debutante, Distant Vision, Ericazona, Kathleen II, La Serena, Sambita, Toy Boat, Wild Flower and Mahayana. Boats that sank include Vagabond Lover, Revellededos, Hi Jinx, Zinfandel and Discover Baja.

Two days after the storm, Tim Schaaf of Casual Water reports that the 20 or so crews on hand - many of the boats were unattended - had begun starting to pick up the pieces. La Serena and Toy Boat were refloated with no apparent damage. Ollie was left aground because of a hole, as was the trimaran Distant Vision, which was found in the mangroves. Mahayana, having been blown out the entrance, was found about 10 miles away at Isla Danzante with a giant hole in one hull. A 20-foot patch was put on her, and she was towed back to Escondido, listing badly and in need of major repair. Winsome had also floated out, and was found very high and dry between Escondido and Canderleros. But she can probably be saved. Wildflower appears to be undamaged in the mangroves, but is so high up it may be hard to refloat her. Debutante has been secured and should be fine.

Schaaf reports that there have many big heroes in the aftermath at Puerto Escondido. One is boat watcher Elvin Schulz "who has been everywhere in his panga, in the harbor to several miles away, helping nonstop. He has had no rest." Then there is Larry of Champagne, "who seems to have spent every waking hour underwater, probing, patching, and repairing." But Schaaf has saved the indispensable heroes, Robin and Martin of The Cat's Meow, for last. "The Cat's Meow is the big, classic, single screw wooden trawler, and she's the only vessel around with the oomph and willingness to drag, tow, or haul anything in the harbor. Her big single screw has been working overtime. Sometimes with dinghies pushing on her sides like bow thrusters, she has been central to every bit of heavy lifting and dragging and towing that we have done. Robin and Martin have been absolutely unstinting in their efforts."

Santa Rosalia: It was reported that six boats rode out tropical storm force winds inside the harbor - "although the docks broke apart, as usual." The boats tied up to the pilings and survived.

Conception Bay: Although the wind peaked out at 75 knots, four boats weathered the storm at Santa Barbara Cove. A small, locally-owned sloop went ashore.

Puerto Don Juan (near Bahia de Los Angeles): At least 24 boats chose to ride out Marty in this well-known hurricane hole. Although the storm went just east of them, they got a reasonably light 55 knots of wind and suffered no significant damage. This might have been partly the result of scrupulous preparation. Before Ignacio was scheduled to strike Don Juan last month, all the boatowners gathered for several seminars on how to best prepare for a hurricane. They must have been good students.

Bahia Willard: This well-protected but seldom-used hurricane hole had three boats - believed to be Patches, Island Sonata and Suka - riding out the 40-knot winds. All three survived, having come over from Puerto Refugio.

Puerto Refugio: "Hurricane Marty was supposed to go to San Carlos so that we would only feel the peripheral effects at Puerto Refugio," report Rich and Donna aboard the Catalina 38 Aries. "In the 90 years of recorded storm history, no hurricane-strength storm has ever gotten this far north, so we elected to stay put. Then Marty headed straight at us, so there was nothing we could do but make the best of it. If we'd anticipated wind over 30 knots - much less 65 knots - we would have removed all sail and the dodger. As it was, the jib came unfurled and shredded, the dodger exploded, the steering cable snapped, the anchor snubbers broke, the anchor tore out of the bow roller and, with a stanchion, bent the roller 90 degrees. Alive and without major structural damage, we have learned to never, ever let your guard down when it comes to hurricanes."

The Crealock 37 Spirit Healer went up on the rocks, suffered a very large hole, and was last seen almost submerged. The husband and wife crew spent the night ashore in a small cave in the company of two marooned pangueros.

The sailboat Mirador also went up on Refugio, but had better luck. Even though she landed on sand, her hull cracked, and it was assumed she'd be lost. But then there was a 180 degree windshift, so the skipper set the jib, and after about 20 minutes of grinding her hull on the sand, sailed back out to deep water!"

San Carlos: Compared to the boats on the Baja side of the Sea, those in the San Carlos area did pretty well.

Marina Seca Dry Storage: Out of 600 boats in dry storage, only Blue Moon, Sun Ray and Glen David partly tipped over. After a previous hurricane, Marina Seca uses special hurricane proof stands.

Marina San Carlos: Two boats broke loose on the marina office side, but the staff dealt with it quickly without damage to the boats.

Bahia San Carlos: The marina people towed as many boats as they could into the marina, so only about 10 were still out in the bay. Of those, Viva, Canta Mar, Toad and El Dorado all went on the rocks or the beach on the side toward Marina Real. Three boats weathered the storm while still on mooring balls. Toru dragged her mooring and two anchors across the bay, but stopped short of going on the beach.

Marina Real Dry Storage: Poppy, a DownEaster, is tipped over against the next boat - looks like damage to both. Dream Catcher is tipped also, and Sasi Lee lost part of her bridge. It's also reported that Magic Mist, a Freeport 36 was tipped, dismasted, and suffered damage to a rail.

Marina Real Marina: Sections of dock in various locations in the marina pulled loose, and some ended up against the shore open the side opposite the banos. One boat lost her mast and there were lots of shredded jibs. Many of the houses on the beach at the old Club Med site were destroyed by high waves.

That's the best we've been able to put together in one day, we're sure they will be more next month. This is just the beginning, of course. The next stage is insurance claims and repairs. Will the claims be handled quickly and to everyone's satisfaction? Right now there are rumors that one popular policy has language saying it is void if a boat is stored or layed up with the sails left on. What, everyone is suddenly wondering, is meant by "stored or layed up"?

Lastly, there is sure to be discussion about boats left unattended and/or with furling sails left on during hurricane season. Do these boats pose an unacceptable risk to other boats? Should these practices be made illegal?


September 26 - The Pacific Ocean and Cyberspace

Who is out making passages in the Pacific and what kind of weather are they having? The YOTREPS daily yacht tracking page has moved to www.bitwrangler.com/psn.

Weather Updates

September 26 - Pacific Ocean

San Francisco Bay Weather

Check out this guide to San Francisco Bay Navigational Aids: http://sfports.wr.usgs.gov/sfports.html.

To see what the winds are like on the Bay and just outside the Gate right now, check out http://sfports.wr.usgs.gov/wind.

The National Weather Service site for San Francisco Bay is at www.wrh.noaa.gov/Monterey.

California Coast Weather

Looking for current as well as recent wind and sea readings from 17 buoys and stations between Pt. Arena and the Mexican border? Here's the place - which has further links to weather buoys and stations all over the U.S.: www.ndbc.noaa.gov/Maps/Southwest.shtml.

Pacific Winds and Pressure

The University of Hawaii Dept. of Meteorology page posts a daily map of the NE Pacific Ocean barometric pressure and winds.

Pacific Sea State

The site for the Pacific Ocean sea states has moved to http://www.mpc.ncep.noaa.gov/shtml/PacRegSSA.shtml.
For views of sea states anywhere in the world, see http://www.oceanweather.com/data.

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