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Photo of the Day - Waiting for Charley

August 13 - Caribbean / Gulf of Mexico

Hurricane Charley south of Cuba at 3:45 PM EDT yesterday
Photo Courtesy http://www.osei.noaa.gov

"Thought you might like a worm's eye-view of Hurricane Charley as he churns toward Key West. Charley appeared almost by magic in the eastern Caribbean earlier this week, with no fanfare and no threats to land. As you know, most storms grow up in the Atlantic and burn up a few Eastern Caribbean islands on their way to the States or Mexico, but Charley 'just appeared' and started building and threatening Jamaica.

"Now, Thursday evening, Charley is south of Cuba and is apparently building ferociously. Just yesterday, many Key West residents were very nonchalant as Charley looked to pose little more of a threat than any other vicious summer squall. Unfortunately, the hurricane's forward speed slowed and the storm started to build strength. It is now considered a possible category three by the time it reaches the Keys tomorrow morning (8 am EST Friday). Sustained winds in excess of 95 knots (110 mph) make this storm a possible threat on the level of Georges, which swept the Keys in September, 1998 (as we were preparing to take off on the Baja Ha-Ha!).

"I am working as a 911 dispatcher at the Key West Police Department and Layne is on duty in her job as juvenile probation officer (with our Labrador Emma), so our family is safe in 200 mile-per-hour buildings. As for the boat, that's another story. We stripped Miki G in her slip at Sunset Marina, which is a modern floating dock marina on the north side of Stock Island - the island next to Key West - and we are hoping for the best. Our hull insurance premium is paid!

Michael & Layne during the 1998 Baja Ha-Ha Rally
Photo Courtesy Miki G

"This isn't the first storm I have been through, but if Charley gets up to category three as predicted it will be the strongest I've ever seen, (I lived in St. Petersburg from 1989 to 1992), and as the sun goes down and the sky becomes covered with whispy red clouds, I'm starting to get a little knot in my stomach. Here at the call center we are getting lots of calls (which make this email a bit choppy as I have to respond to everything from reports of wires down, possible bomb threats, fights, drunks, and car wrecks - and the winds haven't even started yet!!) Most are from people who are starting to get apprehensive. Nobody expected a category three!

"Ray Jason has a slip at Sunset a couple of docks from us, and another Northern California sailor pointed out he is a bit of a jinx . . . where he goes, storms seem to follow. I will go over to see him on Aventura after this mess is over to see how he fared. The funny thing is Layne and I are scheduled to fly to Santa Cruz on Thursday for a two-week vacation - and we can't wait for the cold, gray skies of California!"

Michael Beatie
Key West Police Department

Readers - Charley's center passed west of the Florida Keys this (Friday) morning, with the outer bands bringing rain and wind of up to 50 mph to the lower Keys, but only minor damage was immediately reported. The hurricane is expected to strengthen and hit Tampa Bay later today. Storm surge in the Tampa area could reach up to 16 feet if Charley hits at the expected 120 mph.

Midway Fuel Woes

August 13 - The South Pacific

Do you remember us recently reporting that the Department of Fish & Wildlife on Midway Atolls charges yachts a ridiculous fee of $500 to put an anti-pollution boom around the boat if they want fuel? Gary Hoover of Hawaii finds this ironic, for, according to him, "In February of 2003, the largest fuel spill ever on the island happened under Fish & Wildlife's management, or lack thereof. About 100,000 gallons of JP-5 jet fuel leaked out of an underground pipe, so the spill was contained underground, but my understanding was that the spill grew so large because no one was monitoring the huge fuel tank levels on a daily basis, which is a normal operating procedure, so one huge tank just drained out."

Speaking of Sinking at the Dock...

August 13 - Sausalito

Hi! After making the 800-mile trip from Whidbey Island, WA in our 1986 Gemini 3000 catamaran, we pulled into Schoonmaker Marina. Funny how things work. When we get to the dock we were directed to take a slip which had just been vacated by Profligate, Latitude's 63-ft cat.

The wind forecast all the way down the coast was 15-25 out of the NW. We motored half the way due to no wind, then at Cape Blanco we had 40+ knots, with overcast and fog most of the way.

While sitting in your slip, I had just read your article about boats sinking in the Bay and who to call, when I heard what sounded like a generator start. Wondering who would start a genset at 2130, I looked out the door to see the skipper of Happy Doc with his dewatering pump and hose climbing onto a trawler next to him. My buddy and I walked over to the boat, which was now bow down and listing badly to port. Between the four of us we managed to pump out 1,500 gallons of water and figure out that the hot water tank had rusted through. The freshwater hose had been left on and started filling the boat.

The owner was fortunate that the skipper on Happy Doc realized something was wrong with the boat and that he had a pump capable of pumping out that much water.

Rob & Linda
S/V Cat'n About

Rob and Linda - Thanks for the report. Sorry we missed that little drama! Since many people still wonder where our 'permanent' berth is, we'll mention again that Profligate is truly a nomad boat who doesn't have a slip. She usually spends about two months a year at a Schoonmaker guest dock. The other 10 months she is on the move.

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