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September 3, 2008

Hurricane Seasons Rev Up on Both Coasts

Intense storms are lined up in the Atlantic. Precisely where they’ll make landfall is anybody’s guess.

© NOAA graphic

Luckily for Gulf Coast residents, the damage inflicted by Hurricane Gustav wasn’t nearly as bad as some experts had predicted. No sooner had coastal residents breathed a sigh of relief, though, than they realized that three more named storms are currently brewing in the Atlantic — there’s also storm action off the Pacific coast of Mexico.

Tropical Storm Hanna is currently marauding through the southern Bahamas on a northwesterly track with sustained winds near 60 mph. NOAA advises that she may regain hurricane strength Thursday or Friday. Next in line is Ike. Now lying 740 miles east-northeast of the Leeward Antilles Islands, he is currently near hurricane strength, and has the potential to build to a Category 2 hurricane (96-110 mph winds) before reaching the Bahamas and Hispanola early next week. Lined up behind Ike is Josephine, already the 10th named storm of the season. With perhaps eight more expected, 2008 is shaping up to be a particularly active year.

Meanwhile, the storm outlook on the West Coast is quite a bit rosier. A quick look at a weather map might lead you to fear that Tropical Depression Karina is poised to soon slam into the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula. However, she is only packing winds of 30 knots, and is fortunately heading west.

But hang onto your hats. It’s still only early September, so we haven’t yet reached the statistical peak of hurricane season on either coast. For up-to-the-minute info on storm activities, check out NOAA’s excellent resources at the National Hurricane Center.

No Fuel for Foreign Boats

"The Government of Trinidad has once again proven that they just don’t have a clue," says John Anderton of the Alameda-based Cabo Rico 37 Sanderling. "I have been a supporter of Trinidad for several years, resisting the opportunity to find fault with the many strange and counter-productive issues that this country seems to delight in having. The time has come to declare an end to stupidity.

"Last week the Customs office seems to have run amok. Prior to this latest outrage, the Customs office has gone out of its way to continually demonstrate that foreign flagged yachts are really not welcome in Trinidad. Boats checking out have one hour to leave or risk fines. Boats sailing between Trinidad and Tobago may not stop at any of the anchorages along the north coast of Trinidad. Boat parts await clearance from Customs at their discretion. I’m currently waiting for a control unit for my autopilot — which I purchased through a local vendor — to be cleared. It’s been here for a week. The vendor reports that Customs says they’re too busy but they would clear the part after 4 p.m., charging an overtime fee. The vendor has refused. I know this is just a game, so I wait.

"On August 24, Customs notified the two fuel docks that they were in violation of Trinidadian law by selling government subsidized fuel to foreign-flagged vessels, and it was therefore banning the sale of fuel to all foreign-flagged boats. So folks, no fuel in Trinidad even though the fuel docks have been doing so for 17 years. More than 2,000 boats make Trinidad their yearly hurricane refuge so to say people are concerned is an understatement. Why the heck they just didn’t raise the prices for foreign vessels is unclear.

"A meeting held August 29 was attended by boaters, vendors, and many government officials to solve this huge problem. Of couse the decision was made that more meetings are needed."

We’ll keep you updated on this developing situation here on ‘Lectronic and in Latitude.

‘All About Cruising Mexico’ Talk

Dick Markie, harbormaster at Nuevo Vallarta’s Paradise Village Marina, will be giving two talks on "All About Cruising Mexico" — the first is this Saturday, September 6, at the Sausalito West Marine at 1 p.m.; the second will be held at the Oakland West Marine on September 9 at 5:30 p.m.