Puerto Rico has sustained a ‘direct hit’ by Hurricane Maria, now a Category 4 storm with winds up to 140 mph — and perhaps worse, unrelenting rain inundating the island, which had already sustained damage from Hurricane Irma.
The National Hurricane Center said that Maria may cause life-threatening flooding from storm surge and rainfall. As much as 15 inches is expected to fall on residents, many of whom have no roofs over their heads. An additional five to 10 inches of rain is expected to fall in the Virgin islands, according to the New York Times.
"A hurricane warning is also in effect for the north coast of the Dominican Republic, the Turks and Caicos Islands [which were battered by Irma], and the southeastern Bahamas," the National Hurricane Center said.
Puerto Rico has been a US territory since 1898, and in June held a non-binding referendum on statehood, with the majority of Puerto Ricans voting to become the 51st US state. We’re not sure what implications this might have in terms of qualifying for assistance from FEMA, but we know the island, which effectively declared bankruptcy in May, is going to need all the help it can get.
Puerto Rican boaters were among the first to help the Virgin Islands in the wake of Hurricane Irma, with a flotilla bringing relief supplies to their neighbors to the east. But that same boating core — which is concentrated on the island’s east end — has been exposed to the full force of Maria.
The eye of Hurricane Maria reportedly passed directly over Fajardo, Puerto Rico, home to a 1,000-boat marina and a huge offseason dry-storage facility, as well as several smaller marinas. While many said that Puerto Rico was largely spared the worst of Irma (but still sustained some damage and experienced widespread power outages), normally safe havens like Salinas and Ponce have reportedly been under assault by wind and storm surge.
As Maria has moved from east to west through the Caribbean, St. Croix took a direct hit. Not considered a yachting center like other US Virgin Islands such as St. Thomas and St. John, St. Croix is home to Gold Coast Yachts, the biggest builder of sailing charter cats in the States, and the buiilder of the Bieker 53 Fujin.
Maria’s eye didn’t hit St. Thomas or St. John as severely as the islands to the south, but those two islands still saw strong winds and big seas from the southeast, which surged right into the main harbors Charlottle Amalie, and Road Town, the capital of the British Virgin Islands.
We’re still waiting for the dust to settle, and don’t have a grasp of the human toll, both in terms of the number of people who have perished in these appalling storms, and in terms of how people will move forward and rebuild after having lost everything.
For the charter industry, it appears that the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season — which is only on the ‘M’ storm and doesn’t officially end until November 30 — has caused unprecedented damage to recreational boat fleets.
CORRECTION: This article originally and incorrectly stated that St. Thomas and St. John were part of the British Virgin Islands, when in fact (and of course) they are part of the US Virgin Islands.
Sisters Cheryl and Machelle Yutzy of Pennslyania were, in the Grand Poobah’s estimation, the most hilarious potential Baja Ha-Ha crew at the Fall Crew List Party on September 6 in Sausalito.
They’d called the Poobah up the previous day wanting to know exactly where the Crew List Party was going to be in San Diego. They were shocked to discover it wasn’t in San Diego, as big sister Machelle had thought, but in the Bay Area.
Despite the fact these young women, 20 and 26 respectively, were over 500 miles from the party site and not overburdened with money, they weren’t going to be denied. "Don’t worry," they assured the Poobah, not asking for sympathy or assistance, "we’re rolling with the punches and we’ll be there."
Sure enough, they showed up. Twenty-year-old Cheryl handed the Poobah her business card, which read, "Cheryl Yutzy, The Jane of All Trades, Young & Ambitious." Love it! These two are going places, and we don’t mean just the Ha-Ha.
Here’s how they describe themselves for those of you who are looking for high-energy, albeit inexperienced, crew:
"My name is Cheryl. I’m 20 and an environmental activist who loves to surf and live simple. The energetic little sister with all the great ideas. (Like doing the Ha-Ha!)," Cheryl wrote.
"My name is Machelle. I’m 26, a gluten-free, green-minded yogi with a passion for horticulture and farming. I’m conditioned and comfortable with manual labor, sustainable gardening, and sunshine. The strategic big sister with the direction," Machelle said.
"Our slight detour to the wrong city was clearly not planned by my strategic big sister," said Cheryl, "but we know how to roll with the punches and make a good time out of it regardless! If it’s not a blessing, it’s a lesson, which is still a blessing in disguise!
"We’re from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and we’ve been backpacking through California for two months until the start of the Ha-Ha. We have never sailed before, but we are willing and eager to learn! This trip has been on our Bucket List ever since our first big trip together three years ago in Hawaii where we first heard about the rally. This is the year we finally get to check it out.
"Regardless of what happens or where we end up, we have faith that the opportunity and moment will reveal itself to us when the time is right. I believe Kina’ole is the word I’m looking for. It’s a Hawaiian word that means doing the right thing, at the right time, for the right person, the right way, for the first time without expectations."
The Poobah knows these two are going to be successes at whatever they want to do in life because they obviously missed out on the Entitlement and Victimhood genes that are crippling so many young people today.
If the Yutzy sisters sound like potentially good crew, you can contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org. Just don’t make Machelle navigator. If they can’t get a ride on any other boat, the Poobah will sure as heck find a place for them on Profligate.
A number of other folks have written us asking to better publicize their desire to crew on the Ha-Ha. Here’s your opportunity to get your name out in ‘Lectronic. Send your name, sailing experience rated on a scale of 1-10, and email address to email@example.com. Nothing else. And we’ll see if we can’t get it published in a week or so.
There’s something for women sailors north and south this coming weekend, September 23-24. Down south, several yacht clubs and the Women’s Sailing Association run WOW and WAH, the largest women’s regatta in Marina del Rey. The event has a 39-year history of empowering women to take the helm. Women at the Helm (WAH) is coed with a woman at the helm; Women on the Water (WOW) is all women on the crew. There are performance boats and cruising boats, spinnaker and non-spinnaker divisions.
"Many boats feature the crews in ‘uniform’: unique T-shirts," comments Andy Kopetzky of Del Rey YC. "One of the more memorable T-shirt messages was ‘You ease the sheet and I’ll blow the guy.’ Banter that runs through the post-race party consists of, ‘WOW! We did great, won a trophy, played all the wind shifts, etc.; or ‘WAH! The spinnaker wrapped around the forestay, we came in DFL, lost the turtle, etc." Entries will be accepted until noon on Friday. See www.regattanetwork.com/event/15425.
Up north, Island Yacht Club in Alameda will host the Women’s Sailing Seminar, complete with workshops on and off the water for newbies through advanced levels. Tracks include Beginner, Crew, Sailor, Divas, Spinnaker and Racing. Keynote speakers on Saturday morning will be Gail Hine and Linda Newland. Featured on Sunday will be the choice of a race on the Estuary or a cruise out to San Francisco Bay. Copious door prizes will include some goodies from Latitude 38. See www.iyc.org/wss.
Yumi Wilson was reading through a copy of Latitude 38 when she came across a flyer saying ‘Your Lucky Day’. Yumi’s boyfriend Art Hartinger, who’s an avid sailor, grabbed his Latitude at either Encinal Yacht Club or South Beach Harbor, unknowingly picking up a copy with a winning flyer inside.
It’s a simple idea (think a low-key version of the Golden Ticket in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), but we’ve randomly snuck a few flyers into the mag, offering a select, lucky few a Latitude 38 hat — just send us a photo of you and the ‘Golden Ticket’ and share a sailing tale.
Yumi — who is from Oakland and an associate professor at San Francisco State’s School of Journalism — has picked up sailing recently, having taken a course at Tradewinds Sailing Club. She’s participating in Island Yacht Club’s 25th annual all-women sailing course in Alameda this weekend.
And in a testament to how small the sailing world is, Tim Henry, our newest editor, had a few classes with Yumi while he was at SF State in the mid-2000s (we hope Yumi approves of how Tim edited this article).
Keep an eye out for Art and Yumi sailing San Francisco Bay. Hat cords are recommended.