Surprisingly, it worked out. I actually got to take the day off yesterday. I got up yesterday morning and wrote my daily (well, very near daily) post and then laid back down for about an hour and a half. Then I spent a while straightening up below decks. (I’m a slob to begin with. When I go more than a week without a day off the boat can become worse than messy.) Then I cleaned up and drove to Florida City (the tip of the mainland) for a free oil and filter change at Largo Honda. I had my trusty dusty MacBook Pro with me and took advantage of the wait (and the dealership’s free WiFi and very nice waiting area) to research Irene and our local marine and land weather forecasts. While on the mainland I tended to a few other chores and bought gas for about 12 cents a gallon less than the cheapest price I could find in the Keys.
While driving back to the Florida Sea Base I stopped at West Marine and exchanged a pair of swim trunks that had blown a non-critical seam. My next stop was at the grocery store. Then I headed back to the base.
Captain Rich hosted the 2011 Captains Dinner v2.0 last night. It started with an end of year debriefing at the Florida Sea Base and then moved to the Islamorada Fishing Club for dinner. Our captains are VERY fortunate to have Capt. Rich as a boss.
Here’s an excerpt from yesterday’s posting on Dr. Jeff Masters’ Wunderblog:
Irene’s impact on the Bahama Islands
Irene is making a direct hit on Crooked Island (population 350) in the Bahamas, and will continue west-northwest and hit Rum Cay (population 80) and Cat Island (population 1700) late tonight. These unfortunate islands will bear the full brunt of Irene’s 115+ mph winds and 8 – 13 foot storm surge, and suffer major damage that will take months to recover from. Major damage is also likely on Long Island (population 3000) and San Salvador Island (population 1000.) Shortly after midnight tonight, winds at the capital of Nassau, home to 70% of the population of the Bahamas, will rise above tropical storm force, and increase through the night. By late morning on Thursday, sustained winds will peak on Nassau at just below hurricane force, 60 – 70 mph. Nassau will miss the brunt of the storm, and I expect the airport should be able to re-open on Friday. Winds on Grand Bahama Island in Freeport will rise above tropical storm force late Thursday morning, and increase to a peak of 45 – 60 mph late Thursday afternoon. Grand Bahama will also miss the brunt of the storm, but Abaco Island to its east will likely experience Category 2 hurricane conditions Thursday afternoon. However, Abaco will probably miss the right front eyewall of Irene with the strongest winds and highest storm surge.
Long Island is one of the locations Captains Mike and Kelly Lucivero like to frequent in the off season. The Abacos is where the Florida Sea Base Bahamas program is based. The programs have concluded there so our concerns are with the captains, their families and vessels.
We still have scuba participants at the Florida Sea Base (Islamorada base). The wind conditions may make diving very challenging today and tomorrow. Today may be okay if the wind holds from the north. If the wind clocks to the west later today or tomorrow there may be no diving. (Nor sleeping for people on the docks as west winds jerk the boats around in the slips and makes sleeping very challenging.) The National Weather Service marine forecast reads:
Today…Northwest winds 20 to 25 knots and gusty…except near 25 knots and gusty off the upper keys. Seas 6 to 8 feet. Scattered showers and isolated thunderstorms…except numerous showers and scattered thunderstorms off the upper keys.
Tonight…West to northwest winds 20 to 25 knots and gusty…highest off the upper keys. Seas 6 to 9 feet. Scattered showers and isolated thunderstorms…except numerous showers and scattered thunderstorms off the upper keys early.
Friday…Southwest to west winds 20 to 25 knots. Seas 5 to 7 feet. Scattered showers and isolated thunderstorms.
Friday Night…Southwest to west winds near 20 knots. Seas 4 to 7 feet. Scattered showers and isolated thunderstorms.
Saturday…Southwest to west winds 15 to 20 knots. Seas 3 to 5 feet. Scattered showers and isolated thunderstorms.
Sunday…Southwest winds 10 to 15 knots. Seas 3 to 5 feet. Scattered showers and isolated thunderstorms.
Monday…South to southwest winds near 10 knots. Seas 2 to 3 feet. Scattered showers and thunderstorms.
In addition to Hurricane Irene, Tropical Depression 10 sprung to life overnight in the Atlantic. The forecast tracks have it going almost due north and hopefully won’t be any threat to land masses. Only two and a half more months and this hurricane season will be concluded.
Our local forecast is being complicated by a trough that moved in from the north yesterday colliding with the effects of Hurricane Irene to our east. The wind and waves have been kicking Escape about in the slip since 0445 this morning.
In the unlikely event that you haven’t seen enough to be convinced that Hurricane Irene is a large, dangerous system, I thought I would edit this morning’s post and add this last graphic before shutting down the computer.
I will be heading back to the Florida Keys Dive Center in just a few minutes to resume my IDC audit. We have another instructor candidate joining us today for some last minute refreshers before the Instructor Exam this weekend. I am cautiously optimistic that we will be finished with the IDC by noon tomorrow.
Stay safe. Stay dry. And hang on to you hat!
Capt. Steve Willis
Aboard S/V Escape