At peace in placid waters

Sunrise at La Gringa
Originally uploaded by behang

We are happy to have been spared any action from hurricane Rick. The system sped up, then turned east and broke up much sooner than anyone expected. Mazatlan was still hit squarely, but at least by then it had been reduced to tropical storm force. Nothing to sniff at, but no longer the ugly hurricane Rick had become early on.

It was a quiet few days, as we waited and watched the weather from the hurricane hole where we took Totem. But now, instead of remembering being hunkered down in a stripped out boat watching the weather instruments and radar, we have been enjoying placid water and clear skies like these. I am incredibly grateful!

Will there be another storm like Rick near us this year? It’s pretty unlikely. The hurricane season ends at different times depending on who you ask. Most insurance companies peg it at the end of October. Some people would say mid-November, others would put it at the end of the month to be outside any historical activity. We are staying above latitude 27N, a generally accepted safe line, until November. But dates and “safe zones” are really meaningless in the face of unpredictable natural forces. In the unusual event that another system does form and head this way, we will be in a good position to run for safe harbor again.

We’ve been surprised by the number of boats that headed south weeks before the earliest estimate for the end of hurricane season. I estimate that between the beginning of October and the emergence of Rick, about half the boats that were in the northern Sea had gone south. The departures from the safer area in northern part of the Sea of Cortez seemed to come in clumps. It is impossible not to associate a bit of unhealthy group “thinking” with this… what you might call a herd mentality. Some kind of safety in numbers, maybe? Or willingness to make a plainly risky choice, because another boat is doing it too? Some boats were driven by commitments to be in a certain place at a certain time. That sounds pretty suspect, too.

Even outside the spectre of a hurricane, there’s no doubt we make conservative choices. When it comes to picking anchorages choosing passage timing, it’s our first priority to be safe. Jamie likes to say “I don’t need to prove I’m a man by picking an exposed anchorage when there’s a forecast for 40 knots.” Perhaps as a downside, there have been some passages we’ve motored more than we like because the winds were too light for sailing. If that’s a tradeoff, I’ll take it!

3 Responses

  1. Glad the Totem Clan is safe! It makes absolutely no sense at all to put a family at “risk” and for what? Stay safe and continue to enjoy your cruise!

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