Monday, October 10, 2011

This Might Get Loud
By Michael

See that "S" above the two M's? That is Puerto
Vallarta. The little notch in the coast is
Banderas Bay. The bay is surrounded by a
rugged, hurricane-disrupting range.
(from NOAA data compiled at
Hurricane Jova’s predicted path shifted north and west over the past 24 hours (much closer to Puerto Vallarta). All three Banderas Bay harbors closed today and will remain closed until this thing passes. It is a category 3 hurricane with winds of 110 knots, gusting to 140; seas are running 38 feet—nasty stuff. But while all of yesterday’s models indicated likely strengthening of the storm to a category 4 by landfall, that now seems unlikely and Jova may in fact diminish in strength as it gets closer.
People here in our marina (La Cruz’s Riviera Nayarit) are beginning to get busy preparing. Half-a-dozen boats came in from the anchorage outside the harbor and took available slips. Most folks now have a web of dock lines securing their boats. Fenders are everywhere. Canvas awnings are disappearing. Only half of the two-dozen fishing pangas across the marina are still in the water; I expect the rest to be removed tomorrow.
Everyone is buzzing with hurricane talk, recounting their past experiences and their predictions for this one. The morning VHF net is all about preparations. Mike Danielson of PV Sails is giving detailed reports in scheduled broadcasts.
Unless this thing makes a geographically-unlikely direct hit on Puerto Vallarta, I still think it will break up quickly after making landfall just south of us. According to the National Hurricane Center in Florida, “RAPID WEAKENING IS LIKELY ONCE THE CORE OF THE TROPICAL CYCLONE MOVES INLAND AND OVER THE MOUNTAINOUS TERRAIN OF SOUTHWESTERN MEXICO.” And mountainous it is: very rugged with peaks reaching more than ten-thousand feet. I think we will see some extreme tropical weather here, but nothing that will put our lives or boat in danger, so long as we prepare and play it safe.
Windy and I are preparing for very heavy rain and intense squalls. We are removing our dinghy and sun shade tomorrow, but leaving the sails up. I plan to wrap the main with a line over the sail cover and add some turns of the sheets around the head sail. After that, we’ll add some dock lines and fenders, pull the boat another 12 inches from the dock, clear the decks of everything, unzip the dodger windows, secure the solar panels, and hang on.
In the event it gets worse than we anticipate, we do have an offer from an expat living in town to use his home as a shelter. And unless it is raining very hard tomorrow, I plan to hold my weekly Spanish Class for Kids here at the yacht club. I think the theme will be weather.


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