Friday, September 04, 2009

Jimena (Thursday, 8PM): It's Just SITTING There

After spending nearly 11 hours beating the hell out of Santa Rosalia, Jimena headed out to sea towards Isla Tiberon. On arrival, the storm parked itself and spun around inflicting a similar hell on San Carlos and Guaymas. We have heard rumors of boats lost off moorings and other damage on the docks, but we know very little in the way of details.

Then she came back. We were feeding the children a nice hot dinner last night when Rhumb Line came down the dock with Don Anderson's weather report. Confirmed by NOAA and other sources, the consensus tracked Jimena doing a 180 and coming back towards Santa Rosalia. Because what we needed was another hurricane. No one had loosened any lines, but there was still a great deal of work to be done. Ocean Blue and Don Quixote finished feeding the kids and then hustled them back up to the girls' bathroom for the night. We prepped the marina's emergency generator, moved the cats, and then set to work on the docks. T

The reports estimated we had two to four hours before winds of 25 to 35 with gusts in the 45 range. That's not bad when everything is in fine shape. But Santa Rosalia is a mess. The marina is doing surprisingly well, but the boats, the crews, the gear... we're worn. Also, we'd set for east and south east the day before. Now we were looking at north and northwest initially before the storm would pass and clock around. So more work on lines, chafe gear, tightening every cleat and every bolt on the docks. We ran additional lines for the north side boats over to the naval pier. And we scavenged everywhere for supplemental fenders for those boats whose fenders were smashed absolutely flat the night before.

Then we waited.

And waited. And waited. All night long, we experienced small squalls with winds 5 to 15 and a steady, dreary drizzle which would occasionally get serious but reminded me most strongly of a Seattle storm. The kids settled down eventually. The cats also finally decided we were not going to change our minds and reluctantly set up camp near their food and carriers.

By midnight, we decided that weather forecasters know nothing about Jimena. Not one prediction of this storm ever seems to subsequently materialize. Not Don Anderson – for many the cruisers' guru of all things Baja weather, not NOAA or NOGAPS, not the Europeans or the Canadians or the Mexicans. We all agreed that we could basically put the weather up to a vote of the sailors on the dock and produce an equally accurate result.

By two, we stopped waiting and collapsed. Figuring we would wake up if the wind picked up, the exhausted crews and the marina employees just fell down dead, many in their gear, and trusted that Jimena would let us know if we needed to get up. Since Monday, I've had a total of approximately 10 hours of sleep caught in one and two hour catnaps, on a bus, on the floor of the bathroom, in chairs. I actually think it would have taken a Cat 2 hurricane to wake me up. Jimena spitting at me in tropical storm mode wasn't going to do it.

This morning, my body finally decided that I'd had enough rest to be a responsible adult again and allowed me to awake. Unbelievably, the weather hadn't changed, nor had the forecast. Jimena is still sitting out there stuck halfway between Guaymas and Mulege. Bands of wind and squalls pass through from the north periodically. Dark, fast moving clouds still fill the sky though we now catch glimpses of blue. The port captain announced that it would dissipate by noon. However, here we are at noon... Like I said. Take a vote. I vote that we're done.

The city is a disaster. The authorities and people were getting ahead of the mud and rock yesterday, but I cringe at the thought of what all this steady rain is doing to already unstable hill sides. The flooding and mud yesterday were truly unbelievable. I didn't walk up into the town itself, but have seen the photos of those who have. I hope to be able to share these with you as soon as we have a solid connection. The town of Santa Rosalia we know has disappeared under drifts of mud and stone – all our friends, our favorite tiendas, taco stands, and verduras vendors have been scraped off the streets and into the harbor.

We at Singlar Marina are incredibly lucky. While the officina is essentially a write-off, the rest of the facilities are still operational. Unbelievably, the staff just got the power up to all the buildings and are working on the dock circuit. Water is still our biggest concern, though all the boats have full tanks. We'll also be able to use the storm and pool water for washing ourselves, dishes, and the mud off the boats.

DrC was able to send me a message from the States. The emotions are so close to the surface that just holding the printout in my hand almost made me break down. Aeron and Mera both seemed equally moved. It was important to have that bit of contact. To know that he was aware of our safety.

He did say that he hoped we could get out before the next storm arrives. I'm afraid that's just not possible. The harbor is closed for the foreseeable future. The town surely must want to get rid of this fleet as we're just another set of mouths to feed and water at the moment. However, there is an island of debris floating just outside the entrance that renders the harbor unnavigable. If these Santa Rosalians pull another rabbit out of their incredibly hardworking hat, we might get out in a week.

At this rate, Jimena will still be sitting in the middle of the sea contemplating it's soggy navel.


Jessica said...

Oh I am so glad to hear you guys made it through the worst and hopefully the last of Jimena. I'm sending tons more positive vibes your way and hoping that soon this will all be a distant memory you can recount over sun downers with a gentle breeze sailing you smoothly to new and fantastic destinations. Please update when you can so we all know how things are :).

Jessica said...

Hi it's Jessica again. I know that we have never met before but I just wanted to offer a helping hand in any way that I can. I love reading you blog and it has inspired my husband and I to make our dreams of cruising come true. Your blog is a really great resource for those pondering the cruising life and I thank you very much for putting your time and energy into it. If there is anything my family can do to help please don't hesitate to ask. If you need things mailed to you or whatever let me know. We live in a suburb of Portland Oregon and have family in Seattle. We have 2 girls that are 3 and 1 and the eldest loves me to read your blog to her. Any ways, please let me know if there is anything at all we can do to help by emailing me at Take care!