Thursday, September 03, 2009

Jimena (Thursday, 5 PM): We're Still Here

I am so sorry we couldn't report in sooner. Don Quixote, Dulci, the girls and I are doing fine. Our only casualty on the boat may be the SSB. Or DrC disabled it before he left without telling me. I have to prowl around and do some troubleshooting.

Santa Rosalia was hit extremely hard by Jimena. I suspect you have little news, the American news media noted that Cabo survived and said little else. Well, Jimena weakened and slowed as she made land fall, moved north and then parked somewhere near Bahia Concepcion about 70 miles south of here. The problem was not really the winds. We mostly saw 40 to 50 with only about an hour or so in the 60s. The problem was the duration. The high winds and heavy seas started blasting at about 3PM and didn't stop until roughly 11PM. Equipment, lines, docks, boats and people almost didn't make it. It felt like it was never going to stop.

I am writing up several long reports about our experience, some of which I wrote during the storm itself. I'll post these as I can when we have Internet. That may be a very long time, however.

First the bad news. Santa Rosalia is a disaster. Flooding in the city and surrounding area is tremendous. The four water pump stations between here and Mulege are all destroyed. The harbor is full of trucks, cars, and household debris. We know of one fatality -- a policeman trying to rescue someone in a truck that was washing out into the harbor. We anticipate more, though. The extent of flooding and landslides in the region has to be seen to be believed.

Now the good news. The resiliency of these people is tremendous. Highway 1 -- our gateway to food, water, transport, and aid -- is already opening up. The harbor crew believe we'll see the power back on within a few days and water trucks arriving on roughly the same schedule. The local favorite restaurant -- Terco's Casa de Pollo -- had not one, not two, but THREE large refridgerator trucks park outside their restaurant for the duration of the hurricane. We expect to be having our roasted chicken within a day or so.

The crew here at Marina Singlar Santa Rosalia were nothing short of heroic. The incredible length of the storm was killing us. I admit freely to all of you that we thought we were going to lose the boats.

Steve and I could feel it, we could see the lines parting and the docks coming apart. We had a dangerously positioned upwind boat who could have taken out all of us. And the storm just keep going on and on and on. The crew of all the boats pitched in however and where ever they could. I've never seen such a strong sense of community and shared purpose. There is not a boat on this dock who can say they rode it out without the essential help in effort or equipment of the Singlar crew and/or other boats.

In particular, I want to mention Steve of Ocean Blue and his wife Joanna. Steve's been a friend, a codependent afternoon beer drinker, and a gadfly at times as he rags me about the van, Cal Berkeley, catamarans, hell... anything. But last night he was simply amazing. He saved our boats. He saved other people's boats with his work. His wife Joanna concentrated on taking care of all the children. Between the two of them, I was able to be half parent, half sailor. I could split my time between the girls and the docks.

Don Quixote herself rode the storm out well. All our preparations before leaving the boat paid off. When we arrived Tuesday morning, we had a boat fully prepared for hurricane winds. All we had to do was provision and set out the long lines. This was critical because there just wasn't time to do anything else. Believe it or not, we sustained no discernible damage other than this inexplicably silent SSB. Because we were bow to the storm, we didn't even destroy our fenders and surprisingly there was no chafe to speak of on any of our lines. We did get very very wet. I've discovered leaks in the hatches and holes in the boat we didn't know existed. But with a few days of concerted effort, we should be back to normal.

The girls spent most of the storm in the cool room. However, the three story building was like being in an alfalfa sprouter, water pouring in through the top and then progressively down each later. At about 10:30PM,the ceiling on the bottom floor where we had the kids resting collapsed precipitating a move to the ladies bathroom. The bathrooms were reinforced with title due to moisture and sustained no storm damage. The kids were hot but they were safe.

Dulci did not like the hurricane. She particularly hated the cool room where seats and tables made small islands in a one inch sloshing lake of flood water. She liked the bathroom much better but was happy when I moved her with me to the boat at 1 AM after the storm passed.

We're now in recovery mode. We woke this morning to mud, rocks, and debris absolutely everywhere. The harbor is closed for at least a week while they dredge out the debris and the storm dross outside the harbor dissipates. We have food, water, and power for at least two weeks after which we'll probably head north to Bahia de Los Angeles.

Tomorrow, I'll start putting the boat back together. Our suitcases remain unpacked, there are dishes and wet towels everywhere, and -- probably most critically -- we have no shade covers or dodger up. Once these clouds leave us, Don Quixote is going to be an oven unless we get to work.

1 comment:

seaparents said...

Sounds like a crazy experience. I am glad to hear that everything turned out OK, for the most part. Puerto Vallarta was very quiet when the hurricane passed us, thankfully. I commend you on your bravery, I am not sure that I would have remand so strong. I am impressed:) Hopefully you can just relax once you get to Bahia de Los Angeles, I assume you will need it after putting everything back together. Good luck, Brady