Tropical storms, babies born, and engines running

Yesterday was September 13th, 2016. Seemed like a fairly innocuous day at dawn, but boy can things change.
 
It started off with a text from our son-in-law that he and Jennifer were at the hospital and the baby was coming.  By breakfast time we were grandparents to a lovely, healthy little girl. Her name is Annabelle Émilie Jodouin and she must be planning on being a mathematician having weighed in at Pi kilograms (3.14159265359 Kg). Both her and mommy are doing well and resting comfortably. She has a very good appetite I hear and has been nursing well.  We are anxiously looking forward to visiting with them next week.  Then during the winter they will be coming down to do some sailing with us for a week or two.
 
During the morning we got out port engine work completed, and after a long process of bleeding the fuel system, got it fired up and running. She is purring like a brand new motor again. This is a great relief and has been a huge learning process. During the re-assembly it needed a new gasket for the thermostat housing. The local dealer had none in stock and it was going to take 3 to 4 weeks to get one in, so I made one.  During grade 11 at Northern Secondary School in Toronto I took an Automotive Tech class and one of the things we learned was how to make a gasket. So we went to the local Autozone and bought a ball pien hammer and some gasket material, then came back to the boat and a 1/2 hour later we had a perfect, new, handmade gasket. Having never done one outside a classroom 35 years ago, I am very proud that it worked so well.
 
Every morning we check the weather. Tropical depressions are rated with a percentage chance that they will turn into a tropical storm.  During hurricane season (June 1 to October 31) you can see this on our blog as there is a hurricane weather map that shows all weather systems in the Atlantic & Caribbean.  The disturbance that had come through the Bahamas at 20%, then dropped to 10% as it traveled up the Florida east coat, suddenly jumped to 70% as it reached St. Augustine area, and an hour later we were being battered with a full on Tropical Storm. Tropical Storm Julia formed right on top of us, battering us with wind gusts hit to 48 knots.  Yes, we've been through worse, but it is still one heck of a storm.  Sail Quest was still in storm prep mode however from Hurricane Hermine that ripped through 10 days ago, with only Kyle's kayak not being lashed down, and a few loose items around in the cockpit.  After several hours of torrential rain and howling winds, things calmed down. Julia was a fast moving system so this morning it is already mid-way through Georgia, with nobody having any idea where she will go next. About the only safe place on the maps is directly behind her, where we are sitting.
 
As we speak another huge storm is gathering off Africa's coast with it having a 70% chance of turning into a tropical storm in the next 2 days.  If it continues building and travels across the Atlantic this could be the worst storm of the season so far.  Only time will tell.

The Terrible Twos - Twin Tornadoes HERE!!

About an hour after posting the previous article, all the weather alarms started blaring, cell phones started beeping, and the weather radio started broadcasting tornado warnings.  Two fast rotating super-cells were showing on weather radar and the local radio stations interrupted their programming to track the storms live.  The two cells chased each other through Green Cove Springs, across the St. Johns River into Switzerland, and down onto the Shands Bridge.  This isn't places I've heard of... this is HERE!!

We watched as the two storms passed out of Green Cove Springs and passed right on the other side of the river.  That was a sight to see.

We can expect more of this through out the day, although once again the sun is shining away.

We Survived Florida's First Hurricane in 11 Years

Hermoine came ashore last night at 1:30am as a Category 1 Hurricane. The wind howled all night up to 50 knots, but we moved very little. We had tied the boat securely about 1 metre off the floating docks and while we could feel tugging and a little bouncing, we never hit the dock, nor did we rock very much. Due to the noise, and yes, some worrying, there was someone up every few hours during the night to check on things. For the most part though, once asleep we slept through it all.

Sail Quest has weathered the storm without any damage what-so-ever. Most of the other boats also got through unscathed, though not everyone. There was one boat in particular who suffered a fair amount of damage... more than all the other boats combined!  They have a damaged main sail, a totally shredded jib, and the roller furling has broken.  I am certain that the roller furling and jib failures are related. I am not sure which came first, but the first failure most definitely lead to the second failure.  That is the boat whose owner spent most of yesterday in the lounge watching TV while every other owner was out securing their boats. Just goes to show what happens when you do not prepare your boat.

The sun is currently out and shining brightly. There is still a fair amount of wind... about 10-15 knots, gusting to 25, but it appears the worst has passed. Scattered rain showers are passing through, and will continue to do so for the rest of the day.

Waiting For The Storm

We are back at Reynolds Park, having left on Monday only to return Tuesday. Our scheduled departure was Monday morning at 11am heading to Jacksonville on Monday, Sister's Creek Tuesday, and St. Augustine on Wednesday where we would sit out the storm. The day started well and we untied 15 minutes early and headed out.  Unfortunately, about 1/2 hour before arriving in Jacksonville we had a problem develop with the port engine.  Once docked in Jacksonville we attempted (unsuccessfully) to problem solve the issue.  So we sat back and planned our next move. With the weather scheduled to turn bad on Thursday we decided to retreat back to Reynolds Park and secure the boat for the approaching storm.
 
It is now Thursday and it's been a quiet day with very little wind, and no waves at all. The so called, calm before the storm.  Hurricane Hermoine is about to make landfall to the west of us in a few hours, and pass north west of us... hopefully.  We are expecting tropical storm conditions where we are, beginning around 2 AM tonight, peaking before noon tomorrow. Winds about 30 knots, gusting to 50 knots are expected, with about 1/2 a foot of rain.
 
Some people are saying that Hermoine is small, and we don't have to worry about her. But I know that even small can pack a real wallop. Hermoine, even when seeming sweet and innocent, could turn dangerous at a moment's notice. I know this... I read all the Harry Potter's!
 
We will post tomorrow during the storm to keep people apprised of the situation.