I mentioned in an earlier post that we had weathered a small hurricane. Although the eye of the storm was just 50 miles northwest of us, we tucked ourselves so close to land that we only saw gusts of 15 mph winds. Most of the time it was perfectly still. Now that we have made our way west a little and we are encountering other sailboats we have learned that we were lucky compared to many. In Portobella, which is only about 30 miles from where we are now, and about 50 miles from where we sat out the hurricane, 19 boats were lost. We don't know if they are full losses, we know they broke away from their moorings and were blown up against the city breakwater, but we've had conflicting reports on how many sank or were total losses. It is very sad, especially since Panama is supposed to be out of the hurricane zone. I don't think it did much damage elsewhere, but this localized area was hit really hard. It was a small hurricane, but it packed a punch if you were in the wrong place.
If you wonder how we get weather out here, away from wifi, we have several sources. Through our High Frequency radio we can download (through radio waves) grib files that give us weather where ever we are. It is much easier than is used to be when we just had a map of isobars to interpret. Now, we have the map with little arrows on it for wind direction and strength. It is pretty easy to interpret! When we are passage making we check the weather twice daily. Before Otto went through I was looking at the weather charts (one of my jobs), but not every day, and only zoomed in to our local area. At one point I checked and the prediction was for strong non prevailing direction winds. I kept zooming out more and more and pulling in more weather. Eventually I mentioned to Michael that the low pressure system above us looked awfully cyclonic. Duh! At that point, Otto wasn't predicted to be a hurricane, but we started turning on the HF radio and listening to the weather predictions more regularly. In addition to using our HF radio as a modem to check email and get weather, there are many frequencies we can tune into to get news or listen to weather, real time from an actual human. In addition there are several radio nets, on at specific times, where boaters check in and chat about all things boating, which can usually be summed up with weather and security issues. In addition, if we ever were in trouble, there are several frequencies monitored both by the US coast guard, but also amateur radio controllers, that are there just to help boaters in distress. Anyway,unbeknownst to us, while we were poking around the eastern San Blas, everyone was chatting about this out of season low in a "hurricane free zone". There are some really bright weather gurus out there that forecast their predictions and its nice to listen in and hear real people talking. One particular router, Chris Parker, is well known in the Caribbean and everyone listens to his predictions. The other option we have, although we've only used it once, is to pay for professional help in determining weather and helping with routing. Mike's bible is Jimmy Cornell's "Cruising Routes and Weather", so usually I fee comfortable with his "expertise". I'll never admit it to him, but Mike is really pretty knowledgeable about all things sailing! We used Commander Weather to help us predict a departure day when we crossed the North Atlantic and although they suggested the same window of time we would have predicted, it was comforting to get a second opinion. We also could have asked for their help, any time mid crossing, if some weather looked dicey. It was a nice option to have in the middle of an ocean.
Anyway, we are obviously fine and we are thoroughly enjoying our slower than normal speed through the beautiful San Blas Islands.
The following pages chronicle the journey of the sailing vessel Pelagic and her crew. We are a family of 5; Michael, Amy, Zander, Porter and Anakena, taking our 42' Hallberg Rassy as far as we can comfortably go in three years. We left Oregon in September 2014, participated in the 2014 Baja Haha, continued on through the Panama Canal, into the Caribbean, up the coast of the US to Maritime Canada and from there crossed the Atlantic. After an arrival in Ireland we toured Scotland, then sailed down to France, Portugal and on to Morocco. In January of 2016 we slowed down considerably and enrolled the kids in a local Spanish school in Sanlucar de Guadiana for a few months. In the spring of 2016 we crossed the Atlantic towards the Caribbean. We are now in the Pacific, officially on our way home, albeit via a very circuitous path. We are currently in French Polynesia and looking at weather windows to Hawaii before finally making landfall back in the Pacific Northwest.
Currently our exact location is not available. Our spot coverage will pick us back up in Hawaii towards the end of May, 2017.
Our favorite sailing quote:
"If anythings gonna happen, it's gonna happen out there boss!" Captain Ron