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Landfall-Learning > Ship's Log

Ship's Log: Updated August 27, 2007

More Isla Mujeres Adventures: Hurricane Dean!

Well, Hurricane Dean sure had us hoppin' around last week! While Category 5 Dean slammed into the Yucatan Peninsula south of us as the third-strongest hurricane ever to hit land since statistics began in the 1850's, Dean hit us as a strong Tropical Storm during the darkest hours of the night. So, this is not nearly as exciting as our Hurricane Katrina story! Still, rain fell by the bucketsful and the wind rocked us on our beam ends, but by the next morning, with the wind still howling from the tail end of the storm, the sun was shining and Landfall and crew were fine. However, this happy ending was never guaranteed!

As soon as Dean got close to the Lesser Antilles in the Eastern Caribbean, all the computer models had the hurricane tracking directly toward the northern tip of the Yucatan Peninsula--and us! With early predictions that it would evolve into a Category 4-5 hurricane, we had to prepare.

First, we had to make immediate arrangements to occupy our hurricane hole slip two weeks earlier than our September 1st reservation. Fortunately, we were still early enough, and the marina lady remembered that we had said that if a hurricane came sooner than September, we would want a slip. She had us on her list, but we had to move quickly, as boats were streaming in from all over the region in anticipation of a Category 5 hit.

If our boat wasn't physically in its slip, it was almost guaranteed that someone else would occupy it --and good luck trying to get them to move once they were tied up! So at noon, an hour after talking to the marina, we were underway for the short run from Marina Paraiso to Puerto Isla Mujeres at Villa Vera.

It's a lovely resort (but note the windows already boarded up at the top of the tower)

with a huge, beautiful swimming pool (notice that the lounge chairs have already been sunk in the pool, so they won't blow away)

and an artistic wading pool

and swim-up bar (note the lack of customers!)

Lovely water landscaping, too!

The restrooms near our slip were also being prepared for the storm.

And it's a good thing that we moved quickly: all the slips were full by mid-afternoon!

Next day began the really fun part: stripping Landfall of all her sails, awnings, and canvas to reduce windage, and adding on as many lines and fenders as we had on hand. (Note who is doing all the really hard work!)

We also had to do some serious provisioning. If we received a direct hit from a Category 5 storm, there was no predicting when food, water and electricity would be available on the island again. Not to mention beer and rum and ice...

Sharon dinghied into town with our friend and marina neighbor Christopher (on Stingray, a 30' catamaran)

to buy provisions, while Tracy continued preparing Landfall for the blow. The grocery store was a semi-organized chaos of people trying to stock up, and staples were going fast. We filled our shopping cart, and then had the bag boy push the cart the five blocks to the dinghy dock for the return trip. Normally we would just fill our backpacks and carry everything back to the dock, but we bought a lot more than normal!

Tying Landfall up and stripping her of all her sails, canvas, awnings, and anything that could be blown away took a full two days. By the time we (ok, mostly Tracy) were done

and everyone else on the dock was done


the dock was a spagetti-maze of lines!

When we were finished using the dinghy to get provisions and to secure our lines and our neighbors' lines to pilings, it went up on the grass with some of the other dinks. During Hurricane Katrina, our dinghy was literally flying through the air beside Landfall; this time, we tried to avoid that! And so tied it to the trees.

Once we got everything off the decks, it had to go somewhere: where else, but down below? As you can see, Gellie was pretty nonchalant about the whole process!

One of the wonderful things about hurricane preparation is the camaraderie that develops. When we pulled into our slip, we met our new neighbors on ViVaMar I, Nikolai, his girlfriend Laura and his captain Enrique; by nightfall, we were the best of friends!

As Dean's approach came closer, we all exchanged contact information and pulled out our life vests, harnesses, and portable VHF radios.

And then not a whole lot happened! And that was just fine!

More on Isla living...stay tuned...

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