Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Goodbye September

We are glad to see October arrive. The weather gurus are saying the tropical Atlantic is quiet and the end of hurricane season is in sight. Almost. Of course I am still spot checking four different weather and satellite websites several times a day, but have tapered off from my peak of several times an hour. September '08 was definitely a month to remember.

The sun rises and sets further to the south now, and our morning views have it coming up out of the ocean again.

Life here is not back to what it was, and it never will be. These storms changed things. Everyone we talk to seems to have lost something. But life goes on. The plywood is being taken cautiously down from the store windows. But it's being kept close at hand.

And people are getting back into routines. The Red Cross is still very active, and our friends M&M have been volunteering their time transhipping supplies that arrive in Provo. They divide them up and get them on their way by boat and airplane to the people on Grand Turk and South Caicos.

M&M's own house is back to mostly normal, with some changes. For a while in the wee hours of that Sunday night when Hanna turned on us, a lot of us were worried about them. I enlarged this from a photo La Gringa found on the web. This is M&M's house Sunday afternoon late, just after we decided that we could not make it to them in the Land Rover.

The dark stripe across the water leading from the bushes on the right is the near edge of the salina, usually. The water between that line and their wall is the only road in and out of here, normally. And the sea stayed about 75 yards or so behind their house. Until Hanna. During the worst of the storm that night, the water rose to within six inches from the top of their wraparound porch. They had waves breaking onto it. The two cars in their yard were submerged to the windshields. And it was dark, and loud. Some would say downright scary. I know we were worried about them. Thank goodness for cell phones. The only things that still worked that night. Well, cell phones and prayer, apparently.

We were very lucky. The boat hurt, of course, but the house made it through mostly intact. Oh, we are still finding our own little 'storm victims' here and there.

Funny, those three wires were not twisted together at all when that light was installed. Looks like we have some more wall scar damage to patch. If anyone is interested, the Flectec coating held up beautifully. None of it peeled off the concrete through all of that. I can recommend this stuff without reservations so far.

It's bonded.

Looking out at the marina yesterday we noticed two of Sail Provo's day charter catamarans up on the shore for repairs. We were surprised to see that dismasted boat on the right, because it is the "Phoenix".

Four days after Hurricane Hanna, we were at Leeward Marina salvaging our boat "Cay Lime". We found out that "Phoenix" had completely blown away during the storm. Nobody knew where she was, and the owner of Sail Provo (Jay Stubbs) and friends had been out looking for her. I know there is a story associated with this, and I will try to find out where they finally found her. We drove over to take a look, as Jay is a friend of ours and we were very sad to hear that "Phoenix" was missing. We feared the worst.

Everything from the bridge deck up is gone.

It looks like they got the boom back, but the mast, sails, rigging, railings, helm...all ripped away by the storm. The paint is blasted off the hull right down to the fiberglass in most places. I wonder if she was blown ashore on a sandy beach, to do that. And I wonder whether Hurricane Ike moved her again before someone located her. That boat has some tales to tell.

All of the hatches are smashed.

I did not see any gaping holes in the hulls, but it will be a long time before this boat is once again taking visitors on sunset cruises through the islands. Sail Provo's other catamaran, "Arielle", is also out of the water next to "Phoenix". She does not look to be badly damaged, and should be back in operation much sooner. Hopefully in time for this season.

Jay also owns a trimaran, named "Savannah", and we noticed that he was on board today checking out the sails at the marina;

So he is in good shape to offer daysailing trips as the busy season begins, even before he gets "Arielle" back in the water.

I found an aerial photo of "Arielle" we took with our balloon setup a couple seasons ago. I know I have posted some of these before, but thought I would leave a better visual image of what she will look like again shortly:

And now, by way of incredibly stark contrast, this photo was taken Saturday:

Wow, that's a slap in the old visual kisser. No, that's not downtown Provo. La Gringa and I spent a long weekend on Manhattan Island. This is a totally different breed of island. I know it's hard to believe, but there were people and cars everywhere. I never saw the beach.

We wouldn't normally swap this island life for Manhattan Island life, but La Gringa's father got married to a wonderful lady on Saturday, and by gosh we were not gonna miss that. We got a whole new set of cool inlaws in the deal, as well.

We also stayed in an offbeat kind of hotel. They have a really interesting decor, with such things as a huge example of Damian Hirst's work with butterfly wings..

Lighting in the pool room by swordfish bills, with an Andy Warhol on the far wall..

We met some interesting people other than our new in-laws, among the people of NYC. And by Sunday the weather had improved enormously..

with only the tallest buildings obscured.

As interesting as the city was, we were quite happy to get back to this teeming island metropolis of twenty thousand people. I think I saw more taxi drivers and policemen than that in New York.

So back in the TCI, we are happy to see that most of our landscaping is crawling it's way back from what we now know were 150 mph winds during Hurricane Ike. That booger pretty much blasted all of the smaller branches off the plants. This was after it completed stripping the few remaining leaves that Hanna had left the week before. We did not have a lot of hope for the plants those first few days. But after a couple weeks of mild weather and water, the mahogany trees are growing new leaves and branches. They are right next to the trunk, this time. Good move. I think these guys are survivors.

The palms are putting out new leaves through what's left of the old ones. Those are like shredded paper, with frayed ends. We hope they adapt to the harsh conditions of their new home as well as the buttonwoods are. Those greenhouses in Florida have got to be distant memories by now. Like previous lives tend to be. It's all a part of our new normal.

The buttonwoods are all looking healthy again. They are much stouter plants now than they were just three weeks ago. The storms trimmed all the longer branches off. A little brutally, I thought. They used to be taller, and their leafy branches waved in the breeze. They waved 'bye-bye' in that last one, in fact. After she determined which of the remaining branches were headed for that great compost heap in the sky, La Gringa went from plant to plant snipping off and trimming the surviving branches. Over a hundred plants. Now they are tough little ruffians. With battle scars and healing limbs. What survived are the plant world's version of battle hardened veterans.

The fountain grass came back faster than anything else. It has grown since the storms, and shows no signs of damage. It has even re-seeded.

Well after I snapped that photo I decided to go around to the other side of the house because the light was better...

And I thought that would be a better photo. Then I noticed that the light was better because the sun was setting. So I took some photos of that as well. I like to put a sunset photo at the end of each post when I can. It's a good self-explanatory ending when I run out of words.

Just like this time:


Anonymous said...

Dang! You make it through Hannah and Ike, and Kyle follows you to NYC. That's gotta be some kind of record.

Another great post with some beautiful pics.


Anonymous said...

The situation that M&M were in looks terrifying! It's probably a good thing that it was dark. If I had seen what was happening, well...I have no idea what.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Love your blog. What is the name of that cool looking hotel in NYC?

Anonymous said...

Glad you like the blog.

That cool hotel is the Gramercy Park Hotel. It's at 2 Lexington Avenue.

Anonymous said...

Gringos- Thanks for the new post...glad to hear that there is some hope of seeing the end of the hurricane season soon.

I know this is generally a blog on your life in the Islands but just wondering what your take-aways from NYC were...any areas that you thought were cool, or not? We're thinking about going next summer with our kids, just thought I'd ask.

Cheers- sherb