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The Hurricane Chronicles:

The Wimps of 2006

Hurricane Chris & Hurricane Ernesto

Hurricane Chronicles Index



"Ring-a-Ding-a-Ding...

Ain't no ting but a chicken wing..."



Part I: Hurricane Chris

If you read the Hurricane Chronicles for last year, and read about Wicked Wilma and our venture to Little Shark River with, well... a real-life wimp...  then you'll be quite familiar with why I knew Hurricane Chris would wimp out and be a non-issue.  Thus, no need to write about Chris here... we didn't do any thing to prepare -- as we knew well ahead of time Chris would blow himself out.  Like I say, "Ain't no ting but a chicken wing!"



Part II: Hurricane Ernesto

 

Huh?  What Tropical Storm?  What?  Me worry??  Hell yes!

Just one day later, suddenly looks like the Yucatan might eke out with a serious curve by Ernesto up to the Panhandle.  Could this be accurate??!!  Yikes!

What is this, the year of the wimps?   Don't get me wrong, that would be perfectly okay with moi.  We decided to keep an eye on Ernesto and if any doubt remained as it approached the Keys, we'd head for the Little Shark River, about 60 miles north of the Keys in the southwesternmost section of the Everglades.  If Ernesto didn't threaten us as it passed, we'd still be nestled in our hurricane hole and benefit from the exercise of implementing our hurricane evacuation plan.

Though Ernesto turned out to be nothing more than a 45-50 knot wind for a short period of time, as he went right over us AGAIN at Little Shark.  LOL  But up there, we're ready for it.  What the emails below show is that life goes on... and it doesn't stop because it's hurricane season!  Ha!  You just do what you have to do and get on with it... and doing things right the FIRST time is the key to total success!  When you are the one who has put out the lines and take the precautions, you either are in total trust of your work or you need to jump ship 'cause you were slackin'.  Your life won't allow too many times of you being lax... you may get lucky once, or ever twice... but the bottom line, in this lifestyle, is that your life is in your own hands.  Even so, as I said before, even as we sat up at Little Shark watching alligator eyes at night and entertaining ourselves with the sport of drowning noseeums... the land life with all its drama, and those we love who live upon it... goes on nonetheless.



From: Charmaine

Date: 08/20/06 16:03:18
To: Tiempo
Subject: Loved it
 
 
Okay, it's like this: I'M NOT READY FOR YOU TO BE GONE TO CENTRAL AMERICA!!! 
 
Dayam, I sound like Breighan.  Ha.  Shit.
 
I'm happy you have sold Tiempo... however, are the "2 high powered execs" in DC gay? 
 
Serious Business.
 
'Cause they gotta be if they're gonna share Tiempo.  Ain't no partner gonna give up their rights to the ensuite bedroom.  Nope.  Ain't gonna be.  So... they MUST be gay and are sharing it.  Hey.... they be gay in DC too... 
 
I am sooo loving YOU, my Peek-a-Boo.  Dayam.  It just means that we got to get to Belize a bit quicker to be over there with you both.  We are planning a Spring crossing over to the Bahamas and then meander all through them, spending lots of time in the places you both love so much... THEN we'll cross the pond to Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic... make our way to the Virgins... and spend some time in St. Croix visiting Bj's "family" there.  Whoa.  That's dangerous... might be another grandchild running around looking just like me and Bj. Oh, how I love danger and grandbabies!!
 
Did you get the email I sent about our grandson, William Dean Ladd III wanting to be called Bj.  He's such a tender love.  How many 8-year-olds would even think of such a thing.  So we call him "Little Bj" now.  He loves it.  As he said, "Grandma.  See, I'm William Dean Ladd III, but my dad is William Dean Ladd II... and you call him Bj for "Bill junior.  So that makes ME "Bill junior junior.  But you don't have to say the second junior... like Bjj... so just call me Bj."
 
I tell you, no one knows what this means to call my son Bj... and I look at little Bj and I see my son and my Bill
and myself... and, of course, Breighan.
 
Life is good, Peek-a-Boo and oh, how very, very much I LOVE YOU.
 
I promise we will visit you wherever you are...
 
'cause:
 
"Ain't no mountain high enough, ain't no river wide enough, ain't no valley low enough... to keep me from YOU."
 
All my Love,
 
Your Charmie (kiss Edwin for me, will ya) & Bill
 
Oh yes... I sent you that midwife story about a year ago... hahahaha.  Thanks for sharing it with me again.  As
the first time... I loved it too!
 
Hugs and Kisses

From: Charmaine
Date: 08/26/06 17:35:01
To: Livaboard List
Subject: Re: [livaboard] TD Ernesto
 
'bella, , www.wunderground.com is fabulous for tracking weather...  especially the severe kind. Make sure you have
three w's, many people forget and can't find it.
 
Hope all is well with you and yours...
 
Charmaine Out Sailing Before Ernesto Ruins the Mood

From: Charmaine
Date: 08/26/06 20:05:13
To: Livaboard List
Subject: Re: [livaboard] TD Ernesto
 
Yup, I forgot you were a Jeff Masters' groupie.  He is good at what he does.  Let's hope this sucker veers away from the Keys... even if it does reach here, shouldn't have too much strength.  Here we go...
 
Charmaine Aboard s/v September Sea
"Life's a Gift... Unwrap It!" - C~
www.SeptemberSea.com

From: Charmaine
Date: 08/26/06 20:22:18
To: Vernon aboard s/v chiqui
Subject: We're Nearby
 
 
Hey there Vernon!
 
Bill went into the Harbor yesterday and said you were back.  I asked how he knew.  He said he saw your dinghy.  Good thing he saw ya leave or I'd a thought you had taken the Smorgasboat.  Chiqui behaved herself and I'm sure was ready to have you back aboard.
 
We've been out and about in the Keys, just enjoying the fabulous weather and the beautiful waters.  We were going to Southeast Point early this afternoon and then decided we'd better come back nearer the Harbor just in case Ernesto had plans to blow our way.  We so love Southeast Point, the water is crystal clear there as it's a rock and sand bottom.  Great snorkeling too.
 
Hope all is well with you and yours.  We should be back around noon or 2 pm.  See ya then!
 
Charmaine & Bill

From: Charmaine
Date: 08/26/06 20:30:24
To: becca keffer
Subject: Re: FAMILY REUNION
 
 
Awww, sweet 'becca.  Thanks for the note.  You know how much we love you and Diana.  I tell you, God does things His way... and we couldn't be happier to have you both so very dear in our hearts.
 
I'm sure you are very busy with school, a mother's job is NEVER done... LOL.  You hang in there because you're a stubborn young lady who knows what she wants... and you know what... I'm PROUD of that about you!  Diana got that stubborn streak from both sides!
 
You tell our granddaughter Diana we love her and miss her so very, very much.  Cannot wait to see you both.
It's the end of August and October will be here before ya know it.
 
Hugs and Kisses and Love to Everyone...
especially Mike and his boys...
and your family
 
Charmaine & Bill

From: Charmaine
Date: 08/26/06 20:32:56
To: Borst Linda
Subject: Re: FW: Fwd:Take a look at this...What an awesome job this guy did
 
 
Hey Darling Linda,
 
How is ya, Honey?  Always sooo good to hear from you.  We're out and about doing some sailing and snorkeling in the Keys and the weather is just fabulous.  Tropical Storm Ernesto is trying to put a damper on our good times though.  Hopefully, he'll run his head right into the Yucatan and leave us alone.
 
Love to Bob and Kendall.  We miss you guys sooo much.  Our family is having a reunion in October, of course you and yours are always invited to our family gatherings.
 
Can't wait to see Bob try those shittlins.
 
Ha.
 
Hugs and Kisses
 
Charmaine & Bill

From: Charmaine
Date: 08/26/06 20:39:16
To: Melissa
Subject: Hey Liss
 
 
 
Hey Sweet 'Liss,
 
Have you been getting my emails?  I sent you one about our family reunion coming up in October... and the one about all the stuff I'm selling from the storage in Scottsdale.
 
I was surprised I didn't hear back from you... thought you would want something to keep... but then again, you already have a bunch of furniture items that are probably already taking up way too much room in your house.  Just kidding!
 
I love you and miss you.  How's my Little Bj? I tell you, I think of you all every single day, and that's actually an understatement.  It's much, much more than that.
 
Let me know you got this.  I'll give you a call in a day or so, we're preparing for Tropical Storm Ernesto... who MAY come by the Keys, but let's hope he changes his mind, wants some Tequila, and goes right over to the Yucatan to get it.
 
I love YOU.  Bill sends love.
 
Hugs and Kisses to my Boo and Barry
And don't forget Kayla.
 
Mainie & Bill
 

From: Charmaine

Date: 08/27/06 12:41:16
To: D.V. Hartley
Subject: Re: Anchor Snubber
 
 
 
Hey David,
 
So glad to be of some help to you.  You're right, many people don't know a thing about anchor snubbers.  The reason, I believe, is that most do not use an all chain rode.  There's nothing at all a problem with using all chain as long as you add the snubber.  Let's face it, David, most people are LAZY.  LOL
 
The snubber will be worth putting on... as a matter of fact, I'm going to add one to our boat for when we're up in Little Shark for hurricane protection.  It's so much better to have an all chain rode when you're facing hurricanes.  As I type, I'm rushing out of the outside of Boot Key Harbor and heading up to the Little Shark River.  Hurricane Ernesto is kicking up his heels.  Should only be a Category 1 or maybe 2 when it reaches the Keys, but being in the Harbor with lots of boats unattended is just not my cup of tea.  Time to head for the Little Shark to protect our vessel.  It's beautiful up there and we just love it.  We also know that Wilma, a Category 3, passed right over us there and it really wasn't bad at all.  The mangroves really add
protection, and the narrow canals don't allow you to move much.  I'll let ya know how it goes.
 
So, in closing, thanks for bringing this item up... it's truly something I know I'll need at one time or another.  It was good to refresh mymemory on how they work and how valuable they can be.
 
All the Best my Friend,
 
Charmaine
 
From: Charmaine
Date: 08/26/06 20:03:10
To: David
Subject: Anchor Snubber
 
 
Hey David,
 
FINALLY I get what you're talking about... had to ask my husband (shhh, I'll never admit it to another soul). LOL
You could use a shackle for your chain on a cleat (one that has a hole in it)... but what you really need is an "anchor snubber."
The snubber allows you to go ahead and leave your chain on the windlass, without it carrying the load.
 
Here ya go, found it at www.BosunSupplies.com
 
ANCHOR SNUBBER:
 
An anchor snubber is a bridle used to take the strain of the chain rode.
This reduces wear on your boat from the chain and also acts as a shock
absorber and silences the chain.  Using 3-strand nylon line (drop a note or
call us for prices), splice 2 eye loops to go around your port and starboard
bow cleats (see our Deck Hardware section for some great ones!).  Splice
these two lines together a distance about equal to the height of the bow
above the water.  The diameter of the line depends on the size of your boat.
  The following is a guide for the 3-strand nylon rope size:
 
    Boat Size       Rope Size
     Under 26              1/2
      26 32              9/16
      32 40              5/8
 
When in doubt, always size-up for the line.
 
 
Next, splice a stainless steel thimble to the end (we carry standard, heavy
duty, and extra heavy duty).  The total length should be 2 to 3 times the
height of the bow above the water.
Finally, use a stainless steel shackle (we have a wide select for you) to
attach a stainless steel grab hook to the end.  Size the grab hook to your
chain size... or call us to have one made for you!
  
Bosun Supplies Inc.
PO Box 86, Arnold, MD 21012
Phone: 888-433-3484 Fax: 410-431-7008
info@bosunsupplies.com

From: Charmaine

Date: 08/27/06 15:23:32
Subject: Hurricane Ernesto
 
 
Hey my Peoples!
 
The latest report on Hurricane Ernesto has prompted us to err on the side of caution and go directly to our hurricane hole in the Little Shark River.  We're sailing there now as I write this.  I'm sure we're being extra safe this way.  We're
in a mooring field in Boot Key Harbor and no longer in a marina, so there's much more danger for our vessel in the Harbor, as it would be among many other vessels that aren't tended to and thus not prepared for the big blow.  Having another boat break free of its anchor or mooring and hit your vessel is not a good thing.  By going to Little Shark, where there are no manmade objects and no other boats to cause harm to our sweet September Sea.
 
The path projections changed this morning, thus Errnesto, instead of being on track to hit the Yucatan Peninsula and then heading for the Gulf and on track to collide with New Orleans... it now is projected to come right through the Keys and on up the west coast of Florida, possibly hitting the mainland around the Ft. Myers and Tampa areas, or going on up to the Panhandle.
 
What we do know is that the likelihood of Ernesto hitting the Keys is pretty iffy but a distinct possibility.  It takes us time to get up to the Little Shark River, located in the Everglades, on mainland Florida; so we have to decide quickly and then act on the decision with like speed. 
 
To know more about how we get there and what we do once we're there... and how SAFE we are there, go to our website and select "Hurricane Chronicles" from the menu.  It's a run down of all the times we've encountered hurricanes and how we got through them safely, and often hilariously.
 
We had already been out cruising the past few days and have had a fabulous time snorkeling and swimming and just lounging to the maximum.  We're rested up and the boat is all ready, we have excellent provisions and we're only ten gallons down of our 85 gallon fresh water supply.  Perfect!  We have a full load of diesel and gasoline for the generator... so those mosquitoes up at Little Shark are gonna see this "Black Meat" in high style.  LOL  The generator means that we can run our central air when we feel the need.  We've been out on a mooring in Boot Key Harbor since June... and I'm very proud to say we haven't run the air... no need for there's always a breeze inside, and when there isn't we head outside of the Harbor to find those breezes!
 
So all is well and we're snug as bugs and enjoying the sail up north.  We have a satellite phone and will keep in close touch with our daughter Breighan.  Our cell phones and broadband internet will be out of range in about an hour (4 pm Eastern) so we'll be out of touch via email.  Please email Breighan for info on our safety if you're so inclined:.  It would be good to email her anyway, then when I want to report I can do it through her and she'll already have your email address (E-ddress).  Just put "September Sea Info" as your Subject line and she'll know... or drop her a line, she loves to chat a bit... just like her Momma.  LOL
 
We love each and every one of you and don't worry about us, we're off on another adventure and we're LOVING IT!!  And ooooh, how we LOVE YOU!!
 
Hugs and Kisses,
 
Charmaine & Bill
Aboard s/v September Sea
"Life's a Gift... Unwrap It!" - C~
www.SeptemberSea.com
 

From: Charmaine

Date: 08/27/06 16:03:17
To: jason@auction
Cc: Brother Bobby; Ennie
Subject: INFO for Contacts
 
Hey Jason,
 
I'm typing FAST... almost out of cell range.. we're on our way to the Little Shark River in the Everglades... it's where our hurricane hole is.  Hurricane Ernesto poses a threat to the Florida Keys so we're going out of harm's way.
 
This means I won't be in contact except via satellite phone.  However, it shouldn't slow down our progress. 
 
Here are the phone numbers of both my most adorable and loving siblings who are going through so much to get this task accomplished. Cheyenne knows all the contents and the items in the pod and thus will be your contact.  She is quite capable of knowing what I want and can speak for me if necessary.  She is in Arizona to help accomplish the task at hand.
 
Thanks!
 
I truly look forward to working further with you Jason.  You're a peach!
 
Charmaine Smith Ladd
     

Hey Darling Connie {Berens},
 
We're on our way back as I type this, just got back into broadband range so don't have to hurry like on the satellite phone.  Every letter I type when on that thing I hear "Ca-Ching!"  LOL.
 
Did great up there, great to have dry run at what might be another trip up there to get away from something bigger.  So glad we went.  No big skeeter problem at all this time, but we got out of there at first light today because all the rain with that wimp Ernesto will surely hatch a myriad of those bloodsucking devils.
 
We MUST get together and soon.  We're just right in the Harbor.  Our 34th wedding anniversary is September 1st... so this weekend Bill and I are gonna go snorkeling, fishing, just la-la-loving and all that mush.  Ha!
 
I LOVE you, Connie Girl.  You're my sister, sweetheart... how could I possibly NOT love you??
 
Love to that wonderful John and beautiful Jara.
 
Charmaine
     

 


From: Charmaine
Date: 08/31/06 16:24:26
To: Livaboard List
Subject: [Livaboard] Ernesto & September Sea
 
 
Hey my sister 'bella,
 
John is a fabulous person {John Oprandy sv Invictus}... already know him and love him to pieces.  Didn't even cross my mind to think about ya,dang it... and why not... beat's me... but his handle down here, as I began to call him, is "Annapolis John."  I'm Cc'in a copy of this to him as well... he's sure to get a kick out of it.  Hello John... ya readin' us??!!  LOL
 
We're on our way back from the Little Shark... in good time too, all the rain from that wimp Ernesto hatched a ton of 'skeeters.  The noseeums are so big up there we call 'em "Seeums."  You DO see the big black cloud of them coming your way at dusk and dawn.  Only got bit three times by a Seeum.  No 'skeeter bites.  I duct taped the entire cockpit enclosure, every little gap... and it worked!  I also put up three shower curtains, sewn together, and lined the inside ceiling of our bimini.  We stayed dry the entire time and probably emptied 60 gallons of water as it drained off the protective barrier.  I had two buckets where it was easy to work the water to the sides... I tell ya, you go up to Little Shark during a wet tropical storm or hurricane,
and you won't go without lots of fresh water.
 
Life is good. 
 
Hugs
 
Charmaine Aboard s/v September Sea
"Life's a Gift... Unwrap It!" - C~
www.SeptemberSea.com
 

From: Charmaine

Date: 08/31/06 23:45:28
To: Annapolis John
Subject: Re: [Livaboard] Ernesto & September Sea
 
 
Hey Sweets,
 
Yes, I've known 'bella for about three or four years... we're sisters, ya know.  I met her on the Sailnet "Livaboard List."  Made some really good buddies there.  Most have come and seen me at one time or another, including 'bella, whom I didn't get a chance to see one day in Boot Key Harbor because I was down with a bad flu.  She's a keeper... she keeps all the guys scratching their heads and coming to me for translation.  Ha.
 
Yup, gotta love the sailing community.. nothing else quite like it.  And love you too.  Hope all is well with you and family.  Seen your Mom lately?  What a fortunate woman to have a son as loving of his mother as you.  I sure hope she knows.  Mothers need to know... ya know.
 
Now... YOU... where ya been?  Or you gonna ask me that?  LOL
 
We must get together.  I miss ya.
 
Hugs
 
Charmaine

From: Charmaine
Date: 09/01/06 18:37:53
Subject: Back from Little Shark River
 
 
Hello my Peoples,
 
We're back from Little Shark River... lots of stories to tell yaz, just gotta get the time to sit down and get it all punched out. 
 
Ernesto may have been a dud, but our trip up there sure wasn't.  It's gorgeous up there, no kidding.  But we had our little adventures, as usual, albeit not so much of the bloodsucking kind.  Ha!  Can you see me doing the Happy Dance right now??
 
Today marks the 34th anniversary of when Bill and I both said "I Do."  That was our very first adventure back in 1972. 
I tell ya, it just keeps getting better.  How does that happen?
 
In short, I'm still in love with that wonderful man of mine... yup.  Just LOVING IT ALL, even after all these years.  Today we talked about our next 34 years.  Yeah... we can do that.
 
And remember:   I'm LOVING YOU TOO!
 
Check on our website under the "Hurricane Chronicles" for the latest...  I should have it up in about a week.
 
Hugs and Kisses
 
Charmaine
Aboard s/v September Sea
"Life's a Gift... Unwrap It!" - C~
www.SeptemberSea.com
 

Ernesto: The Wimp Who Couldn't Blow

We've been to the Little Shark River so many times in past years, we feel like it's ours.  You come to know a place very well when you frequent it often.  Sounds redundant to me... oh well.

We provisioned and stocked up on water, diesel, gasoline, etc. and left for the Little Shark River (LSR) on Sunday, August 27th.  We arrived seven hours later and anchored two miles outside the mouth of the River.  We were smart enough this time to leave our lights out as we approached where we were going to drop the hook.  We learned the hard way what happens when you arrive at the LSR at night with your running lights on... those little bastids come in swarms, all carrying knives and forks.  In short, they eat you alive!

The difference in our outfitting than in years past, is that we've added a cockpit enclosure.  We have screens and also plastic (Isinglass) so we're pretty much protected from insects and rain.  Nice.  Many people remove all canvas from their boats in the event big wind is coming... up at Little Shark, at least so far... we've never had to remove our canvas.  Of course we take the prudent precautions of tying up our jib sail, mainsail cover, etc.  You don't leave things out that can be blown away or torn if the wind gets beneath it.  Our cockpit enclosure is very aerodynamic and the wind simply slides right by it...  fabulous!

I will admit breathing a sigh of relief as Bill dropped the anchor.  We recently purchased a Spade anchor, a 44#er and we just love it!  Neither of us have slept so well at night while anchored... we have tested the Spade every which way from Sunday... and it doesn't fail.  It's an incredible addition to our ground tackle.  Remind me to take those Danforths of mine and write "Lunch Hooks Only" on 'em.  They're not very good for holding around here.  Could be ours were just too small (20 and 22#)... I just can't feel good about an anchor that releases every time there's a wind shift... and then gotta rely on it to take hold again... or ya drag!!

Anywho... so we had an uneventful night two miles outside the mouth of the River.  Great.  Got up early the next morning to go in.  Bill had written on our chart that we needed a minimum of +2.3 feet to get in.  I told him we haven't been here since Wilma, and when we left at that time, if it weren't for those dolphin we'd a never gotten out of there.  All the markers were gone... tree stumps in the middle of the channel... terrible.  But with the assistance of two lovely dolphin, they led us out... still gives me chills to think about it. 

"Honey, +2.3 is just fine for us to get in."

Uh huh.

Oh yeah, I remember this... he never knows what he's talking about!  Why squeeze in when we can wait for tide and have more water beneath us??  Like DUHHHH.

Mister Man insisted.

Okie Dokie, Smokey.

So we go in... it's short, I mean really shallow.  We draw 5'8 'cause we're fully loaded... and I can feel the shit beneath me... poor September Sea has some strange fingers scratching at her belly.  Dayam.  .05  Oh hell no, Bill... this is not good.

We hit something.  LOL  Yup.  It was a soft hit, kinda like Mike Tyson with Robin Givens... 'cause even though she said he beat her up... you and I know that with Iron Mike's fist in her face, she'd still be recovering!   Well.. okay, a soft hit.  Scrape.  Not too big, it's over.  Look back... the tree stump was pulled up from us hitting it.  Have mercy.  I tell Bill that from now on we have +5 feet of water or we ain't going in!  Dat's dat, Spanky!

He reluctantly agrees.  The good thing is that all the markers are in place, so wonderful to see.  Right after you enter the LSR you see a horseshoe shaped area to your left... many people anchor in there.  We have found the holding not to be that good... it's rocky in there.  Haven't tried it with the Spade, but don't wanna.  We're going in to get to our hurricane hole.  If we use the time to tie up today, we can rest tomorrow and wait for Ernesto in style.

We meander through the gorgeous landscape of the Little Shark River.  It's one of those areas that if you don't watch your chart closely and make your own notes... you won't get very far in there before you're completely turned around.  Everything looks pretty much alike... however, it is breathtakingly beautiful.  Tons of wildlife.  Manatees, dolphin, cattle egrets, oh yeah... and alligators and crocodiles.  Uh huh.  Only place in the world where they cohabitate.  Just my luck, huh?

On a more somber note, so sorry to hear about one of my favorite people... Steve Irwin, better known as "the Crocodile Hunter."  So sad.  My heart goes out to his wife, Terri, and their little Bindy Sue.  Steve, the world won't be the same without you.  "Crikey, Mate!"  Steve was snorkeling off the Great Barrier Reef when a bat ray's stinger pierced his heart.  Bat rays commonly have an 8-inch stinger.  They're not like the stingrays around here... these suckers look like bats and they're huge!  They can get to 6 feet across easily...  they're tails are about the same length as their width... and then the stinger is enormous.  So, so sad for Steve's family.

Okay, so... there's a little area in Little Shark River called "Point Charmaine."  That's the spot where when we first went up there exploring years ago... I got stuck on that Point.  LOL  Jim and Kathleen of s/v Drummer were up there with us and they pulled us off.  We came off easily, just a little bump of soft sandy mud.  Anywho... I don't get stuck there anymore, I know that Point all too well.

So we round Point Charmaine with ease and keep heading towards our hole.  We're on the home stretch and now we take a soft right and go back into our hole.  My depth sounder suddenly blipped out... ZIP ZIP.  I'm reading ZERO under me... no water.  Oops!  Soft bump.  Shit.

"Bill, get out on the bow sprit."

He complies.

We ain't movin.

Everywhere I look I can see a soft glaze on the water... a sure sign that things have silted in.  What used to be a deep channel is no longer... it's all silted in since Wilma.  When we left after Wilma, we left on a +7 foot tide.  No wonder we didn't remember this being silted in.

So Bills says, "We're gonna have to turn around and go back the way we came."

I turn her hard right, then hard left, no motor... just trying to maneuver her off this bump... but where the hell does the bump end???  ALL the way back.... Have mercy.  So I finally get her to catch hold of some deeper water and we turn around.  We then enter a second hurricane hole nearby... one we're familiar with but have never used.  Yup.

We get into the hole and it's perfect for Ernesto.  We face West... Bill puts on three lines...  two on the starboard side and one on the stern of the port side.  Now we can face Northwest,West, and Southwest... which was Ernesto's projected path.  Excellent.  The Spade anchor held us the whole time we were getting lines ready.  The current in there is very, very swift and powerful.  With our engine, I cannot turn September Sea against the current sometimes.  It can be a real trick putting together a plan on turning the boat in there.  But it all went very well, Bill said the mosquitoes were almost nonexistent.  I had looked up the "Mosquito Index" before we left... it was reported as "Moderate" during early morning and early evening.  They were right.  However, what about the Noseeum Index?

They need one.  Those teeny tiny little bastids came out like they were starved for their lives...  and they made up for lost time, let me tell ya!  I got out a whole roll of duct tape and taped every nook and cranny of the cockpit that looked like a doorway for those critters.  Tape, tape, tape.  More tape.  Honey help me!  Tape.  LOL

It worked.  But only when I got all the sheets wet and stuffed them in between the cockpit enclosure and the coaming.  The noseeums would get in from beneath the outside of the enclosure where it meets the boat's coaming... and then they'd step into "Charmaine's Moat."  I got a kick out of watching them drown.  I know, I know... how morbid.  Well, not really... I don't have a thing on Clive Barker, let me tell ya.  Knowing I did a service for mankind by ridding the world of ten thousand noseeums.  I'm not kidding... the sheets looked like they were black by the time all those silly things drowned.  I am itchin just thinking about it.

So we stayed, remarkably, bug free.

Ernesto was no big deal at all.  Lots of rain, for sure.  We both are smart enough to know what follows rain up in the Little Shark.  Skeeters.  Uh huh.  Get your butts out of that closed in hurricane hole and back out to the open areas of the River.  Bill says, "Soon as this is over, we're heading back to Marathon and gettin' the hell out of here.  The mosquitoes will be horrible after this rain."

He was right.  You could hear them thinking as they laid eggs... "Yeah, those two humans over there must be dumber than dirt... my babies will have a great meal on them."  Oh please!  Yes, let's get out of here.

So we did.  We left the Little Shark on Thursday, August 31st, with a tide of +5 and it was smooth sailing all the way home.  I know, I know... I'm sure you thought something exciting happened... the only thing that would fit that category is when the skeeters that hatched the next day were at our screens trying to get in... they couldn't.  But the thought of them just made me nervous.  I got nauseated at the thought of them somehow breaking in... and sucking on me!  To my rescue... a myriad of dragonflies.  I sat there and watched the dragonflies eat all my troubles away.  I felt like a Hobbit... and here comes Gandalf riding bareback on a dragonfly... to help we mere mortals who can put a man on the moon... but we can't stop mosquitoes from tormenting us.

There IS something wrong with that.  What are we thinking?  First things, first!!  How about Bill #LETS GET ON THIS MOSQUITO PROBLEM.  Take that to the White House, why doncha?  I seen "W" swat at skeeters.  Skeeters don't care if you're the President of the United States or a short black woman with headphones on.  They want your blood!!  Geeze.  We gotta figure this one out, my peoples.

We were gone from Marathon a total of two weeks as we took our time and did some sailing on the way back.  Just a delightful time.  So I sit here in Boot Key Harbor, on our mooring ball, which we just LOVE, reporting to those I love who think we are the Adventuring Smith Ladds.  I can dig it!

So no skeeters, really.  And even more importantly, no earwigs!!  Please, God, don't ever let me see an earwig again... wait... I might be wishing for more than that... skip that, God.  Sorry.  My bad.

(But thinking of earwigs: Now you know why I wear headphones all the time!)

I'm taking NO chances.  Nada.  Zippity-Do-Dah.  Zilch.  ZERO, Baby!

We got back to Marathon and under Mosher Channel.  I had noticed the engine didn't sound quite right... Sput, Sput.  Shake.  Tremble.  "What's going on?"

The engine dies.

Bill says, "Dammit.  I think we just ran out of fuel."

Ha!  In all these years that has never happened.  Good grief!!  We were 1/4 mile from our spot where we anchor... and we gotta call Tow Boat U.S. to bring us some fuel.  Oh, how ridiculous is that?!

Oh well, life goes on... and so it goes with people who run out of petrol.  I can't believe I'm one of those now.  Never have run out of fuel in my life!!

DANG!!

And Bill calls Tow Boat U.S. on the RADIO... is he nuts!  Use the cell phone, you want everyone in the Harbor to know how dumb we are??!!  LOL  Oops!!

Let's hope this year doesn't bring us much in the way of hurricanes.  Hurricane Ernesto came right through the Keys, albeit downgraded to a Tropical Storm.  People got prepared early, canvas was removed and people were tying any and everything down.  Last year taught us to not take chances or have the "Ah, it won't be a big deal" attitude.  Each and every hurricane or storm could be something much, much worse by the time it reaches land. 

And we'll do what we have to do to get through it all.  It's worth it!  Living down here is just a fabulous lifestyle.  Couldn't ask for better. 

Hugs and Kisses

Charmaine (& Bill)



November 22, 2006

It looks like it's all over for this year.  Whew!

The Pacific took a pounding this year, but the Atlantic was quiet.  Seems to work out that way... no one really knows why.  This girl is not complaining... no way!  Hopefully this is a start to a quiet period for the Atlantic after such incredible activity.  We can use the rest.

On our way to the Dry Tortugas tomorrow.  I'll be sure to take lots of pictures to share with you.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Much MUCH Love,

Charmaine



Lighter reading inside "The Hurricane Chronicles" includes:

If you're looking for hysterical MAIN EVENTS at Flamingo...  check out:

"HURRICANE HELL & MOSQUITO MADNESS,"

which was an email originally sent to our dear, dear friends Peggy & Edwin (formerly of mv Tiempo and now, as of August 2006, are on their way to Central America via 4-wheel drive.)  What a couple of adventurers!!  You go, my Sweethearts!!  We'll see you there soon!!

Another is:  "Escape from the Everglades."

Also to be enjoyed is "The Hurricane Prep List."