September 1-31, 2004 - Hurricanes and Generators!

The first week of September was easy enough. Though, we didn't do much work since we wanted to keep the boat ready to go to sea just in case we needed to run from weather. We were watching the various depressions, tropical storms and hurricanes that had formed, and Ivan caught our attention.

We watched Ivan as it progressed, and then we saw the devastation that happened in Grenada. All along, everyone was forecasting Ivan to turn further north so that it would not be a problem for Aruba. Ultimately, the storm didn't turn north. By the time we determined that Ivan could be a serious threat to Aruba, it was almost to late for us to make a run for Lake Maracaibo. We could have made it, but we would have had to go through the Straights of Maracaibo at night. We decided that we would rather stay in Aruba.

We moved the boat behind the barrier island, deployed our regular anchors and our storm anchors. All told, we had out 4 anchors and almost 500 feet of chain and line. After that, we removed everything from the outside of the boat, including all of our solar panels, the wind generator, jib, staysail and bimi top.

In the middle of doing all of this, we received a call from friends who invited us to stay with them for the hurricane. We thanked them for the offer and asked if we could think about it and find out what the weather forecast was.

After securing the boat as well as we could, and talking with a weather forecaster who worked for the Aruba Meteorology department, we decided to leave the boat. They weren't forecasting extremely bad weather from the hurricane but it was a category 4 storm. After discussing it, we decided that as per our agreement, we would leave the boat since a hurricane threatened the island. We called our friends and took them up on their offer.

On our way to meet our friends, we stopped by another friend's boat to let them know what we were doing. They introduced us to a local couple (Kat and Marciano) who have a boat here, and we gave them our contact information, in case something happened with our boat. After saying good bye to everyone, we met our friends at the marina.

We spent the evening keeping track of the storm and finally went to bed.

At 3:30 am, Kat called. Our hearts just about exploded. It turned out that she was calling, hoping that we had heard more information on the hurricane. They had been told that the hurricane turned south and was headed directly for Aruba. After we woke up, and the shock wore off, we called the National Hurricane Center in Miami to get an update on the hurricane. After receiving the update, we called Kat back so she could spread the word that the eye was to the north of the island, and the weather would be improving soon. After winding down from the adrenaline rush, we went back to sleep.

September 11, we woke up to relatively blue skies. Our friends brought us back to the marina, and we headed back to the boat.

The first thing we did was to get our deck house solar panels back out so we could use the aft stateroom. Then Sunday, we put out the bimi solar panels.

Sunday evening, we invited Markus, Tina, their son and Markus' brother Eugene from Hildenberg and Kat and Marciano from Morning Star over for a post-hurricane party. We had a great evening with them.

On September 13, our big generator died. The small one was out of commission because of a starter problem. The first thing we did was to complete the reinstallation of our solar panels and reinstall the wind generator.

On September 14, we continued putting the boat back together and ordered the parts we needed for the large generator. That evening, we had the Hurricane Party part 2 on Hildenberg.

On September 15, we re-sewed the sun covering on the staysail and put it up.

On September 16, we re-sewed the sun covering on the jib and then we had Hurricane Party part 3 on Morning Star.

Imagine, if you will, trying to sew 1400 square feet of sail in a room that is 10 feet by 10 feet! It's not an easy feat!

On September 17, we fixed the bad zippers on the bimi.

On September 20, we received the parts to fix the big generator, and then we installed them on September 21. Unfortunately, the generator had developed an additional problem, and we needed to do serious work on it. That afternoon, we pulled into the Varedaro marina.

On September 22, the mechanic came out and within an hour, he had the head off the engine, and we discovered exactly how bad the damage was.

From September 23 until the end of the month, we didn't really do very much, since most of our time was spent trying to order the parts we needed to rebuild the engine.