A day in the life…Hurricane Dennis

October 13, 2010 § Leave a comment

Although Hurricane Dennis caused millions of dollars in damage in Dade County, Florida, fortunately for my family, living aboard a leaky wooden boat at a small Keys resort called “Smuggler’s Cove,” it hit us as a tropical storm–albeit with rainfall totals of biblical proportions.  Did I mention our boat was leaky?

Journal entry: August 17, 1981:  

We are leaving the clutches of a hurricane scare, suffering through bleak stretches of gray rain.  Hour by hour yesterday we watched the weather reports as tropical storm Dennis inched up from Cuba toward the Keys, waiting for it to suck the warmer temperatures out of the Gulf and accelerate into a hurricane.

All the Smuggler’s Cove men were out stringing the boats across the basin.  Everything at Smuggler’s has been layed on its side or turned over in anticipated surrender to the wind.  The metal bases of the overturned tables are called “birdbaths” by the kids as they’re all filled to the brim with rusty water.  Josie and the other children have been whooping and running under the pavilion, gliding on the wet concrete.

Dennis has dropped at least a dozen inches of rain on us in the last 24 hours.  Everything near the walls of the boat is wet. Our mattresses are laden with water, and there’s no prospect of drying out in sight.  The seat of my jeans is soaked.  Ray has been clothed in wet pants and a plastic trash bag raincoat for two days.  He has made near hourly rounds to run bilge pumps.  This evening we cooked beans and hotdogs on the Coleman stove up on the deck while a light rain dimpled the creek.

Inside the boat tonight it is hot and still, but we don’t dare open anything or the fierce mosquitoes will get us.   Ray just pounded the window to warn away a sailboat that was about to ram us broadside.  Both vessels are just black shapes in the water.

I’m writing by one candle power.  Ray is down in the bilge trying to figure out how to make the pump work without power or jumper cables.

Success!  He has hooked up the truck battery to the boat battery and the bilge pump is working–also two small lights.  Ray makes our world run.

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