Irma Misses


Friday we finished tying up the boat the way we wanted, closed the doors and crossed our fingers. That night we spent at a hotel next to the Jacksonville airport, and in the morning I said goodbye to the family as they flew off to visit Grammy.

Our friends live about 25 miles inland on a side creek of Doctors Lake, which itself is off of the St. Johns River. Their backyard doesn’t normally look like this, but even 36 hours before Irma got to us, the water was rising.

On Sunday I decided to go have a look at the boat one more time. The roads were eerily empty.

Now about 18 hours before Irma’s arrival the docks had about 8 feet left on the pilings. For me, more than wind or anything else, the concern was that the surge would lift the docks up and off of those pilings, at which point all hell breaks loose.

About two a.m. on Monday morning I woke at our friend’s house with water coming in. We fought it with sandbags, big gas-powered water pumps, and generators once the power went out, but there is just no stopping water when it wants to come in. It rose fast, and before we knew it the water was knee-deep throughout the house and we were running out of time to get the cars through the lake that used to be the driveway. We loaded their kids up and drove to another friend’s house a few feet higher—it sometimes feels like the entire state of Florida is less than ten feet above the water.

Everyone is safe, but sadly, our friend’s have a lot of work ahead of them.

Around ten o’clock Monday morning I made my way back down to St. Augustine. The highway headed south was busy now—everyone was eager to get home.

I was so excited to get to the boat, but half a mile from the marina the road was shut down. The National Guard and Police had it shut down, and they didn’t care one bit how much you wanted to get to your house/boat. I walked around for a while, then just took a nap in the truck. Finally, around four o’clock they let us through to the marina.

And there she was, sitting just as nicely as I had left her. There was absolutely no sign on the boat that Hurricane Irma had ever been there. In the end, the docks got within three or four feet of the top. If the original path projections had been correct, we would have been screwed—we got lucky this time around.



49 Comments on “Irma Misses”

  1. So happy the boat made it through this. Too bad for your friends, a flood makes a hell of a mess.

  2. It amazes me that people, in the face of impending high winds, leave their head sails furled, mains with covers still on! Major storms in the PNW (we’ve had hurricane force winds many times in the winter) create lots of work for sail makers & canvass workers when boat owners leave cloth up during a blow.
    Your marina was fortunate – glad to hear all is well on your “new” boat!

  3. I’m sure I speak for many when I say thank you for posting so quickly. I didn’t expect that you would find the time for at least a few more days. Great to hear that your boat survived unscathed. A few months ago, I started reading your blog from the beginning. Now I’m addicted, and eagerly await each new installment !

  4. Pat and Ali, and the kids, it’s been a hell of a year for you guys. Lots of good things, but way too many close calls for my blood.
    It would ok if things settled down now to your normal everyday adventures.
    Once again, I’m glad everything turned out.

  5. Glad to hear you made it through. We are hearing horrible stories of boats lost just about everywhere. We are save in Grenada and wondering why other cruisers chose to stay in the upper Caribbean during hurricane season.

    Mark and Cindy
    sv Cream Puff

  6. Glad to see your boat still sitting as left; certainly not the case for many. You got very, very lucky.

    Even here, in the mountains of NC, we lost a a little… one glass table top outside and one storm window (circa 1923) but we have spares.

    Power is still out for 10,000 in NC – but nothing compared to Florida.

  7. So great that the made it through unscathed. Sorry about your friend’s house. Our house had just minor damage from winds. Take care and enjoy some R&R with Grammy….

  8. Yeah! Some good news in all the chaos. Glad to hear your floating home weathered the storm (floating docks–yeah!)

  9. So thrilled to hear the fantastic news!!

    We took a direct strike down in Marathon, and it will be days before we’re allowed back to Y-Not. But, at least we have confirmed she’s still floating and at her dock.

  10. So thrilled to hear the boat is okay. I bet Ali and the kids will be glad to leave the smoke in the Northwest. There’s been entirely too many disasters going on at once. We are still waiting to hear from our friend at Mile Marker 13 in the Keys.
    Looking forward to stories ahead as you guys finally get to enjoy your new home.

  11. Great news! That was a close call. 2017 has been a disastrous year all over the world, I am happy you and your family were spared… Our son just got home from a fire fighting tour in central B.C. He is pretty tired…

  12. Bravo! So glad you and the boat weathered Irma! Thank you for posting so soon to let us all know.
    We’re in Houston and got five feet of water in the house from Harvey but we’re almost dried out and insurance has been awesome. I was much more worried for you with Irma and am so happy to hear the family can soon sail off. Irma and Harvey sure caused a lot of trouble.

  13. Such good news – I can imagine your relief when you saw her safe – right where you left her. Lots of people were holding their breath for you guys. I’m SO looking forward to reading about your future sailing adventures. 🙂

  14. Yay! What a sigh of relief that must be. So glad to hear your home is secure and will be waiting for you when you come back from Grammy’s. Looking forward to your water adventures. If you end up doing the loop I hope to cross paths with you in the Great Lakes some day. Would be very happy to tell you about our favorite places.

  15. Clearly Good News! In ’02 we had our cutter Silhouette in Paradise Marina (PV) for a Tropical Depression and the docks got within 10″ of the top of the pilings. We were saved because it came 1 hour before high tide, the highest that month.

        1. Of course! We don’t throw the teak away, we just sand it down and put our name on it. There is another one on each side of the boat too.

  16. Been with you guys from the beginning, have been anxiously waiting to hear how you survived. So glad all is well.

  17. Pat,

    Thank for helping at our house! We may have been knocked down, but we fantastic friends like you that help out when needed! We are happy the boat was pristine and hopefully we can do it again….. Without a hurricane.

    Looking forward to the adventure to continue.

    Unfortunately, my offer to come over and stay probably is no longer good. But you’re always welcome to hang out in a gutted house with us.

    1. Thanks for letting me drive the lawnmower. Glad I didn’t embarrass myself. 😉

      You guys are awesome, and are welcome at the boat any time. Let’s get the kids to the beach and on some little waves.

  18. I saw you wandering around with a dazed look on your face Monday! Somehow I talked the National Guard into letting me into the marina (I really don’t know how). Glad the boat was ok and sorry to hear about your friends…Welcome to FL!!!

  19. You getting out of hurricane alley before Maria? I imagine that’s a pretty good hurricane marina though.

  20. Pat. I will be leaving minn. For Melbourne fl Sept 30. Flying back. If near Melbourne with you boat let me know!_ crash at my place and use my car if needed! Warn you tho I drive a 32 year old Cadillac!_Steve Kent. Pops Walden creek rv

  21. Hope you guys are ok !!! If you are chilling in st Augustine, check out pizzallys chianti room for happy hr !!
    M-f 3-6 2for 1 drinks, free slice and $5 10″ pizzas !! One of our favorite stops on the ICW from NC to points south !!

  22. Enjoy the next couple of 80 degrees days, and then the 60’s with rain to follow! I live on Bainbridge Island in PugetSound and know what that is like. Hope you guys can make it back to your boat 🚣 soon, and begin your next adventure! Give Grammy a hug 🤗 from me, even though we’ve never met.

  23. doged the bullet this time. I have a condo on Sanabel. Irma came in at Naples and the eye sort of bypassed Fort Meyers. doged to bullet myself. lots of trees down but not much damage to buildings in that area. So glad the boat was not damaged but sorry about your friends house. Now number four is headed for the panhandle area. what a crazy season. FJ

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