On Sunday, October 21, 2018, Hurricane Willa commenced. The rain and high winds one expects with such a storm did not materialize, but the news reports, emails, discussions and planning all ensued as per the stormy weather predicted. The morning radio net was focused on the NOAA predictions, government warnings and the location of the nearest evacuation center. A Category 5 hurricane rightly stokes the fears in any sailor’s heart, but the forecast models showed little fierceness for the north of Mazatlán. Nonetheless, canvases came down, sails were tied down or removed, and extra dock lines were woven until the marina looked a bit like a giant spider had visited.
The local dock crews were tremendous in their efforts to prepare for the storm and it is heartening to know that, even in absentia, people do look after your boat. News reports of catastrophic devastation in Mazatlán did little to cool the anxieties back home.
By Monday afternoon, NOAA showed the track of Willa had veered deliciously south and forecast models showed winds of 5 – 15 knots at the marina in Mazatlán. That said, it could easily veer north again, so further preparations were undertaken. The restaurants and stores alongside the marina boarded or taped up their windows and many closed early.
On Carpe Ventus, bags were packed and ready to go, escape routes were investigated and essential food items were topped up. A few known boats, whose owners were still up north, were checked on and nothing was left to do but relax in the cockpit with a beer and a book.
Tuesday was hurricane day. If there was to be a conflagration, this was going to be it. Many sailors left the marina for safer accommodations inland, marina staff went home to care for their own, restaurants closed and nary a mariachi band was heard. As the rains began, all seemed quite calm. I dug out my rain gear and strolled the marina. It felt a little like I was the last person on earth, as the usually bustling community had disappeared. Oddly, the 3 cm of rain that fell did cause some minor flooding; they just do not have storm drain infrastructure here. As the hurricane made landfall further south, the winds were about 5 knots and the maximum wind over the 3-day period was about 15 knots. To the west, the sunset was glorious and a golden glow illuminated the flotilla, while to the east, giant dark clouds obliterated the sky.
Wednesday was spent reversing all the preparations and reviving the lost community. What better way than to have a BURP.
The Canadian collective of 8 were invited for a pot luck dinner on Thursday night: Dennis Giraud and Gerri McKiernan of Ultegra; Jackie and Mike Champion of Angelique; and Justin, Lisa and Carson of Bloom. Unfortunately, the last 3 later called in sick. As usual, a lovely evening ensued with plenty of food, beverages and conversation. A new recipe was born: ‘Chicken Willa’! It starts off hot and spicy, with second bites being sweeter and juicier, and the whole affair being golden.
Hurricanes are definitely a threat to sailors and warnings should be heeded. However, keep an eye on the weather forecasts not the newscasts!