Almost immediately after we had packed up our California home and journeyed across the country (more on that later) to our new floating home in Daytona Beach, Hurricane Irma grew to monstrous size and decided to pay us a visit. Reported as the strongest Atlantic storm in recorded history, Irma ripped a path of destruction through the very Caribbean islands that we plan on visiting in a few months before setting her sights on Florida.
It didn’t take us more than a couple of seconds to decide to head north, while leaving the boat as prepared for a storm as we could make it (triple dock lines, removed sails, prayer, etc). We were among the lucky ones that had a car, so we headed north to stay with family. HUGE THANKS to all of our friends at Halifax Harbor Marina. We made fast friends and felt right at home among you all on H dock!
Now, we’re from Northern California–the land of earthquakes. They strike without warning and either you’re okay, or your not. Like ripping off a band-aid. We’re not used to hurricanes, though, which slowly stalk you from across an ocean like some kind of zombie horde–always moving, never resting, unpredictable, bent on your destruction. They take a bit of getting used to, and to be honest, I’m not sure I want to get used to them.
So, as I was saying, we fled north. We drove through the night and imposed ourselves for a week (two adults, four kids, and two dogs) upon Mary Jane’s aunt and cousin. The hospitality was so amazing that it was hard to leave.
The kids plugged away on boat school, including trips to a battleship, a Civil War era fort, and an aquarium. And, of course, a late night excursion to the Waffle House, which scores low on the educational and nutritious scale, but high on the fun and tasty.
After an incredible “hurricane party” with Mary Jane’s family, we nervously went back to our boat to see how badly she was damaged. Thankfully, she didn’t have a scratch! Three sweltering days of working in the Daytona heat and we were ready to get moving, heading north to get as far away from the hurricane zone as we could.
The Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) stretches up the east coast, allowing for travel along the coast when conditions in the ocean prove unfavorable. It’s beautiful, often boring, and sometimes dangerous--especially at night (which we attempted several times though each time we did we told each other, “never again!”) Poorly charted buoys, floating logs, obnoxious power boaters, and road hog tugboats are just a few of the things you might encounter. Not to mention dolphins, flamingos, and the occasional renegade pack of jet skis racing up behind you like a chase scene from a James Bond movie.
After a few days of monotonous motoring (Ugh…why can’t we sail yet?!?) up the ICW we found that we had we had Hurricane Maria on our tail, so we ducked up the Cape Fear River to Wilmington, North Carolina, and spent another few days with MJ’s family waiting out yet another hurricane.
Our hearts are broken for all of the loss of life and property due to these storms. Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and other smaller islands have been absolutely devastated, not to mention the damage to Florida and other U.S. states. We passed countless broken docks, damaged homes, and boats that had been sunk or thrown upon the shore.
For now, we are getting used to boat life little by little while relentlessly motoring north. We are enjoying spectacular sunrises, and even more spectacular sunsets, while learning to embrace a lifestyle in which the journey is as important–no, more important–than the destination.