Riding out Tropical Storm Colin - Pt. 1

We interrupt the fun and games in St. Augustine to bring you Tropical Storm Colin. We delayed a previous departure from St. Augustine as we waited for Tropical Storm Bonnie to make her way up the Carolina coast and dissipate … and come back to life … and finally die a lingering death. We were all set to leave when Tropical Depression 3 sprung up quite unexpectedly (for us anyway) off the Yucatan peninsula. It became Tropical Storm Colin overnight and quickly made its way across the Gulf of Mexico, strengthened and headed straight for Florida. Just our luck, Colin is the earliest Atlantic “C” storm on record, since they started naming storms in 1953. Going all the way back to 1851, however, the previous earliest appearance of the season’s third storm was June 12, 1887, although some early-season storms were undoubtedly missed during the pre-satellite era. TSColin_trop storm force wind predictions

We hemmed and hawed and vacillated back and forth about sticking around in St. Augustine or leaving. Should we stay on our mooring? We're quite well protected here behind a barrier island though we're not far from the St. Augustine Inlet. We can expect some fetch and storm surge. The current is sometimes strong and when wind is against current, it could get mighty uncomfortable. If we left, could we beat out the storm? Are we being wimps? It's always hard to make the decision. We never know how much sensationalism the weather forecasters and news agencies are adding to the facts. Plus we all know, weather forecasting is not an exact science. In the end, Mother Nature does what she wants to do, despite weather models, predictions and memos to the contrary. Perhaps Colin would just peter out and then we've wasted two good sailing days for nothing. On the other hand, if the projected path of the storm was as forecast, it would nail us off the Carolina coast just as we reached infamous Cape Hatteras with projected 50+ knot sustained winds … higher gusts … and heavy seas. The GRIB forecast and Buoy Weather confirmed this. We decided to stay put. The day was sunny and bright and breezy and it was hard to imagine what was coming our way.

We woke to heavy, gray, ominous-looking skies, flat-calm water and no wind. It showered with heavy downpours throughout the morning and we're anticipating the same for the rest of the day. David took the opportunity during lulls to check mooring lines, batten down the canvas and wash the remaining salt off the decks. When we have extra fresh water, we tend to make the most of it. With a predicted 3-5” of rain in the next 24 hours, we'll have all the fresh water we can deal with. We are not alone in the mooring field. There are several boats who have made the same decision to hang tight. Folks are out and about checking lines, lashing things down and preparing for the worst.

Ashore they're expecting localized flooding. The forecast also includes violent thunder and lightning, possible tornadoes and of course, strong, gusty winds. The extra iPad and GPS are in the microwave oven, just in case.

We are just south of Jacksonville and in the direct projected path of the storm, the worst of which is scheduled to arrive around 0200. Of course, always in the middle of the night! We're not expecting to sleep much, so I think I'll have plenty of time to write and provide a blow-by-blow description of the storm for you tomorrow. Stay tuned!