As everyone has heard by now, Hurricane Irma has been wreaking havoc on the Caribbean islands, the Bahamas and Cuba with its path set on making landfall in Florida on Sunday. Earlier in the week we watched as Irma gained mass and power and started heading in our direction. By Wednesday, most of the state of Florida was in the cone of the hurricane. Tuesday evening, Randy and I had a look at the forecast and had to make some decisions.
We have Blue Turtle on a “hurricane plan” with Snookbight Marina, the marina we used to live at. Basically, we pay a set fee annually to be on their hurricane haul out list. If any named storm is set to visit us near Fort Myers Beach, they will haul us out with their fork lift and place us inside the barn on the bottom floor along with other large boats. The barn is hurricane rated for maximum winds of 130-145 mph. They called us on Tuesday and let us know that they wanted to haul us out as soon as possible on Wednesday morning. So, it was time for Randy and I to make some decisions.
Our original plan was that we would have the boat hauled out and then head to my parent’s home to ride out the storm. My parents were already heading out of town to travel to the Smokies and then out west. After careful consideration of the forecast, we decided that since we had the boat taken care of and no property to look after, we needed to get just get out of town. With so much of Florida in Irma’s huge cone, we were certain that there would be power outages for at least a week.
So, Wednesday morning, we packed up some clothes and valuable items and loaded them into the truck. We untied the dock lines at Salty Sam’s and headed over to Snook Bight Marina where we left Blue Turtle tied to the dock waiting for her turn to be hauled out. We had called some friends of mine the night before in my hometown of Louisville, KY to discuss the possibility of a visit and by Wednesday afternoon we were on our way out of the the state.
We drove for about 6 hours and make it to a hotel in Ocala where we snuck our dog, Sophie in the hotel via the stairwell. The next morning, we left around 7:30 am and drove for 12+ hours to which we only managed to make it to a hotel near Chattanooga, TN. After 12 hours, we should have been at our destination of Louisville, but with the hurricane evacuation traffic we ran into so many delays. Traffic was insane and every exit was even worse. Lines were formed around the corners for gas, fast food, etc. Rest areas were crazy with cars parked everywhere in the grass and people were sleeping in their cars. After seeing how slow our progress was, we decided to take an alternate route to avoid Atlanta and toward Chattanooga to stay for the night.
We finally arrived at my friend’s house on Friday afternoon. With the forecast looking even worse (the hurricane track shifted more west), we were happy we made the decision to get out of Florida early. We are now glued to the TV anxiously awaiting the arrival of Irma and wondering what devastation she may bring. We’re communicating with friends and family to make sure everyone is safe and now it is just a waiting game. We are fearful that we may not have a home to go to after this. Our boat is safe from wind in a barn but with 15′ of storm surge, that means our trawler could be floating inside of that barn and bumping into all the other boats of similar size that were also stored on the bottom. We are so very grateful for our friends for taking us in without even knowing when we’ll be leaving. From here, we sit and wait. And pray that everyone is safe and that our home is repairable.