November 17, 1999 7:00 AM (0700 marine time, 6 AM in New York and the 3 B's -- Blue Bell and Balti more and Bethlehem -- and 3:00 AM in LA):
The following is the lastest storm bulletin from Virgin Gorda. While it's pretty graphic, we want you to know we think we're safe and will not sustain any significant damage, to the boat or to ourselves. We have just had a tasty breakfast - grilled swiss on Lender's bagels (Will someone please look into an LBJ airlift for us?)
We had a peaceful night, actually. During a lull in the rain around 9 PM, we too k a spin around B Dock and ran into Mel, doing the same (they are 3 boats down from us). He invited us in for leftover chicken soup, which was indeed excellent. Then we trundled on home and tucked in. The rains were light during the night and just started picking up about 10 minutes ago. We haven't had any more big winds, though I suspect what we had was not much, speaking hurricane-wise.
The news is actually good, sort of. It seems Lenny picked up speed during the night, but stayed east instead of turning north. The prediction has been for it to come northeast, which would have made for the direct hit we expected, but it never has. Gary, along, I'm sure, wi th most other boats, has been penciling in its course on a Hurricane Plotting Chart. It's a fairly benign-looking piece of paper for a tool that tracks something so deadly. We'll probably frame it when this is over.
Anyway, if nothing changes (and there's no rule more true than that cyclones and hurricanes pay attention to no rules) Lenny will pass about 30 to 40 miles south of us, instead of dead on us. Wind speeds, which were up to 125 miles an hour are back to 85 - imagine conside ring that tolerable! By the way, I didn't know this, so maybe you don't either: there is no difference between a hurricane, a cyclone and a typhoon. They could be used interchangeably , but hurricane seems to be the favorite term in the West, cyclone and typhoon in the Far East.
The 1500 good cheer continues, however. Davis - who has done the morning call al l the way through this trip and has an irrepressible spirit and quick sense of humor -- go es on chat to do the morning Roll Call and position check.
It seems many of the boats have left, part of their initial cruising plan: Relat ivity, Luna, Fadeaway, Synchronicity, Torch, Manannan. (I believe I heard in some faraway culture, whic h one I've forgotten, Manannan is the name of some benign sea god) Fleet is in Granada; Cha nge Order in Norfolk (not sure whether that's the owners or the boat - remember Change Order, was the catamaran that won, making it here in 6 1/2 days)Shalimar and Miss Manhattan at the Bitter End (hope not!). Legend is into pain killers (that's apparently a drink) Lulu gets a laugh announcing she's Between the Sheets (the double entendre being that Between the Sheets is t he name of one of the other 1500 boats. Not a bad name: better than Sea Itch, I'd say. Sorr y, family in-joke) Nautilus is fine and dandy and floating happily - and has been on deck checking their lines, along with Egg Crate's owner. Bid 3 turns out to be the smartest boat of all: they ret urned to Norfolk on Day 2, having lost their boom (or mast, I forget which) Feisty is trying to be v ery feisty this morning. Endless Summer is about a foot off the pier. Jubilee is trying to be ju bilant alongside Feisty (I said that, he didn't; he being a bit of a dolt. Likewise, Bravado shou ld have said they're braving it out.) August Crow is strapped in and ready to go. Blue Point and Rave n, both of whom diverted to Bermuda early on, then started down here, may be on their way back t here, we hope. Inner Voice is fortunately in the same position as last evening - hove to. Haida Maid IV (I've been intending to ask what that name means) has a 50/50 split in the crew: husband on the boat, wife in a local hotel. Jewel is at the Olde Yarde Inn and Davis invites us all to breakfast in their room.
The Reach is just peachy and still above water. Azzurra, Calvin, Tara Between The Sheets, Heritage, Peregrine, Black Cat, Slow D ancin', Chianti, Delphinus, Hi Flite, Sea Duty, Another Day, Promise, Kinship, Windwalke r, Windborne, Dragon, Interlude, Heritage, Runnymead all appear to be sleeping in.
(I just thought you'd all be interested in the various Caribbean 1500 boat names . Also that our $30 Price Club weather clock reports that it's partly sunny! Well, I guess it is - somewhere.)
Steve Black, the rally coordinator, announces he's glad we're mostly all still t ogether and that we're lucky we came here, to Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbour and not to some place th at chucks you out when there's a storm coming.
A boat that's out there in Bonaire reports there was lot of damage from big wate r surges, that boats there got badly battered against the pilings. Aruba too. (This news appare ntly propels Mel up on his deck to set an anchor. Gary is still between the sheets!)
Roll Call over, we turn to serious business: the storm update, downloaded and de livered by Ken Slagle, on Aquila from NOAA's (National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (we think) Advisory #16, at 0900 Zulu (that's Greenwich Time, which is 5 AM here. (We all have auxiliary clocks at our nav station, near the SSB radios that are set to the universal Zul u time. This somewhat slower than Lulu time.)
The hurricane remains in effect for Puerto Rico, the US and British Virgin Islan ds. The center is located near 16.7 N, 66.0 West (that's the latitude, longitude position), accur ate within 30 nautical miles. (Our position is 18 North, 64 West, so that's about 125 miles aw ay from us.) Its present movement is ENE (East, Northeast) at 12 miles per hour. The eye diameter is 20 miles, I think I heard, the radius of the storm is 60 miles (how far out the winds go) an d the maximum sustained winds are 125 with gusts to 135.
The report goes on to predict Lenny's predicted positions for the next few hours . The numbers come too fast and furious for me and most other listeners to copy.
"In plain English, is this thing passing?" someone asks.
Yes, is the answer. Basically this is more good news. Lenny is now 85 miles sout hwest of St Croix. Given how it's moving the center of it will be somewhere between 65 and 80 miles away and to the south of us at its closest when it passes here, which should be somewhere between noon and 4 PM (1200 and 1600 marine time, 11 AM and 3 PM in New York and the 3 B's -- Blue Bell and Baltimore and Bethlehem -- and 9 AM and 1 PM in LA):
Bottom line: if Lenny's path remains constant, we will be affected by the northw est - weaker -- quadrant of the storm and will have wind speeds of only 40 to 60 miles per hour. It is now 8:45 (0845 marine time, you do the rest of the math. The winds have begun to actually make noise. I wouldn't call it a howl yet, but definitely a low grade noise and building. They're now at 34. 5 miles per hour. The boat has begun rocking more and I've taken a Bonine, just to make sure I don't miss lunch . (Gary says, just to make sure I don't see my lunch twice - and he ought to know!)
Despite all this good news, as we listen to the local radio, they're playing "On ward, Christian Soldiers." Maybe they ought to be listening to us.
Will report later. No doubt.
Hope you all get this.