Last week tropical storm Bret just popped up near the Bahamas, and luckily didn’t strengthen much and headed northeast away from the U.S. mainland. But, it was a good warning that the time is now here when all sailors in the North Atlantic and North Pacific must pay attention to what is happening in the tropics. At the very least bookmark the homepage of the national hurricane center and check it a couple of times per day. Refer to my previous post about other sources of tropical weather information and note those too. When on the boat make sure you tune in to NOAA Weather Radio several times per day. And, it is a good idea to make a point of watching your local weather TV at least once per day–television can provide a good visual cue as to how ready you need to be.
Take a note of all of these systems that pop up regularly down in the Caribbean and off of Central America, and check on them once a day, even if they are a long way from where you are. Once a system becomes a hurricane things can move quite quickly, and it is easy to be caught unprepared or in an unfavorable location. Don’t dismiss what is happening in the other ocean, some of these storms cross over Mexico or Central America to impact the other side. And for that matter, some of these hurricanes eventually cross the North Atlantic and impact Europe.
Of course, it is also time to ratchet up your preparedness if you live in an area likely to be affected by hurricanes. Do you have spare bottled water, batteries, an emergency radio, extra lines, extra fenders, gas cans, etc. ? Now is the time to collect whatever you might need upon the approach of a storm and position the items so that they are readily available. When a storm gets close stores are likely to run out of supplies, plus travel gets more difficult, and you should be spending your time securing your boat and then hopefully getting yourself and your loved ones to a safe location. These things all take more time than you think, particularly when everyone else is doing the same. Just one small thing I do is I try to keep my cars gassed up several days ahead of time so that I am ready to move quickly to wherever I need to be.
It is time to pay attention.