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Hurricane Adrian Emails

What follows are the emails we sent out to our friends and family during Hurricane Adrian:


Subject: Sula and Hurricane Adrian

Date: 19 May 2005 19:40:37 -0000

From: "S/V Sula"

Hello all. I'm sure some of you are aware that Hurricane Adrian is fast approaching our location on the Pacific coast of El Salvador, so I wanted to give you a quick update.

We are at anchor in Bahia del Sol, El Salvador (13 18.12N 88 53.66W) where we have been for the past 3 weeks. It's a very secure and protected salt water mangrove estuary, with perfect depths for anchoring (around 20 feet) good holding (mud and sand) and very narrow channels so there is very little fetch (i.e. no room for waves to build up from high winds). All that means that if you are going to be in hurricane, this is a great place to be. There are 55 other vessels here (a record - we brought the last one across the bar yesterday) and we all have been preparing for the approach of the storm for 2 days now, removing gear and sails, stowing things, setting additional anchors, tending to the boats whose owners are away, etc. as well as making contingency plans if things get nasty. For example, we have put together crew (and pet!) lists for every boat, inventoried medical personal and gear incase there are injuries and we need to set up a make-shift treatment facility and so on. (This is all almost certainly overkill, but we have a lot of type-A personalities here and it's not just the cruisers we are thinking about after the storm, but also the local El Salvadorians, who could be more adversely impacted by winds, flooding and tidal surge then those of us sitting tight in ocean-capable vessels. Additionally, cruisers often have better equipment and better training and experience than any local medical assistance here in this semi-remote area and are often called upon to render medical care even in the best of weather).

As of 11 am Pacific Standard time today (1800 UTC), Tropical Storm Adrian was upgraded to Hurricane Adrian with sustained maximum winds of 75 kts with higher gusts. At that time, it's position was 12.6N 90.6W moving NE at 7 knots - basically right towards us. It is predicted to intensify slightly over the next few hours and make landfall on the pacific coast of El Salvador this evening approximately 40 miles to the west of us. That is pretty close, but at that distance, we would not feel the hurricane force winds here (probably just winds in the 40-50kt range). The accuracy of the reports is +/- 30 miles, and there is the possibility that the tract can always shift, so we are preparing as if the eye will make a direct hit on our location, but hoping it moves farther west and that all we will receive is a lot of rain.

So far, we are getting a lot of rain (almost 2 inches since midnight - up to 20 inches total are predicted) but not much wind. Things should start getting interesting in a few hours as the eye approaches.

Have no doubt, we are very very prepared. We are anchored in perfect spot and have our super huge anchor set well on 250 feet of 1/2" chain and a second anchor ready to go on the foredeck. Everything that can be removed from deck to reduce windage has been and we have been helping the other boats around us with their preparations too so they stay put! We are very ready. And as hurricanes go, this is a small one, barely a hurricane actually (it will only be a hurricane for 12 hours or so as it will likely loose strength once it reaches land). As long as it stays a category 1 hurricane (the least powerful category) we plan to stay onboard for the duration. It is early in the season and this storm tract is very atypical, moving the opposite direction than most storms do here (the last one to move NE like this and hit Pacific EL Salvador was 80 years ago) so it is unlikely the storm will gain much more in strength. So, don't worry about us. We are all set and we have lots of help around us should we need it.

We will try to send another email update tonight or tomorrow morning as we know more if our communications stay up, but if you don't hear from us right away, don't worry! We are fine!

Hope all is well with everyone!



Subject: Update: Sula and Hurricane Adrian

Date: 20 May 2005 04:35:40 -0000

From: "S/V Sula"

Hey folks. The tract of the storm has gone slightly west (which is good for us) and now looks to make landfall about 60 nautical miles to the west of our position at about 10:30pm local time (which is 9:30pm PST or 0430 Zulu on the 20th).

We currently have sustained winds of 25-30 kts from the NE with gusts to perhaps 35kts. It's rained almost 5 inches in the last 24 hours. And its cold! Down to 65 degrees in the cockpit (it was near 100 a few days ago).

We are doing great. No storm surge or swell and no significant wind wave action here inside the anchorage. Things are very comfortable and so far, no boats have dragged anchor or had any problems. We expect the winds to build some at our position as the eye moves inland and swing around to the south over the next 24 hours, but it now looks like we will be able to avoid any true hurricane strength winds where we are.

Will send an update in the morning or when conditions change.



Subject: It's all over - Sula and Hurricane Adrian

Date: 20 May 2005 16:29:36 -0000

From: "S/V Sula"

Hey folks.

Well, it's all over. No damage, no injuries (although one gentlemen, who opted to leave his boat at anchor and stay ashore during the storm in the nearby hotel walked through a glass door at the hotel! Nothing serious, but he has had a string of bad luck. His boat took a hard knock down - spreaders under water - crossing the bar into the anchorage last month and then subsequently was the only boat here to get struck by lightning in a squall 2 weeks ago, loosing most of his electronics! We love the guy, but we are glad he is anchored at the other end of the estuary!)

Anyway, the eye of the storm came ashore right where and when we expected, about 50 nautical miles to the west of us. We had been receiving hourly position reports from the NOAA National Hurricane Center in Florida on the storms strength, position, predicted course, etc via our high frequency single sideband radio (which we found to be highly accurate and matched our own experience closely - NOAA flies airplanes through the storm to gather this data, so you have got to love those guys!) as well as periodic weather faxes, GRIB weather files, satellite imagery and other textual weather reports, including the surprisingly helpful forward looking comments posted in the NOAA National Hurricane Center 'Adrian Discussion Group'. By plotting the storm's course hourly, we had a high degree of confidence about what to expect and when. It was interesting to compare this information to that being broadcast on CNN and the local EL Salvadorian TV stations people were watching in the hotel, which was generally incorrect and/or greatly exaggerated. The cruisers here clearly had better, more accurate and more up-to-date weather information than the local news agencies did and indeed, several of us were in constant contact with the NOAA NHC in Florida, providing them with periodic updates on local barometric pressure, wind strength and direction, rain fall accumulation, and so on.

In the anchorage, we saw maximum sustained winds in the 30-35kt range with a few gusts into the 40s, but that was all. That's windy, but nothing we haven't experienced at anchor and offshore dozens of times before. The wind chop never exceeded 2 feet and there was no storm surge or swell felt inside the estuary. With our massive ground tackle, we had absolutely no fear of our boat dragging anchor, our only real concern was for other boats around us breaking a mooring or dragging into us, which thankfully didn't happen. Eric was on deck on the hour (wearing a snorkel mask to see through the torrential sidewise rain) checking the positions of boats around us as well as the chafe gear on our anchor snubbers, but other than that we spent the duration comfortably below or in the cockpit under the dodger. Around midnight local time, the wind began to drop and by 2:00am we no longer felt the need to stand anchor watch and turned in. It rained constantly - we saw perhaps 7 inches in 24 hours here on the coast, with inland mountainous regions receiving much more - and indeed it is still raining lightly at 10am local time this morning. Winds are currently below 10 kts here and predicted to stay light. NOAA has issued their supposedly last official report for the storm (at 1500 Zulu or 8am PST, center is well ashore at 15N 87.5W moving NE at 15kts) and it is predicted to move into the Gulf of Mexico and dissipate over the next 24 hours.

So, all the excitement is over. Thanks everyone for the kind thoughts and well wishes. It was good practice to prepare, but it turned out not to be a big deal at our location (although sadly there are reports coming in of injuries and deaths from mud slides and such further inland in this extremely mountainous country).

It's been a while since we updated the web site - we have been traveling inland - but we should have an update for you within a few days. Stay tuned!


S/V Sula

Hallberg-Rassy 53 - 45