Posted by: rosyroadsadventures | August 1, 2011

Tropical Storm?

N 18° 04.67′   W 65° 47.78′

Back at port in Humacao (oo-ma-COW) preparing for “Invest 91”, a strong tropical wave.  Back home in Florida folks probably aren’t paying much attention to this system yet, but here in the Caribbean tropical threats can develop fast, and closely following those waves is important. 

We were thinking about making the trip to St. John last week, but had some deliveries coming and wanted to work our way back to port. Then the big tropical wave – Invest 91 – popped up and some of the models predicted it would develop into a tropical storm or hurricane, with the path coming close to Puerto Rico.  So I’m glad we didn’t have to make the longer trip back from St. John.

We had plenty of time en route from Culebra and stopped at lovely Bahía Icacos on Vieques in the Spanish Virgin Islands.

Bahía Icacos is a beautiful, reef surrounded beach anchorage on the northeast tip of Vieques



There were a few boats here on the weekend, and mid-week we might have the place to ourselves


It was just a bit rolly at high tide, and comfortable for the night as long as dinner plans don’t include something like a quiche that would slop around and run out of a non-gimbaled oven, as ours isn’t hinged to stay level when the boat rocks.  But fortunately the chef learned from her past experience in another rolly spot and selected a more suitable menu for the galley conditions. 


This was the only problem with the anchorage


This is the only evidence we have seen thus far of the prior Vieques military presence, which was apparently quite controversial in the early 2000’s. After a Vieques civilian military employee was killed by a stray munition during bombing practice, there was a successful public protest to stop the war exercises. Since the closure of the nearby Roosevelt Roads Naval base, most of Vieques is now park land, although much of it is designated as “closed”. Possibly the liability of someone encountering a leftover explosive is too great? It seems a shame that this land is not cleaned up.  The area was patrolled by park rangers, and even at night they checked the area periodically with large spotlights. There were people using the beach, including us, and we never saw the rangers shoo anyone away. It seemed that if you stayed below the high tide mark you were okay. 

Today, August 1, marks our original absolute deadline to complete our travels to the East Coast of Puerto Rico.  Although we would have liked more time to explore the Bahamas and Dominican Republic along the way, we didn’t want to risk getting caught in a storm situation in an unfamiliar location en route.   An early arrival was good, since today’s news headline here warns: “Possible Storm Brewing: Strong Tropical Wave Expected to Become Tropical Depression”.  The weather, which is predicted to arrive here on Tuesday or Wednesday is definitely the buzz at the marina, and folks seem nervous, not having experienced any tropical storms since the marina opened several years ago.  Hugo in 1989 and Georges in 1998 were the last significant hurricanes to pass through the area. 

We will set up the new storm lines and secure loose items on deck today. Then we will make the call as to whether we need to take down the bimini top. Our canvas is aging and we could end up damaging the zippers by taking it apart.  It could probably survive mild tropical storm winds.  So we will wait until the storm gets closer to decide. I will also line up accommodations ashore if the situation worsens and we want to evacuate the boat. 

With the many past weather threats at home in Florida Bob was predictably calm. I would be on the internet every 3 hours reviewing the various weather websites and computer models and reading the opinions of the weather officials and bloggers. Bob would say “it’s hundreds of miles away, no one knows exactly where it’s going, it’s too soon to worry” and “there’s nothing you can do about it, if the worst happens we’ll deal with it”. As luck would have it, with an approaching storm Bob was usually on the road for his work.   I had the tasks of securing the house and the boat and making evacuation arrangements for the dogs in addition to my number one priority, ensuring disaster preparations were properly implemented at work.   Now the boat is home, there are no competing priorities, we are sitting afloat in the Caribbean and a potentially big storm is coming. The same approach applies. We do our best to prepare and execute the plan and deal with whatever happens. Yet it seems strange and almost a luxury for both of us to be in the same place right now to take on the preparations together.

Bob reminded me to figure out what I want to take in a hurry if we decide to evacuate the boat. Right now that doesn’t seem like a difficult decision, since I don’t have a lot of stuff anymore. Most items of sentimental and personal importance have been stored on electronic media. If the time comes, the final decisions will probably present more challenges.

Our first big mail shipment since leaving home is scheduled to arrive today. I am also expecting delivery of the long awaited kayak that was impounded for a time in a little local red tape . . . but those things will have to wait until the outcome of Invest 91.








  1. Logging into WeatherUnderground to check it out as soon as I send this. Stay safe.

    • The system looks formidable on radar this am, but the weather models show a less intense forecast than they did a couple of days ago, and tracking more to the south of this area. Concerning that they had trouble getting data from the hurricane hunter aircraft yesterday. Guess we’ll find out soon enough!

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