2004 was a CRAZY hurricane season.
To Floridians, 2004 will be remembered as the "Year With All the Hurricanes". Yes, I know that everyone thinks of 2005 as the bad hurricane year, since that was when Hurricane Katrina demolished New Orleans, but those of us in Florida saw a steady procession of hurricanes throughout the 2004 season: Charley, Frances, and Jeanne in particular all passed within 50 miles of Tampa. Check out the map: http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/tracks/2004atl.gif.
And let's not forget Hurricane Ivan! It passed safely to our west, nearly hit New Orleans (a major warning shot, if anyone had heeded it), ran on up through North Carolina, and then made an unprecedented U-turn back south over the open ocean as a tropical storm, only to cross Florida into the Gulf, reintensify into a hurricane again, and smack the Texas / Louisiana border! Never seen anything like it.
In any case, all this activity kept us on a relentless treadmill of hurricane preparation. At the start of the season, we didn't own a single storm shutter. (In fact, if Hurricane Charley had actually hit us straight on like the forecasters said it would, we would have sustained some serious damage.) By the end of the season, Theresa and I had cut custom plywood storm shutters for the entire house. Not all at once, mind you, because plywood was so hard to come by. We'd do a group of windows for one storm, then the next would offer a different trajectory, so we'd do some more, etc. So anyway, that was our summer and fall.
We did attempt to participate in the Michelob Cup back in April 2005, but the winds pushed all the water out of our basin, so we couldn't even get out. :-( Other than that, I just got out to the boat every couple months to check on her and make minor repairs.
OK, come to think of it, I did make one MAJOR repair. Remember those skylights that I bedded down with that goop from West Marine, and that popped right loose again as soon as we had the boat out in some swells? Well, the goop kept cracking, and the skylights were leaking badly. I finally came to the grudging conclusion that I was going to have to pull them all out and fix them again. I called Beneteau and asked them to recommend an expert who could come out and do the job right, since I had obviously botched the job myself, and the Salt Creek guys had botched it the time before. Beneteau gave me a number of a guy up in Tarpon Springs who had actually seated skylights before, but he didn't want to drive down and fix mine himself. He was kind enough to tell me exactly what to buy though, and how to apply it.
The magic product is Sika-Flex, and the only place that carries it is some kind of commercial outlet up in St. Pete. I made arrangements one day to get up there before 4:30pm so I could pick some up, and when the first hurricane started heading our way, I decided that I really needed to get the job done. I drove out to the boat on a Friday, pulled the starboard skylight out, cleaned up the opening, spread the ink-black primer on both surfaces, and then applied a good, continuous bead of Sika-Flex all the way around the opening. The skylight seated back in beautifully.
That all went so smoothly that I got a little overconfident on the second skylight, and as I was pulling it loose from the cabin roof, I SNAPPED IT IN TWO! You could have heard me cursing all the way to Tampa. With the hurricane due to arrive before the end of the weekend, I didn't have time to have a new skylight made, and I didn't dare leave a gaping hole in my cabin roof (canvas and tape or no) during a freakin' hurricane. So I glued the two pieces back in.
This all had me pretty bummed out, but after the first hurricane (Charley) blew past us, I went out to check on the boat, and I was rather pleased to see that the ONLY leak was the one between the two pieces of plexi, and that it happens to land by the sink. That's another thing to add to the list. Three steps forward, two steps back.
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