Life returned to normal pretty quick. The beaches however did not, islands of seaweed floated in and covered the beach. My neighborhood friends and I would build forts out of the seaweed. Also you could just get a handful of seaweed and shake it and several small colorful fish would drop out onto the sand. These made bait fish for me. I would just go down on the way to the rock pier and shake out a small box full of bait fish and I would be good to go. We only lived in Galveston for a year as we soon moved to Dallas/ Ft. Worth TX. area All my memories of Galveston are fond with just the minor interruption of a Hurricane that prevented a ten yr old boy from fishing every day.
Tropical Storm Fay September 7, 2002
Gulf coast tropical storms were hardly a thought for the next 40 years. After we got married we moved to Austin, became school teachers and raised two fine kids. Work, kids, and soccer dominated our lives. There was no such thing as a weather channel and if a serious storm hits somewhere you just took any extra money in that months budget and donate to the Red Cross. The next time a Tropical system touched our lives was when tropical storm Fay hit somewhere in the Corpus Christi area and moved through Central Texas causing wide spread flooding. We had actually been in Belize waters for our second Charter Boat sailing adventure where that tropical wave formed and headed for Texas. It was just a two day rain event for us and did not hamper our adventure at all. But our first sailboat was on Canyon Lake Tx and the lake flooded July 5th 2002. See: http://www.cnn.com/2002/WEATHER/07/05/texas.flooding/index.html The water spilled over the spillway causing extreme damage along the Guadalupe river neighborhoods below the spillway. We belonged to the Hill Country Yacht Club where some member homes were flooded out. I volunteered a couple of days to go help them. It is a depressing sight with long streets of homes where everything that was inside was being carried out to the curbside including ripping out drywall up to the water line. On the street where I was working on the homes only one side of the street was flooded. From that moment on I became aware of the 100 year flood zone maps in Texas. The problem was that the homes where I was working were all above that line. The flooding was so serious that it actually changed the course of the Guadalupe River flooding homes that were a mile from the original river. From this moment on our awareness of Atlantic Tropical Cyclones became to develop, especially since sailing was becoming a major pastime for us.
Hurricane Dolly July 23,2008
We were having so much fun in the Pacific Northwest buying our cruising vessel and preparing her for the trip back to Texas, Dolly was barely on our screen. The storm made landfall in South Padre, Texas and was a Cat 1 so it did not concern our destination of Kemah, TX. We were aware of Dolly but Wand'rin Star took most of our attention. The trucker reported heavy rains along the route to Kemah, now I know what caused the cover we had on the deck mast hole to blow off and allow rain water in.
Hurricane Gustav August 25, 2008
Even though Gustav threatened the Texas Coast the hurricane moved East and made Landfall in Louisiana. It did provide a hurricane drill for us though. Our boat was still in the yard and Big John called me and told me they would be putting her back in the water immediately. I was hoping she would be able to ride out the storm on the hard but the big money boats had all the spots reserved. They put the boat in the water and had a crew work nonstop until all my work orders were finished. I had to immediately move the boat to South Shore Harbor by myself. Nothing like learning how to single hand a 42' vessel on the fly.
Hurricane Ike September 2008
A couple of days before we sailed our just purchased Endeavour 42 "Wand'rin Star" to Port Townsend some guy on the docks at Liberty Bay Marina in Poulsbo, WA said "Do Not take that boat to Texas!. There are Hurricanes down there! We just smiled and sailed away to Port Townsend where the boat would be de-commissioned for the trip by truck to Kemah, TX. The boat arrived at South Texas boat Yard in Kemah in late August 2008 for re-commissioning and about $10K of restoration and upgrade work. Given that Hurricane season had already begun I found the one marina known to be a Hurricane hole on Clear Lake, South Shore Harbor. It was surrounded by four story condos, resort, and business buildings.That soothsayer in Liberty Bay had it right. The eye of Hurricane Ike passed right over the mast of Wand'rin Star. Ike was forcasted early to head toward Corpus Christi, TX We co-owned a Mustang Island condo with our sons family. I drove down to the condo from Austin, stopped at Home Depot in Corpus to load up plywood and spent a day boarding up the windows and doors of the condo. I then drove up the coast to Kemah and stripped the deck of Wand'rin Star. I put lots of lines on the vessel and then headed back to Austin the day before the storm hit. That next night we sat up and watched the weather channel. We saw Mike Seidel get blown into the bushes of the Holiday Inn where he was reporting from. That hotel was directly across Clear Lake from South Shore Harbor.
The very next day I jumped into the little truck that can and drove through The craziest scene I have witnessed as an adult. Thousands were still evacuating the Houston area headed the other way. Every gas station coming out of Houston was slammed. I managed to get into the rest room of one but decided I had enough gas to make Houston so I drove on. I found a shell station open and was able to drive right up to the pump. I filled up and bought some water and snacks. The roads were clear enough for me to make my way all the way to South Shore Harbor, it was a sunny day, cooler than normal.South Shore Harbor lived up to its reputation, Every boat in that marina made it through. I checked on Wand'rin Star and everything seemed fine. Lots of debris in the water everywhere though. It was a curious thing that some owners had left their entire cockpit enclosure up, but those who just had a dodger or bimini had them blown out.
I drove straight over to Jim's boat, a 36' Erickson. I had to walk through lots of mud and debris with nails and other sharp hardware to avoid. Death and destruction of the marina and most of the boats were in every direction. Jim's boat was sitting there in his slip as if nothing had happened. He even left his head sail on the furler and it was OK??? I immediately called Jim up and told him to not change one thing about how he was living his life. To the Starboard side and just aft of "Apotheker" was sunk boats, to the Port was a boat that had the hull and deck separated from the constant beating against the dock and another boat. Two days after Ike, Home Depot opened their doors. The entire Coastal community went straight to work with quite determination to get life back to normal as soon as possible. That Texas spirit is undeniable.
We waited until December to move the boat down the inter-coastal waterway to her home slip in Corpus Christi Marina, a three day trip that took 11 days due to fog. There was still significant debris in Galveston Bay and the inter-coastal that we had to be constantly on the look out for.
Hurricane Ida November 10, 2009
Ida made landfall in Alabama. Even though this storm was miles away, we had already become members of the Gulf Coast boaters community. Our first intro to this community was in Kemah, TX when we were shopping for our cruising vessel. Hurricane season was full on that September afternoon in 2007 when we met with Captain Bill at the Sundance Grill during happy hour to pick his brain about boats and cruising the Texas coast. We sat at the only spots left at the bar. The weather channel was on the big screen TV and every person in the bar was intensely watching the progress of then Tropical Storm Humberto which later developed into a weak Hurricane making landfall at High Island, Texas East of Galveston Bay. We had our own agenda with Captain Bill but I will never forget the feeling in that room as the third largest private boating community in the US was contemplating the next Tropical Cyclone to affect their piece of paradise. That was now our community of Gulf Coast Sailors and thanks to the weather channel, anytime a depression formed anywhere in the Caribbean and South Atlantic we were fully engaged.
Tropical Storm Hermine September 2010
Hermine was on the radar for sure but did not develop into a hurricane but we were amazed that even though it entered Texas near Brownsville it still affected the tides in Corpus Christi Bay. This was the first time for us to see seawater on the roads out to the T-heads in the marina.
Tropical Storm Don July 2011
Even though this one made landfall around South Padre we were all watching. This system ran smack dab into a persistent High over Texas that was causing record droughts in the state. As soon as this system touched the Texas coast all the moisture was immediately sucked out and the storm almost immediately dissipated. Jim Cantore was posted up in South Padre and we all witnessed the storm literally whisping away into nothing but dry heat in a matter of a few moments. Jim Cantore was dumbfounded, he did not know what to say. We began our Cruise First of Nov. The lasting effects of the August 2005 Hurricane Katrina began to show up as soon as we entered Louisiana's inter-coastal waterways. The damage was prevalent almost all the way to Florida along the coast.
Tropical Storm Debbie June 2012
Debbie was the earliest formed stormed ever. We were in Tampa at West Shore Yacht Club Marina. It was a gated community on the far East end of Tampa Bay with excellent docks and a huge concrete bulkhead around the entire marina. We had a full grasp of Gulf coast living and even though there were so many beautiful marinas all around Tampa Bay we had no problem sailing right past those marinas that had the best view of paradise. We just wanted a fortress to hide out in until hurricane season was over. It wasn't that bad, this marina had all the amenities one could ask for. We had already stayed aboard during an unnamed storm here and so this time we decided to just take a trip to visit Orlando during Debbie. We had fun in the rain at SeaWorld and other attractions in Orlando. We returned to Wand'rin Star a fw days later and all was good.You can see the details of this time by clicking on 2012 in the right hand sidebar and you can read the blog post about the storms that had our attention. We have known more than a few cruisers who continued to cruise through paradise during Hurricane season. This risk was to great for us. We would rather find safe harbor and stay put till the storms are over. I felt it is a crap shoot to continue on. Many just make sure they are aware of any nearby Hurricane holes and hope they are able to duck in if one comes their way. There are so many variables that are completely out of your control so we had no problem just enjoying where we were. We did experience a few Florida thunderstorms at anchor and those are more than enough to handle, believe me.
2013 and later
We sailed our boat back across the Gulf of Mexico in May of 2013 from St.Petersburg, FL. We had an incredible 7 day voyage that could not have been better, excellent winds and seas. We thought we would be in Seattle for 6 months but now it has been over 4 years and have moved on past the Gulf coast by selling our beloved Wand'rin Star and buying our Puget Sound Vessel SNOWBALL. We continued to monitor Atlantic Tropical Systems since it took us a while to get to the point of actually selling Wand'rin Star. Naturally our life in the Pacific Northwest has taken over our daily lives and the thought of Tropical Cyclones has been a diminishing concern. Until Harvey.
Watching Harvey, then Irma, Then Maria. Watching all this from long distance has been gut wrenching to say the least. We have so many friends all along the Gulf Coast communities and the Caribbean islands almost all the way to Trinidad. Harvey made us sick, and Irma more than doubled the anguish for these communities. I think it is better to be in the communities during these times than not. When your in the community you can share the pain, you can go help, you have mutual support systems. There is no one that we know up here that can fully identify with these events. The only relief is when the storm ends and the recovery and rebuilding process can begin. We know how resilient these communities are and they will do everything in short order to get their lives back to normal. They are tough and they are strong. They come together and help goes in every direction.
I am currently batting 900 for friends who have had their vessels in the path of Harvey, Irma, and/or Maria. Including the Corpus Christi/Port Aransas area, Houston/Galveston Bay area, St Petersburg/Tampa Area, Punta Gorda area, Marathon and Key West Area, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, St. Lucia. One friend in Port Aransas lost their sailboat.