Monday, August 27, 2012


Hilton Garden Inn
Calabasas, CA

Not long after I finished installing the hurricane shutters, the 11 AM update showed tropical storm Isaac on a direct path from Key West to New Orleans. While I was certainly relieved to get that news I wondered if I had wasted my time putting the boards up on the windows.  But when I stopped to remember that the post hurricane threat includes the possibility of tornadoes I realized I had made the right call.

On Sunday afternoon into Sunday evening we received light rains and increasing winds but nothing that I would describe as remotely dangerous.  One interesting side note was that the afternoon Low tide on my canal was extremely low.  It looked more like a January winter tide than an August summer tide.  A few hours earlier I had placed two anchors on my floating dock in order to secure it from the rising tide but when I went out to look later the floating dock was high and dry on the floor of the canal.  No harm, no foul it would be just fine when the water returns.

Sunday night we slept very well knowing that we were secure.  Another named storm had come and gone from Southwest Florida.

On Monday I awoke at 4 AM and prepared for my business trip in California. I drove to the Tampa airport at 6 AM and there was very little traffic and very light rain on interstate 75.  The Tampa airport was like a ghost town. The TSA agents outnumbered the passengers.  My first flight, from Tampa to Denver was half empty. I got the entire front row to myself and enjoyed the space.

My Denver to Los Angeles flight was very crowded.  I will be here in Southern California for three days.  Thursday morning I fly back home.  I'm hoping to get some fishing done this Saturday.

Sunday, August 26, 2012


Home in Port Charlotte
Tropical Storm warning issued
76* at wake up

This is not the Isaac I had in mind.

Between work and storm preparations I have neglected my blog.  Here's the latest:

TS Isaac has winds of 65 MPH and it departs Cuba and sets its sights on the Florida Keys. It is expected to achieve hurricane strength in the next 24 hours.  The current path has it tracking northwest through the Gulf.  The closer north it come towards our area, the further west it is expect to move from our shore. This is good news.

I am scheduled to depart from Tampa to LAX tomorrow at noon for a mandatory meeting at my corporate office. I invited my wife to join me but she declined. She is scheduled to work the next three days and doesn't feel the need to evacuate.  Neither of us expect the conditions at our home to be much worse than what we experienced with TS Debby a few weeks ago.  We had gusty winds, 5" of local rain and a 2'-3' storm surge; enough of submerge our boat dock.

This morning Port Charlotte is under a Tropical Storm Warning. This means we could experience Tropical Storm force winds (39-73mph) in the next 24 hours.  The areas approximately 75 miles south of us are under Hurricane Warning.  We have activated our hurricane plan.

Yesterday I got some help from my electrician neighbor, Steve, and we installed a 30 amp power receptacle next to my breaker panel.  This will enable us to use our generator to power our entire home from the breaker panel.  We won't be able to use the air conditioner or the stove/oven, however we did run a successful run of the following:

After turning off the main breaker, (never run a generator with a live main; you will energize the service lines to the street and if the service line is sending power to the home, you will blow your generator), we turned power back on, one breaker at a time, until we had all essential power running together.  We were able to have radios, TV's, ceiling and floor fans, lights, 2 refrigerator/freezers, our alarm system and even a vacuum running all at the same time.  Our Honda 7000 watt generator was a great investment.  Wiring directly to the breakers will keep us from having to run extension cords into the house and, other than a lack of AC, it will be life as usual.  This is critical, as my wife is going to be enduring this on her own.  I must say, I'd rather be here to take care of her and frankly, I'm disappointed I'm going to miss the excitement of the storm action.

Our generator test included experimenting with where we can safely place the unit.  Obviously the cost of such an item carries with it the threat of theft.  I had hoped to be able to place the generator at the driveway end of the garage and lower the garage door enough to prevent the unit from fitting beneath it.  We ran the generator and used a 4 gas detection meter to measure the levels of carbon monoxide in the garage.  They were at 90 parts per million; dangerous levels.  I placed a floor fan to force the exhaust further out of the garage but it was not enough to render the garage safe from the deadly fumes.  Even though the air inside the home tested safe for the 20 minutes test, the risk is not worth the reward.  We decided the unit will be placed on the small patio off of the service door of the garage, leading to the side yard.  I bought two braided steel cables and monstrous padlocks to secure the generator when it's placed outside.  I also changed out the standard porch light on that side of the house for motion detector flood light as additional security.

We went through our breaker panel, switch by switch, to positively identify the assignment and house location of each area serviced by each breaker.  I then applied labels on each breaker.

We stocked up on 20 gallons of drinking water, 2 cases of vitamin water, a case of gatorade and of course beer and wine.  We have plenty of frozen and non-perishable food.  We filled our propane bottles if we need to cook on the grill. All vehicles are full of fuel and we have 20 gallons of gas on hand for the generator and cash on hand, in case ATMs go down for days.

The boat is on the trailer in the driveway.  This is preferred over having it on the lift during a storm.  The hurricane high tides could cause it to float off the lift or damage the lift cover.  I still need to secure all of the dock lines on my floating dock/maintenance barge.  (remember that blog story? It's one of the most popular chapters searched for on Google)

I think we are ready.  I will decide by mid afternoon today if I need to install the plywood shutters on our windows.  A category 1 hurricane 150 miles off our shore would not really require shutters here.  Very few homes and even fewer businesses in town are putting up shutters.

The Fort Myers airport has cancelled flights for tonight and tomorrow but so far there are no cancellations for Tampa.  My flight is scheduled to depart Monday at noon and return Thursday afternoon.

By the time I finished writing this, we have been placed under Tornado Watch for the next 48 hours.  This is standard procedure, as rotating winds cause friction with the land and the result can be tornados forming at any time.  Fort Myers Beach and the Gulf Barrier Islands are under mandatory evacuation.  This is also standard, as those home right on the Gulf water can take 6' of water into their property.

I shot a video of our home/lot to document it's condition prior to the storm.  To view this video, click here:

Here are some photos of our prep work:

new tags on the breakers
Inlet for generator to power breaker panel

128 pints of drinking water
Additional water totals 20 gallons

Sunday, August 19, 2012


Home in Port Charlotte
High of 90

On Saturday, my friend Al and I went fishing offshore. This time we took Al's 23 foot Bayliner walk around. The marine weather forecast was excellent, calling for 1 foot seas and winds around 5 to 10 mph. This could not have been more in accurate.

Overnight thunderstorms had churned up the seas and waves were more like 2 to 3 foot with the occasional five footer thrown in for good measure. The ride out was very uncomfortable. By 10:00 AM I was wishing I had stayed home for the day to rest. After a work week that found me in six states in four days, getting beat up at sea was not my idea of a fun Saturday. However we figured that these unexpected seas were from some unexpected thunderstorms and after they passed, so would the rough water.

We fished a few holes between five and 7 miles offshore and didn't have much luck except Al one nice flounder. By 2 PM the seas started to smooth out and the storms had moved onshore, away from us.

23 miles offshore, we anchored down in 90 feet of water. At 3 PM, as if someone had flipped a switch, the bite turned on. Over the next 90 minutes we caught red grouper, Vermillion snapper, Lane snapper, yellowtail snapper, grunts, sharks, romora, grey triggerfish, Porgie and lots of baitfish, which we proceeded to fillet and release.

For a short while every single cast was resulting in fish. When we dropped the bait overboard it would take a few seconds for it to get 90 feet down but as soon as we closed the bail on the reel, the rod was getting tugged immediately. It's moments like these that make fishing addictive. In fact it's not even fishing... it's catching!

By 6:30 PM we knew it was time to pull up anchor and make the long run back to shore. The ride back in was not nearly as rough as the ride out, although the chop did pick up the closer we got to shore. We got the boat back on the trailer right at 8 PM as the sun was going down.

All of the keepers had been placed on ice while we were fishing so everything remained fresh to be filleted the next morning.  As I write this on Sunday afternoon, my wife and I are preparing to enjoy grouper fish tacos for dinner tonight. We will compliment the tacos with a special wasabi lime sauce, from a recipe shared by my brother Mike.

Enjoy the photos below. The one that looks like a ghost cloud rising over the gulf was quite interesting to see.
He must have been a friendly ghost, as the lightning stayed well clear of us.

Ghost of fishermen past?

Night shot of all of our keepers

4 Vermillion Snapper, 2 Lane Snapper; one pound is a common size


Red Grouper

He just found out the menu
Sunday dinner: blackened Grouper, lemon pepper Lane Snapper tacos with  homemade wasabi lime sauce

Grouper taco with wasabi lime sauce

Saturday, August 4, 2012


On vacation in Phoenix, AZ
high of 111*

Ernesto has been joined in the Atlantic by Tropical Storm Florence.  Ernesto has gained in strength with sustained winds over 60 MPH, while Flo is just getting going at 40MPH.

The forecast tracks of each are posted below showing the cone of uncertainty.
Neither of these storms is predicted to directly impact Florida.

The weather in Phoenix has been just as oppressive as I remember.  Highs above 110* just plain hurt to be outside.  South Florida has no bragging rights over Phoenix in the summertime.

We're going to get out of the heat tomorrow, as we head into the mountains to Strawberry, AZ to visit my Dad.  It is less than 2 hours away but about 20 degrees cooler up there.

Florence cone of uncertainty

Ernesto cone of uncertainty

Thursday, August 2, 2012


On vacation in Arizona
High of 108*

Tropical Storm Ernesto has formed in the Atlantic Ocean.  It is presently east of the BVI's at about 13*north.  It's current track should take it into the eastern Caribbean by the weekend and possibly into the Gulf of Mexico in a week or so.  It's winds are sustained around 50 MPH and I have the latest spagehetti plots posted here.  We are in Arizona on vacation but will return before the storm has a chance to arrive ahead of us.

Ernesto doesn't seem to be a huge storm but there is a new tropical wave of low pressure that is a few hundred miles behind him.  If development of this system occurs it will be named Florence.  This one seems to have the computer models more concerned.

I will post significant updates as they occur.