Kids and Cyclones

20 Jan

“Are we really going to get a cyclone?  A real one?”  The girls looked at me with shining eyes, as though I had brought Christmas back eleven months early.
“Yep.”  I shoved the awning onto the spare bunk.  “It’s a real cyclone.  Tropical Cyclone June.”
“Tropical Cyclone Juin,” said Indy.
“Do we have to go to the cyclone shelter?” asked Stylish.
“Is the wind going to blow the boat over?” Indy made wind hands, puffing out her cheeks and destroying an imaginary fleet.
“Do we get to use the cyclone lines?”
“When is it going to get here?”
“Guys,” I said, pausing in my struggle with the awning, “it is a cyclone, but not a big one.  And it is going to pass to the west of us, so we should be just fine.  It is going to be pretty windy and rainy for a few days.  That’s it, probably.”
“Like New Zealand?”  Stylish made a face.
“But warmer.”
Their little shoulders slumped.  What a rip-off.  Here was a genuine, super-exciting natural disaster, and Mom was acting like it was just another day.  Parents don’t understand anything.

But they kept hoping.  Erik and I, meanwhile, were busy trying to get the sails down.  We didn’t expect Cyclone June to cause us much trouble, but still.  This was a good chance to get ready for the season,and better now than when things unexpectedly take a turn for the worse.

Watching us got old fast.  So the kids appropriated the hammock, made themselves into a Chinese dragon, and waited for the cyclone prep to become more fun.

Our main is too big to fold on the sidedeck without tearing it (and our marriage) to shreds.  We all trooped down the dock to a sufficiently dog-poop-less area.

The wind was picking up, so we needed the girls for their skills as giant paperweights.

But as soon as we set them free, they started running around in circles again, waving palm fronds and climbing the green buoy that serves as a jungle gym to the marina’s smaller residents.

“Is the cyclone coming now?” asked Indy as she ran past.
“Not yet.”
It was worse than a long car ride.

And finally, we were done.  Papillon was naked.  Extra battens and spars lashed to the deck.  Sails below.  Lines tied off.  All of us were ready for Cyclone June.

…which turned out to be the non-event we predicted.  The system stayed far enough offshore that we had steady winds, but it hardly gusted above 30 knots.  There was a lot of rain, but it is so warm here that it was a minor inconvenience.  We stayed in, watched movies, ate a lot, and did our normal stuck-inside things.

But long before the baby cyclone had arrived, the girls had lost interest.  Their first real cyclone, and nothing happened.

As far as they are concerned, we cried wolf.  If a real cyclone comes, I am going to have such a hard time convincing them to take it seriously.


  1. Amy Schaefer

    Hi, Randall. It is good to hear from you! I’m with you on cyclones and hurricanes: no, thanks. Sadly, we have another one coming at us next weekend. I’ve spent the morning wrapping tires to use as supplemental fenders. And, once again, I hope I will never have to use them.

  2. Randall Phillips

    Hello Amy. My wife Debbie & I met you in Charleston harbor in 2010 when you were beginning your adventure. We moved here from Louisiana where we went through a number of hurricanes including Katrina. Tell the girls that a cyclone going directly over you will be 30 minutes of excitement followed by four hours of terror. I was just like them wanting the experience but once was enough.

  3. Amy Schaefer

    Hi, Bob. As long as they are warm, calm rains, then it sounds like you are in a good spot right now.

    I agree, Michael – I was quite happy for this to be a non-adventure. But the girls still feel ripped off.

    Thanks, Sean! And a happy 2014 to you, too.

  4. Michael Smith

    Well, speaking from the relative safety of chilly Toronto (no monster storm, but a brass monkey would be in danger of singing soprano today), I’m glad it passed off without incident. Those are the best kinds of adventures.

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