Beating the Storm

By , March 6, 2010

Yesterday morning in the outhouse I caught the marine weather forecast, as I do every day, on the crank radio we keep there. I was pretty happy. We’ve had a long period of calm, which has reduced our power use to essentials only, but recently the wind had come back. The night before a steady 20 knot southerly had charged the battery bank all night long, giving us just the right kind of power for a sustained charge. The last forecast had suggested the day would bring 25 knot winds, which would build to about 35 by evening. I planned to continue our charge through the day, then shut the generator down before bedtime.

My complacency changed with the new forecast: 30 knots in the morning, building to 50 knots from the south, with 10 foot seas.

No time to lose! As soon as I entered the cabin, I recruited Michelle to help me shut down the wind generator. She stood at the brake switch, I stood at the window, directing and counting down the seconds until full stop.

If we’ve managed at all to predict our weather based on day-to-day observation, it’s to guess with a fair amount of certainty that whatever conditions they call for will arrive earlier than forecasted. The generator can handle 50 knots pretty well, but with a good charge, there’s no need to leave it running, and it’s no fun trying to shut the machine down in high winds.

After that, I was at a bit of a loss. I’d intended to go cut another dead fall for firewood, but in high winds, that becomes problematic. One doesn’t feel secure standing on a steep-edged ridge trail looking straight up at thin trees, over 100 feet tall, whipping wildly back and forth over one’s head. Nor does felling a tree aimed for a specific spot work well when the wind’s thrashing wildly. The cliff at the southern edge of our beach sends erratic gusts up through the forest in strange williwaws that rise from below rather than descending from above. It’s a vertiginous job, all in all. The wind-tossed sawdust getting in my eyes doesn’t improve anything, either. Nor did the periodic sideways snow flurries.

These condition make the fire seem cozier, a cup of cocoa more inviting. But, as usual, I got up and out, trying to beat the coming storm to get a few more rounds of wood under cover.

Aly and I felled a small tree—about two or three days of solid burning—and I got it bucked, chopped, and stowed. We even got the pile tarped to prevent getting flocked. We got it finished before lunch, and before the storm moved in. That gives us a feeling of accomplishment. The cocoa tastes a bit better that way!

Leave a Reply

Panorama Theme by Themocracy