Hurricane Dorian

Though the storm’s impact will be felt for years to come in the Bahamas, hurricane Dorian has left us with little negative to report. Honestly the only thing is that, Nigel, our beloved new lime tree was felled. Not sure if it had an issue with the trunk, or if we didn’t have it staked well enough. Someday I will get a real lime tree to grow big and tall and give me lots of limes.

I have updated the hurricane guide with a few minor pointers. One piece of advice I have in there is to do a practice run of your shutters at least once to make sure everything fits right. Sure enough, I had put it off and ended up needing a lot of work to get everything in place. There is a screen that goes across the back of the porch. The anchors in the pool deck were all completely full of crud. Some even had broken off studs that required me to drill them out.

I spent hours clearing them out with a pick and compressed air. Thankfully there was plenty of time to work on this. A Fast moving storm would have induced a bit more panic. The other issue was that the two screens used to come together into some kind of bar at the corner of the porch. That doesn’t exist anymore, and the screens don’t really mesh together.

I just used some rope to lace everything up, but it was a hokey solution. I am going to get some kevlar cord that doesn’t stretch and has a high test load to pull it all together next time.

Our shed seemed pretty well built, but I cut a piece of 2×4 and ripped an edge so it would go over the door threshold and push the door shut securely. I also marked where screws should go so as to best tie them into the frame of the ramp. This is easy to install and remove, and guarantees that the doors will stay shut.

While I waited out the storm I had a lot of time on my hands. I spent it putting all the hurricane hardware in order. It was in a loose bucket, and is now in organized bins. This has the bolts, nuts, anchors and install tools I need to put up the back screen. Including instructions would be good too!

Going through all the hardware I ended up throwing out more than half of it. Someone had used a #2 philips bit or something. The heads all had some damage, and many were heavily stripped out. Replacing this will mean an easier install next time.

Conclusion: If you haven’t checked the hurricane hardware for your house, assume something is going to be wrong with it. Even if you have, and it has been years, it is worth a check.

Smoked Bacon Hurricane Prep

Like a towel on an intergalactic trip, nothing says “I’m prepared for a hurricane” like hurricane rations. No hurricane rations are better than smoked bacon. I am taking Lucky’s thick cut peppered bacon and hickory smoking it at 325F. 30 or so minutes ought to do it.

Hurricane Dorian is right around the corner and we still don’t know if it will be standoffish or come up close and give us a big hurricane hug. As usual I have learned some lessons from this go around and will be updating the guide when it is all over. Hard to believe this picturesque landscape will soon harbor harsh winds and torrential rains. I hope everyone stays safe and sane through the ordeal. Good night and good luck!

Hurricane Season Start

Hurricane season hasn’t started yet, but we already have our first named storm of the year.  Happy hurricane season everyone!  As of writing this it is still subtropical (I guess for specific weather nerd reasons it isn’t called a tropical depression), but expected to become a tropical storm.  As a wise guide once stated, it is never too early to start thinking about getting yourself ready for the storm.

I went around and found a few minor issues that could be a big problem if a storm were to hit.  These are easy to do now when I have free time, but would be stressful to complete when a storm is coming.

First up on the list, my screened in porch is getting old and one of the vertical supports broke loose.  It doesn’t hold the roof up, there are 4×4 posts for that, but buffeting winds would do a lot more damage with this part flapping around.  A few right angle brackets and metal screws secured it in place.


Second, I have a set of areca palms that have gotten too close to the house.  I probably shouldn’t have planted them that close in the first place, and might cut them out completely when they start pushing out the fence.  For now, I like them, but need them to be away from the house.  Again, under normal storms they aren’t a problem, but heavy winds could whip those fronds around enough to do real damage to the corner of the roof.


Last but not least my poor fence had another post shear off.  Not sure why they all happen on just this one side, but they do.  The left picture shows a distinct bend.  As it turns out the most bent post is actually rock solid, just not straight.  The one closer to the camera has broken off at the ground.  I left the broken post in place and sank another one next to it.  Everything is much more solid.  Thats it for now.  Time to enjoy a margarita and hope we have quiet season.

Hurricane Shutters

As a wise hurricane guide once said, winter is a great time to think about hurricane season.  Two major issues were highlighted during our last Irma encounter.  Not being able to see out back was maddening, and I had no shutter plans for my garage window.

The window to my garage has a big honking AC unit in it for the summer.  The thing is too big and heavy to move when hurricanes come, so I need a custom shutter.  I wanted it to be made out of a single sheet of plywood, but the threaded studs are 4 feet apart at the outside edge.  I could have shifted the whole thing over, but instead I cut the sheet in half and did it in pieces.  It makes for an easier installation.

I used 3/4″ plywood which ended up being too thick, I couldn’t get enough purchase with the wing nuts.  I used a forstner bit to relieve the area enough for the nuts to hold.  Two cleats above the AC help stiffen the part and give a resting point for a center patch that ties the two halves together.

Everything got a coat of primer to make sure they stay in good shape while waiting out in the garage.  I reassembled everything to make 100% sure it all fit, and marked up some basic instructions.


20171231_114218On to the back porch.  I found polycarbonate panels that are similar to the metal ones we already have.  They don’t come in the right sizes, but with careful sawing they can be made shorter.  A center punch and 1/2″ drill bit put holes where you need them.  They aren’t as easy to see through as normal windows, but at least some light can get in and you could tell if the shed is still there or not.  Our back kitchen window has a full complement of clear shutters, and each back set of french doors has a single clear panel.

Hurricane Irma Update

Irma came and went and we are alive and well.  The battery box performed admirably, but didn’t provide enough cooling.  80+ degree days and nights with very high humidity meant we lost the fridge faster than I had hoped, and sleeping was very dreadful at best.  In the end we broke down and now own a generator and window shaker.

As always you learn a lot from these experiences.  I am no hurricane expert, but have gathered enough knowledge that I think a guide is in order.  For the leathered 3rd generation native Floridian, and the newcomer to our wondrous state.  Expect a guide to be posted in the coming weeks.

Until then my only projects this month have involved getting myself and others ready for the hurricane, and cleaning up afterwards.  Here is the pile of yard debris I have collected from the storm.  I still need to trim the palm tree on the left, and there is a lot of oak trimming that could go on near my shed.

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Hurricane Matthew Update

We had quite a storm pass through here recently.  Matthew was the highest wind hurricane I had ever dealt with, though not the biggest or most destructive.  Still, I am a home owner this time, so I have a lot of skin in the game.  The shutters went up, the yard was cleared, the bees were hunkered down, and we got out of dodge.

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The base is quite heavy due to the paver and amount of wood.  I threw another paver on top and strapped around everything so the total pile was tied together was over 100 pounds.


Post Storm

We evacuated to stay with friends, and came back to a yard that was a mess, but happy looking bees, and an in tact house.

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My fence repair from a few weeks back was perfectly timed.  No pickets were lost and the fence is still standing.  There is a new lean though.  Posts near the ones I repaired appear to be broken now.

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Instead of removing any of the posts like I did last time, I just put new ones in next to the old ones.  It doesn’t looks as good and is a bit lazy, but was a ton less work.

I might be able to work those old posts off at some point, but for now they were too well connected to the horizontal portions of the fence.  While I was at it I replaced some of the gate hardware that was in bad shape, added more connecting straps, and some anti-sag cables.  The cables were past due, the two doors have rhombused a bit and rub at the tops when trying to close.  Oh well, it ought to buy me another few years.

wp-1477097752621.jpgIn all, we are past the hurricane without any major issues.  Now if they could just come by and get the piles of yard waste.

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