It has been more than a week since we started anticipating the arrival of Hurricane Dorian. At the time it was first announced, I was on vacation and enjoying the Gulf Shores area. I came home to prepare what was to be a minimal hurricane arriving a few days later. Fast forward in time: Dorian slowed, altered course and became the strongest hurricane in recent, recorded history. Initially they thought is was going to skirt the Bahamas and make direct landfall near my home. While we were worried, we were also prepared. We had supplies and we had the ability to evacuate if we needed to. Then the whole storm changed; weather can fool even the best computers and scientists, just another reason to understand that we are not the ones in charge on this planet.
Hurricane Dorian shifted to pass over the Bahamas and turned into a massive Category 5 hurricane, with wind gusts to 200 MPH. More concerning than just the wind was the predicted storm surge heading toward the Bahamas; 20 feet or more was predicted. The storm slowed and sat over the Bahamas for more than 24 hours. Early videos gave those of here some hope; hope that the effects may not be as bad as we anticipated. That hope did not last and more reports made it to us.
I have been sitting here at the house, waiting for Dorian to take its new path, passing along the coast of Florida. The rain has arrived and so has the wind; still we were spared the major blow that was initially expected. News reports have started coming in from the Bahamas and the devastation is unfathomable. I have heard that half of my friends are safe and they were able to survive the onslaught. While that brings a little relief, I still have not heard from others. No one knows if there is anything left of Abaco Lodge or the great people who were there. Video coming in has only made the feeling of dread worse. We pray that they are all safe and survived, yet we know they will have a tremendous rebuild ahead of them. I sit here, thinking of Travis Sand's smiling face, as he lifted his first redfish on the bow of my boat. The way we bonded over a couple of days of fishing and the friendship that has grown over the years. Just last year I was supposed to be on the bow of his skiff, now I wonder if that will ever happen.
Despite these questions, the fishing community is one of the strongest families you will ever meet. Plans have already been put in place to send help and donations. Even as rains pound us here in Florida, we are chomping at the bit to get to the islands and help. Boat companies, tackle companies, accessory companies and now even possible cruise lines are lining up to help in any way they can. It is really amazing to see. I myself have wondered, what can I do, besides take donations to collection sites for those who can't, spread the word of each and every opportunity to help, and pray. So, I have decided to put my money where my mouth is too.
For every trip that is booked this month, half of the trip will go directly to the following relief efforts: https://www.gofundme.com/f/abaco-lodge-hurricane-dorian-relief-efforts
If you do not wish to book a trip, then please consider donating to the cause! Trips do not have to used this month, just booked and paid for; there will be no expiration date for trips made during this offer and gift certificates are available too.