Hurricane Linda

We are still in Puerto Escondido, or more accurately Nopolo. We have been taken in by a couple I met when I drove from La Paz to San Diego to meet Josh and sail the coast. She and her husband retired here and they have been a literal port in the storm for us.

Hurricane Linda blew by the past two days. Even though it was hundreds of miles away and off the Pacific coast, we had winds up to 30 mph and bands of torrential rain. To let a little air flow through the boat, I had left the hatches secured but cracked, and when I woke to a downpour at 4am at the house here, I couldn’t sleep again until I checked on the boat. We drove to the harbor, and Carlos, a man who owns a boat repair business there, generously gave us a ride in his panga out to Oleada, since the wind would have been too strong to row against. As soon as we left the dock, we got soaked with sideways, driving rain. Amazingly, the boat was dry inside, even in the crossways downpours. We closed everything tightly anyway and returned to shore. Meanwhile, the streets flooded in our friends’ neighborhood, and we marveled at how much money had been thrown into nice pavement but no drainage.

The whole experience made me realize just how different a hurricane feels as a boat owner. They used to feel exciting, even magical, growing up in New Hampshire. Now they still feel that way, but with the heavy twins of worry and waiting. Despite a comfortable bed in air conditioning for the first time in three weeks, neither Josh nor I slept much during the storm.

There is another potential hurricane building off the coast of Guatemala, so we could leave and head north this weekend, but more likely (and depending on the predicted track for the storm) we will stay here if it looks like it will come anywhere close. There is another safe harbor 234 nautical miles to the north, but we are not in the business of trying to outrace hurricanes, so we will wait and see. In the meantime, Josh is repairing my battered paddleboard, and I have been writing, trying to catch up with a backlog of photos, video, and audio, interviewing employees of the national park here, and learning about Mexico’s Climate Change Law of 2012.

About the Author

In a first for ICWA, Jessica and her partner Josh Moman will conduct a seafaring Fellowship, exploring adaption to climate change in coastal communities in México, Central America and the Caribbean. Sailing the Pacific coast through the Panama canal and into the Caribbean on her 39-foot sailboat Oleada, Jessica will focus on how communities experience climate change impacts. Hazards such as erosion, storm surge, and the spread of disease can be consequences of sea level rise and sea temperature change, and Jessica will examine how these changes tear or build the social fabric. With her background as a research scientist, she has worked as a field biologist at the largest thermal solar plant in the world, mapped renewable energy development for 23 countries in Eastern and Southern Africa with the Lawrence Berkeley Lab, supported satellite-based forest mapping in the Andes-Amazon Region with the Carnegie Institution for Science, and authored multiple reports and user guides to translate science into digestible instruction. With a desire to better connect the science of climate change with stories on-the-ground, she plans to use her mapping experience to build vulnerability maps of the coast while gathering accounts of change and adaptation. Jessica was awarded a Fulbright fellowship to document climate impacts in México; she holds an Ecology degree from Brown University and an interdisciplinary MS from the Energy and Resources Group (ERG) at UC Berkeley, where she also studied video journalism. By harnessing wind and sun to travel, Jessica hopes to access remote locations, share the ocean-bound experience of local communities, and listen to and document the stories of climate adaptation with words, images, and video.