Peril Before Panic

"They’re announcing an evacuation of the marina. It is not a drill.”

Del Viento- movie

Here is the movie set; Del Viento is just visible in the upper right, with her beige mainsail cover. The film is called Stonados and is “an epic disaster flick about the devastation caused by rock-spewing tornados.” Apparently, the story takes place in Massachusetts and our little place is doubling as Boston’s Harbor Walk. Michael Robertson

“Get up. Wake up. We’ve got to get off the boat now.”

I was smack in the middle of that final, pleasant half-hour of dreamy, near-consciousness sleep that life without an alarm clock affords me. Now I was abruptly fully conscious, trying to understand what I’d woken to. I called after Windy, “What did you just say? What’s going on?”

She was gone, out of bed like a flash, already in the aft cabin urging the girls awake with the same serious, insistent tone. “Girls! Get up, leave your PJs on, get your shoes on, we have to go now.” Then to me: “I don’t know. They’re announcing an evacuation of the marina. It is not a drill.”


“Who’s announcing…”

I have a strong aversion to over-reacting. When people around me freak out, I tend to polarize and go the opposite direction. You know that orchestra that played on as the Titanic met her fate? I could have been their leader—in denial as I slid into the icy ocean. It’s not because I’m Mr. Cool, but because I’m protecting my bizarre, deep-seated fear of panicking. It could be a good thing, but in my case, it means I often fail to react. Windy isn’t prone to panic, but she is usually prepared and always ready to act, “just in case.” Bless her heart.

In response to her sense of urgency, I wanted to push back, maybe talk this through before we jumped out of our warm beds and ran for our lives. But I roused myself and pulled on some pants, knowing I’d have to take her seriously before she would entertain my questions.


“Who’s announcing an evacuation?”

“I don’t know. I heard a loudspeaker, a bullhorn.”

“Are there emergency vehicles?”



Hmmm. There was an earthquake and tsunami warning the day before; I wondered if maybe this was another? Maybe a propane leak? Windy called down as she and the girls climbed out the companionway. “Are you coming?”

“Yeah.” I was putting my shoes on. I looked around and grabbed the camera, my wallet…my computer and left. Outside I could see Windy and the girls already off the docks and one-hundred yards down the boardwalk, talking with a group of people. I met them halfway back.


“I chewed out somebody,” Windy said. Apparently, our tiny marina in front of the Empress Hotel had morphed into a movie set overnight. People, trucks, and equipment were everywhere. “I think it was the director, I told him they should first notify those affected by their filming; they have no idea people live on these boats.”

Then the loudspeaker hailed again, this marina was being evacuated and this was not a drill. Giant fans blew dead leaves into a crowd of extras in front of the docks. On cue they pointed and ran together in fearful unison. It looked like panic to me.

“Let’s get back to the boat and make a nice breakfast for Eleanor,” turning to my newly nine-year-old girl in PJs: “Happy birthday Boo.”


I__n our twenties, we traded our boat for a house and our freedom for careers. In our thirties, we slumbered through the American dream. In our forties, we woke and traded our house for a boat and our careers for freedom. And here we are. Follow along at