As tropical storm Isaias began its milk run from port to port up the Eastern Seaboard, all us disaster preparedness geeks and hurricane nerds started watching the websites and the radar and the rats-nest of track maps, looking like such pretty coloring-books pages albeit crayoned in by a drunk with arthritic knuckles. The resemblance to throwing spaghetti at a wall is not lost on those with a professional association with those highly speculative, computer-generated track images. And yes — the consensus is that the “European model” is often the best one, but there must be some reason why there are still dozens of others beside it. The tracks, the cones, and the colorful bands are mere probability — all imagination and statistics, calculus and differential equations and the knock-hockey of high- and low-pressure systems, and there is no way — no way — to really “know” exactly where and when the storm will hit. It isn’t quite chaos, but perhaps “The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle meets Tommy the Pinball Wizard.” Well, OK: maybe not that. In any event, nobody who digs into the science of our atmosphere comes away saying, “Oh, yes; the cyclone will make its intentions clear.” Nobody says that. To suggest that meteorologists (“Those guys in their three-piece suits!”) are holding out on us, or hanging around the water cooler when they should be working, or that it’s all because there are no windows at the weather bureau office — that is not, I will insist, the problem.

As I have nattered on about before in these pages, our fair Matinicus Isle gets a state vehicle ferry roughly 36 times a year, and one of our scheduled trips was Wednesday last. You may have since moved on to other worries but recall that early last week many of us were battening down the proverbial hatches. The storm called Isaias did little to attract attention in these parts except by the frequent and regular butchering of its name, but we did not know that we’d get off so easy. We did not — we could not — know until fairly late in the game that Isaias would decide that Vermont was more to his liking. We expected, if nothing more, at least rough seas.

To be honest, I was hoping for rain.

The captain of the port of Rockland, who would also have been the captain of the ferry vessel Everett Libby on her deep-sea voyage to Matinicus, decided that it would serve the interest of good sense and basic safety to postpone hauling a boatload of trucks through a hurricane’s residual swell.

Now, here’s the thing: we’ve (or at least I’ve) been pestering the ferry service to make their go/no-go decisions for Matinicus a little bit ahead of time. We (the regulars, and I am a regular because I drive the garbage truck) have asked for enough advance warning that a trucker laden with other people’s Sheetrock or some hapless out-of-towner could make some arrangements. To cancel a trip on account of weather 15 minutes before a scheduled departure time, while everybody is lined up at the terminal with ticket in hand, leaves the drivers of vehicles large and small wondering what is Plan B? Under normal, non-COVID circumstances, by way of example, last week would have been Lobster Festival. Somebody driving into Rockland with plans to take the ferry to Matinicus, upon discovering the ferry canceled, would no way, no how, find an available hotel room.

So, in order to make the decision about our ferry, potentially out there in the bay heaving back and forth with trucks sliding sideways and people uttering coarse oaths, the captain quite wisely ruled, “We’ll postpone a day.” That sealed it; Isaias turned inland and set his sights on Mt. Washington, where it blew 147 miles an hour. In the outer reaches of Penobscot Bay the seas were up but not dangerous, noisy overnight but unremarkable, and in retrospect the hurricane was a pooch. Sorry.

I always assumed that if anybody needed a crystal ball on their desk it was the air service over at the Knox County Airport, because folks unfamiliar with Visual Flight Rules aviation are forever asking them to gaze into the future. Their particular nemesis is the fog — mercurial, spiteful, no respecter of plans and defiant of all attempts at clairvoyance. The dispatcher is asked to guarantee a flight six days hence, as though that were even possible. A shiny globe of perfect rock quartz obtained from the estate sale of some necromancer or prestidigitator might be just the ticket. I will suggest that the Maine State Ferry Service get one, too. Until then, let me assert that the ferry service captain did the right thing in postponing the trip even if it didn’t turn out to be a bad storm. Who was to know?