(*More photos will be added later when our internet situation improves)
As the blog is a little behind lots of people have been checking to make sure that we haven’t been affected by Hurricane Irma, so I thought it was important to do a specific post on this now. Firstly we are currently in Grenada, which was approx. 300 miles South of where the storm first hit the Caribbean, therefore well away from any danger and a grate relief to us now Daisy Bean is on board.
No doubt you are all fixed to the news coverage showing this mammoth cyclone of devastation tearing through the Leeward Islands and up the East Coast of America. Irma is the strongest ever storm to form within the Atlantic before hitting the Caribbean. Everyone up and down the West Indies knew she was coming but I don’t think anyone had absolutely any idea of the shear volume of damage she was about to cause.
How we monitor hurricanes…..
Anybody who lives on a boat in the Caribbean during the hurricane season checks the weather EVERYDAY. There are a number of websites and facebook sites you can do this on as its good to have more than one source of information but the main one we use is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Hurricane Centre. They follow any tropical depressions that develop in the Atlantic, predicting when a storm will form and as soon as it does it is trailed by planes, penetrated and scanned by dropsondes and drones, analysed by satellites from space as well as equipment from the depths of the ocean. All the data is put into models that some clever science geek has developed to predict the track and intensity of the storms.
This allows us to follow every single one from the moment it starts as a tropical depression which can be days and sometimes even weeks in advance if it turning into a hurricane. We keep a close on eye on it so Simon and I can decide what pre-cautions we believe are required. For example if we expect to be in the vicinity of a low category tropical storm then any loose items outside would be stowed away or secured, we’d make sure the anchor is properly set with plenty of chain out to weigh us down and make sure no other boats are close in case the boat drags back or swings around in changing wind direction. If something stronger was coming with sustained very strong winds then we would probably head to either Carriacou and tie into the mangroves or to Marigot Bay, a protected bay known as a Hurricane Hole in Saint Lucia. If a high category ‘shit your pants’ Hurricane Bitch like Irma was coming then we would sail somewhere to get as far away from the fucking thing as possible! (excuse the language). It all really depends on where we are and the trajectory/ severity of the gale.
Our thoughts on Irma
It is no doubt just as hearting wrenching for you as it is for us to see the aftermath that Hurricane Irma has left behind. I don’t even know how to put into words what it like watching the destruction of these beautiful islands that have been our home on and off for the last 18 months. People we know have lost their boats, their livelihoods, their homes, their futures are uncertain, they have no water, no electricity, no food. It is just scary, how and where do you even start to begin rebuilding again.
We are hearing stories and viewing photographs and videos first hand on the various Caribbean cruising Facebook groups that we are members of. It is just shocking.
Back in April 2017 we spent 6 weeks anchored on the French side of St Martin often dinghying across the inside lagoon to Lagoonies on the Dutch side for happy hour beers. We past the boat yards, walked around the Marinas and up to the Fort, wondered around the market stools speaking to the vendors. Such a beautiful, lively and vibrant island, it’s hard to imagine that is it all gone. Not to mention the tiny island of Barbuda, (part of Antigua) which has been left with virtually its entire population homeless after being hit by the eye of the storm.
Latest on Hurricane Maria
Now the latest to hit is Hurricane Maria another category 5 with the eye of the storm aiming straight for Dominica, which is still recovering from Tropical Storm Erika in 2015. Just in case you didn’t know the strongest most dangerous winds of a Hurricane occur in the eyewall, however the eye itself remains eerily calm with the winds rotating around it. Anything the eye passes over will feel the full force of the storm, with a short period of calm to assess the damage before another wave of destruction is about to come. I am thinking of all those in its path and praying they came out safe but dread to think of what it going to be left behind once it has moved on. Another piece of Caribbean paradise reduced to ruins and many people homes destroyed. Again I am grateful to be in Grenada and just on the outskirts of Maria, we will see some bad weather and the South West anchorage will no doubt turn rolly when the usual Eastern winds change to Westerly’s but this is a very small price to pay compared to those further North and closer to dreaded eye.
Grenada is actually outside of the main hurricane belt and cruisers congregate here in the masses between July and October, for some its because their insurance only covers them to be outside of the danger zone and others feel safer being here. That’s not to say that Grenada doesn’t hit by Hurricanes, it just less likely however the first few storms of the season were aimed directly at Grenada. Luckily they were pretty mediocre and we were still making our way South so not near us.
It is amazing being part of such a big sailing community and everybody here has been pulling together to donate supplies such as food, water and building materials to help with the aid relief.
Hurricane Irma Charities
There are numerous charities raising money to help, below are 2 charities we support, which we believe will make a immediate difference. Please give what you can to help or alternatively donate to a charity of your choice, however do some research and make sure they are genuine. Also if you are donating items ensure these are useful as I have heard BVI is getting inundated with supplies they don’t need which is just adding the ever increasing problem of rubbish disposal on these tiny islands.
Antigua & Barbuda Red Cross
BVI Immediate Relief
More storms are yet to come, see link to article below