Thursday, August 02, 2012

You Can't Reason with the Hurricane Season

While hurricane season "officially" began June 1st, it is September that is the month that keeps most cruisers and Caribbean locals on their toes, for this is the month that, historically, packs a punch in the form of tropical waves, storms and - of course - hurricanes.

Last year, Scott and I decided to spend hurricane season in Grenada.  There were a couple reasons for this: first of all, Grenada is a magnificent island that has plenty to offer the live-aboard cruiser during those hot, muggy months of idleness.  Secondly, it is considered out of the hurricane box.  Discovered in the 1970's by Paul Hebert, this "box" (one of two in the Caribbean sea) is an area covering 335 square miles where most hurricanes that continue to Florida tend to pass through.  The key word is most.  Need I remind anyone of Hurricane Ivan in 2004?

As of yesterday afternoon - there was a storm brewing out in the Atlantic that had a 70% chance of becoming a Tropical Storm Ernesto (it has since become "Tropical Depression 5" and is expected to reach Tropical Storm Status tonight) and a similar chance of passing directly over Grenada.  Our former home, the Port Louis Marina set into motion their hurricane action plan and people were getting ready for a potential hit.  While this development was not unheard of, it was definitely unusual.  Usually storms head North.  Usually they track clear of Grenada.  Usually we don't need to worry.  Sigh.  Weather, however, has a way of throwing curve balls at us; harsh reminders that we are just passengers and not the drivers of this big round bus.

Not going to lie, being prone to worry myself, I was very nervous.  Not only do we have many friends in Grenada, but Scott is down there and scheduled to sail with twelve passengers and his crew of six on Friday, the day this storm is expected to hit.  Luckily, Scott is not prone to worry. "There is no fear in a Captain.  You just do what needs to be done" was his response to my anxious text yesterday morning.   The company he works for has procedures in place for situations like this and, if necessary, they will delay departure while Scott and the crew storm prep the ship and bring her to her storm mooring in a protected anchorage.  Safety is always first at sea.  I am confident he will be fine, he is an excellent captain with a very experienced and competent crew.  But still...

This, my friends, is one of the down sides of cruising.

Many (but not all!) cruisers in the area prepared for the storm.  The prudent ones removed their sails, doubled up lines, added chafe protection and secured the decks, and the really prudent ones even tucked themselves up into the mangroves.  While the current models suggest this storm will miss Grenada entirely - which is a huge relief - all of that preparation was not done in vain, for when it comes to life afloat, it is always better to be safe than sorry.  Hoping those that do lie in the storm's path are safe.

"In a storm at sea, luck is highly biased to the sailor who has a plan." 

In case you are curious - weather sites we like and use are the following:

When we are underway and without internet - we love the weather reporting/routing from Chris Parker over the SSB (single side band long-range radio).


Mike said...

Thanks for the link to our blog, Brittany. Because we did all that work yesterday we were able to relax and play some volleyball today, enjoying the nice weather before tomorrow's forecasted squalls. As for Scott, Diamante and the guys at Port Louis, I'm sure they'll all be just fine!


Deb said...

So I see you guys are not superstitious since Scott is sailing on a Friday...

S/V Kintala

Windtraveler said...

@mike- you're welcome
@deb- the company Scott works for makes the schedule, of course it's up to Scott as captain to make the final call, but if the weather is good - superstitious or not - they leave on a Friday.

Cesar Buitrago said...

One can't say anything about hurricane. It can strike at any point of time. So the best way to keeping safe and protected is to be prepared for it.

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