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how to handle storms and hurricanes in the BVI
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Link to this postPosted: Thu Mar 15, 2018 5:46 pm    Post subject: Note how to handle storms and hurricanes in the BVI

All we can share is how we handle sailing those wonderful BVI cruising grounds.

We book our two week BVI Sailing vacations in May....before hurricane season, We stay totally clear of the caribbean aug, sept, and oct. " September remember, October all over. " Actually the hurricane season can be from June to november.

Of course all of that is up to mother nature. She may rise up, and she may not.

May sailing, winds generally great 15 to 20 plus. We are generally double reefed ( smaller mainsail area ) and jib rolled into about a 110% lapper. Just the two of us on a 36 foot sailing vessel. Slightly heeled over, and a bit off the wind on a close close reach, no weather helm. longest passage is from Norman Island to Virgin Gorda Sound. About 5 hrs since we have to tack a few times. Love it.

Temps are comfortable, board shorts and bathing suits.

We have have had passing tradewind showers out at sea, and we strip down to shorts, and get a great fresh water shower up on deck. No need to use the precious on board boat supply.

One one earlier trip, I was leading a flotilla of about 8 or 10 boats, we all were in Virgin Gorda Sound, and could see the bad weather and feel the winds increasing. We stayed put at various safe anchorages in vigin gorda sound. No one even went ashore.

There were some pretty good sized wind waves, white caps in the sound. Everyone stayed on board, and had picked up a mooring or anchored using two bow anchors. We were offf Saba Rock, next to the Bitter End Y.C. Others were in more protected areas.

Some boaters, not in our group, decided to take their dink ashore, not a good plan. Another fast para sail power launch boat next to us sank at its mooring.

Sometimes , no matter how well you plan, mother nature can rise up and whack you soundly.
Our little flotilla did just fine, and posted watches thru the night to make sure we were staying put. We used double bow mooring lines as well.

Those land based, no worries, they just got a bit wet and hair mussed, walking thru the rain and wind to the bar.

If you are down there during hurricane season, well , if we were, and a cat 1 to cat 5 hurricane was reported on its way, we would get the heck out of there. Boat or Land Based. Come back another time. That will not happen since we stay clear during hurricane season. Just one of our personal rules....not necessarily that of others.

Last May trip the wind was howling out of the S.E. We had sailed from Marina Cay to Jost Van Dyke.
Every anchorage or mooring field on Jost was open to the wind and the seas. We sailed by all of them and even went into great harbor to check it out, Nope, I did not like being in an open road stead, so change of plans. Sailed over to Cane Garden Bay, tortola, and was totally protected my the hills. Calm easy night.

This was not a storm situation, just strong winds and seas.

Party light was lit at Myetts.

Some one posted a request on what to do during storms and hurricanes.

Our plan is to avoid them when possible.

Sometimes that idea does not work out...... as when we were in Gustavia Harbor St, Barts and everyone was surprised by near hurricane force winds from a tropical depression that formed in the area.

No one , the harbor authorities, the charter bases, local population or sailors or fishermen had a clue.

But, that is another story for another time.
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Link to this postPosted: Wed Mar 21, 2018 10:15 am    Post subject: Note handling storm and hurrricane force winds.....St. Barts

This was time back back, and Erica and I were bare boating a Centurian 37 sloop. Very nice vessel, Just the two of us. A company called Sun Charters were out of Oyster Bay, St. Martin.

We do not motor unless there is no wind, but we had a good breeze about 18 to 20 . Very nice sail and we entered Gustavia Harbor , St Barts, about 2 pm or so.

The cruising guide advised mooring , well up into the head of the harbor. on the starboard side of the harbor. Well, all of the moorings were taken, and other boats had anchored in he mooring field close to the moored vessels. Not us, we did not wish to play bumper boats at 2 am in the morning.

So, we elected to anchor on our portside of the harbor in about 15 feet of water. We laid out all of our chain, about 150 feet, and some of our line rode . We set the anchor, and all was well.

Erica wanted to go into town for dancing and partying , and I looked up and saw a dark wall of clouds approaching. I mention to her I did not like the looks of that dark wall. She is from the Boston area, and did not think it was any big deal. I am a southern california boy, and it looked bloody ominous to me.

She goes down below to take a shower and I stand anchor watch. We are not near any other vessels and with billion tons of thick anchor chain and huge anchor out, we were looking pretty good.

Up she comes all refreshed and I go below for a quick boat shower, come out of the shower and spied the bottle of rum . I poured a drink of dark rum, and instantly flelt the boat move.

Erica shouts WE ARE DRAGGING. Weil , I pull on a pair o board shorts and to tearing up to the cockpit. No deck shoes, no gloves no shirt . That bloody dark wall is upon us, the wind is roaring, and the rain is blowing horizontally.

We had the engine running to charge the batteries, Erica is behind the helm and I race up to the anchor locker to pay out more rode, give us more scope and give the anchor a chance to reset.

I uncleat the line rode, and start to pay it out, the wind gust now is horrendous, the visibility to the rain is about 50 feet. Things are going to get worse. The anchor line is now burning thru my hands, I cannot hole it. I can envision the line running to the bitter end, and losing the line, chain and anchor, and then we were going to have some major problems.

I shout back to Erica, FULL POWER, FULL AHEAD, FULL POWER. She is at the helm and shouts back FULL POWER ALL AHEAD.....well, the force of the wind is so strong, we did not pull ahead much, but it gave me the chance to take raps around the windlass, and then secure it with a proper cleat hitch to the bow cleat. I closed the anchor locker and secured that.

Back in the cockpit, the visibility is still near zero, but we and see that we are no longer dragging.

I have the VHF on Channel 16. Radio calls are blasting over the speakers, vessels at sea are in trouble, WE ARE JUST SUNDAY SAILORS, CAN SOME ONE HELP US.. No, you are on your own.
The winds were up to 63 mph.....74 mph is hurricane force.

There are not 12 of us on a sea going condomaximal , it is just the two of us. No worries.

We stood anchor watches until about 2 am in the morning, We kept the engine running and in gear to take some of the load off the anchor gear. We swapped helm watches, but both remained in the cockpit.

at 2 pm, we saw that we were holding steady, and not dragging, and decided to get some rest. The winds and dropped in intensity and the visibility came back so we could see land marks and other boats.

Next morning the sun was shining, the skies clear, and we were staying put . We went ashore to the harbor masters office to inquire what the hell happened. None of that was forecast.

Turns out, it was not forecast, a tropical depression formed in our area, and was not expected.
Some boats were missing, but probably took shelter in a safe harbor on other islands.

The sun charter base, was a mess, they had the whole staff including office workers trying to save the boats, that we med moored stern to. Anchor lines were being wrapped, props jammed, and they had an exciting night. But, no major damage .

We went ashore, and rented a car and toured the island on our own. Afterward we stopped at Le Select, Jimm Buffets bar, for brews and that cheeseburger in paradise. St. Barts is a great island with neat people and a lot of french infulence....GOOD LOOKING WOMEN.

A couple days later, early morning, we are hauling up the anchor, Erica is at the helm and I am up at the electric windlass. I signal to here the the chain is straight up and down, and to go forward and break the anchor out.

Nope, we are caught on something, the anchor will not break out, and I certainly did not want to use the windlass to break it free. More problems with that move.

So, I take a look and I can see our anchor, about two feet below the water caught on something.
I get into the dink and walk it up along side the hull to the anchor line. I have a serrated knife with me.

I can now see that our anchor is jammed into the eye of a 2 inch think old mooring line that is soundly fixed to its concrete block . OK, no one is going to be using that thick mooring line since it was laying on the bottom....

What had occurred, when our anchor began dragging on the bottom it snagged the eye of that stout mooring line and held us fast through the storm.

Luck, luck and more luck.
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