Boating is what we want to do and the Caribbean is where we want to be. Who doesn’t! This was our attitude for years and that is why we chartered a couple of times per season with and without the kids in Tortola, St. Lucia, Martinique St. Martin, etc. Finally, when we were ready to take the plunge (our youngest left for college) we headed to Tortola and bought our first sailboat. A Hunter 49 that we based out of Nanny Cay in the BVI. This was sailing ground zero and we had a blast. When the first summer came, we didn’t think much about Hurricanes because Florida and the Caribbean had been largely unaffected recently so it wasn’t a grave concern. That first summer, our insurance company was willing to drop the language that said we had to be south of 12.5 degrees north latitude (i.e. Grenada) by June 15th and until November 15th. We simply asked and they deleted the requirement…for the next two summers we sailed all over the Caribbean. It was great – largely empty and unspoiled. We even wrote about it being the “best time to cruise” and many charter companies began doing lots of business in August and September. Then, with our Leopard 48 (after a near miss in Turks & Caicos with Juaquin) we spent 2 ½ years cruising California, Mexico and Central America when Irma and Maria hit the Caribbean and all the resulting carnage – including almost total destruction of our previously owned Hunter 49. What a great time to be out of the Caribbean!
Not so fast
When we took delivery of our Leopard 50 last spring, we had a plan. Well….our original plan was to join the World Arc 2020 but we realized the boat needs a year or two with its new owners to get to know each other. We are currently one year into this relationship and it is time well spent. After we got her outfitted, we planned on spending the summer in the Bahamas. After one great trip to the Exumas we headed to the Abacos for Labor Day and just missed Hurricane Dorian by two days. Then, as we ran back to Florida, another tropical cyclone locked us down in Bimini. At this point I told my insurance agent “not to worry” we will sail the Caribbean this winter and have her in Grenada by June. No need to ask the insurance company for favors or upcharges we just want to protect this boat from these now inevitable storms.
Along came a Pandemic
And then, after only two trips to the BVI, the Pandemic locked us down and the cruising once per month was not possible. Again, our plans changed and that brings us to where we are now. The islands were not accepting visitors and we couldn’t travel south so we are in St. John, USVI, on a sailboat in HURRICANE SEASON. So, then we sent an emergency message to our insurance agent and pleaded for the price to stay in the northern Caribbean. As soon as the upgraded insurance was bound a storm popped up called Gonzalo and it was headed for you know where. Lennie and I hopped a jet last Saturday and by the time we landed the storm had actually died. Phew. We planned to stay for a week and sure enough here comes another one. And this one was forecast for a direct hit on the Virgin Islands. It wasn’t named yet so it was called Invest 93. We called our weather router Chris Parker and discussed our options. Head south? Too late. Head North and the storm may chase us. Nope we had to hunker down. We headed to Maho Bay and spent 24 hours prepping the boat for a storm. We were ready. Us and some other cruisers had an evening beach party which felt more like a wake as we talked about storms and watched our boats bobbing on their moorings. Eventually the gathering ended and we headed to our ships. The storm never built as forecast and we easily rode out a Tropical Storm which later became Isiaia . The boat did fine and we felt like we dodged a bullet. We never planned to be in a Hurricane Zone during Hurricane season but life throws you curve balls. As I finish this post, we are flying home but eyeing two more systems rolling off of Africa. Who knows how soon we will have to turn around and head back…