You may have seen the Caliber advertisements showing my boat on the beach in a Cat-1 hurricane
. You may have read the many, many heated debates about my decision to stay in a "hurricane hole" while we knew the storm was headed our way. Or, you may have read my long blogs about hurricane
track forecasting, my decision not to move, and the very long, painful, and expensive recovery from my encounter with Hurricane Marty.
At the time I decided to "ride out" our encounter with Marty (September 2003) by staying in a relatively secure anchorage that was hundreds of miles from the predicted landfall of Hurricane Marty- I had been cruising for four years, had prepared the boat for five other hurricanes, and had encountered the edges of two hurricanes and several tropical storms. I had also been sailing for 30+ years and had a great deal of experience, and in retrospect, Hubris regarding anchoring
in very difficult conditions.
I was pretty sure I knew about everything there was to know.
The hurricane behaved as no previous hurricane behaved, the National Weather Service
made several significant errors in forecasting and tracking, we had an unanticipated equipment
failure, and the conditions were far worse than I could ever have imagined (solid waves over the bow breaking behind the mast). At times the bowsprit
, with me on it, was 10 feet above the water
. Five seconds later the bow sprit would be three feet under water
It was not the wind
that caused the problem – it was the enormous waves coming from an unexpected direction. It was not just a few waves; it was eight hours of huge waves coming directly into the anchorage because the hurricane stalled just 25 miles NE of us when it had been forecast
to move ashore 125 miles SE of us with a forward speed of 25 knots.
NO hurricane in recorded history
(since 1950) had ever got that far north on a NE track, and then curved NNW, then stopped. Not one of the hundreds of hurricanes I had on a CD showing historical tracks behaved that way, so I knew Marty would not behave that way.
The five boats that decided to ride out the storm endured absolute terror for 12-hours as everything we thought we knew proved wrong.
End result was my boat on the beach relatively undamaged, a friends boat sunk and everything they owned destroyed, and two other boats with significant bow damage. All this was on a remote
desert island that was days from help. I spent half a day huddled under a rock in driving rain. The couple from the sunken boat spent two days on a tiny little island where their boat had dragged and sunk.
I too wanted to cruise
in a summer hurricane region and was very confident I had the knowledge and technical skills to manage the risk and to deal with unexpected situations.
I was wrong – my boat was saved. My friends were just as wrong and their boat was lost
I would seriously reconsider your plan about cruising in a remote
hurricane prone area, with children
, and few rock solid hurricane anchorages
I may be all wrong about this whole thing because I only know Western Mexico
hurricanes and have only sailed on the US East coast
in November - April so you can take my concerns with a large grain of sea-salt.