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Old 31-03-2011, 22:24   #1
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Carribean Hurricane Season Options

Hi
I am wondering what the options might be to spend the hurricane season cheaply either live aboard or leaving the boat in or out of the water and living in a cottage. Considering Puerto Rico, BVI's, DR or any other options. Does anyone have advice or exoerience that may help?
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Old 01-04-2011, 00:38   #2
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Re: Carribean Hurricane season options????

I haven't been there since Hugo in '89, but (at least then) one of the best hurricane holes in the N end of the Antilles was Ensenada Honda in Culebra (the island between St Thomas and Puerto Rico). Apart from deep and heavy mud in most of the side bays there were winding inlets well embanked with mangroves. One can hardly think of a better protected spot.

Unless one is in a substantial concrete building (the fort at Charlotte Amalie comes to mind) I don't know that I would want to be ashore during a serious hurricane in the Caribbean, as the weather is generally so balmy that a building really doesn't need to be very substantial for 99% of the time (and most are built to the conditions). Of course, for the other 1% the structure needs to be like a command bunker. You want to choose a spot away from large vegetation and other structures (too much flying debris) that's preferably a bit away from the water (storm tides and pounding surf can smash through virtually anything mankind can construct).

You may have to check with your insurer about locations they are happy with. Not that I would wish to, but if I had to go through another hurricane I'd choose to be at Culebra. Beyond anything else, after the fan turned off the people of Culebra helped each other, rather than the looting that went on in St Croix. Hugo taught me one important lesson (applicable to many situations in life): if you see a large storm on the horizon bearing down on you, get out of the way and let it pass you by.

Cheers
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Old 02-04-2011, 11:18   #3
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Re: Carribean Hurricane season options????

I have spent the last four years living aboard in the Virgin Islands. I started by sticking my boat in a local hurricane hole on Water Island (clearly set up to the best of my abilities) and going ashore to wait out the storm. I quickly learned that the holes in the the usvi are small and crowded and full of boats that are not set up at all. The next year I ran to Enseneda Honda, Vieques whenever a storm looked to be coming our way. The only safe way to do this is to run early and often for no reason. There is no shore or civilization in Vieques near the hurricane hole, so the next year we went to Enseneda Honda, Culebra. Last year we rode out Earl there comfortably before continuing on the Salinas, PR to spend the rest of hurricane season close to Bahia de Jobos. This year we are thinking of going to Luperon, DR, does anyone have any information on Luperon? Holding, mangroves, how people there set up?
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Old 03-04-2011, 06:48   #4
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Re: Carribean Hurricane season options????

IMHO, Luperon D.R. is the only "in-water" proven hurricane hole north of Trinidad. All of the Windward and Leeward Islands, Virgins, Puerto Rico have generally adequate places to "hide" so long as you do not take a direct hit. But with most of them the over-crowding becomes more hazardous than the storm.
- - "Out of water" storage is generally quite good and available in just about all the islands but it is not cheap and varies in how well they strap down your boat.
- - A few years ago we had 3 hurricanes come over the top of Luperon and no boats were lost or severely damaged. It has to do mostly with the geography of the place. There are large mountain ranges to the south that lift the storms above and over the top of Luperon. Most boats hide up inside "Love Canal" but it does get crowded. However, the Hurricane parties at Puerto Blanco Marina bar are really fun and usually do more damage to you than the hurricane.
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Old 09-04-2011, 15:40   #5
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Re: Carribean Hurricane season options????

Have you considered Guatemala? The Rio Dulce is a great hurricane haven and it has several marinas available for liveaboard or storage.
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Old 09-04-2011, 16:15   #6
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Re: Carribean Hurricane season options????

Having successfully weathered five....count 'em, 5....major hurricanes with over 100 knots of wind in the marina, I offer the following:

1. Culebra, specifically Ensenada Honda, is NOT a good place to weather a hurricane; it's much too big and unprotected; many boats went down and there were deaths there in one of the big ones;

2. Nanny Cay marina, where my boat was in all five hurricanes, is maybe the best hurricane hole in the islands. Far better than the traditional hurricane anchorages in the BVI (like Paraquita Bay). However, it's crowded and if you're not based there you won't find a good spot. The only boats which suffered much damage in the five hurricanes were those which were hauled out ashore and blown over, or were hit by other boats which had blown over. I believe that they now dig holes for keels and require you to remove your mast.

3. Hurricane Hole in the mangroves at the east end of St. John, USVI is/was a traditional place to hide. However, you've gotta get there VERY early, and it's not all that good anyway.

4. The Lagoon in St. Martin, likewise, is a traditional place to hide -- like Ensenada Honda in Culebra -- but in a severe hurricane it can be a killer. Many boats and lives lost there in one of the big ones.

There are dozens of good anchorages in the Antilles which offer some decent protection in tropical storm conditions, but if a hurricane is passing in just the right direction these, too, will be overwhelmed.

From what I've seen and know of first-hand, I'd say anyone who stays on his/her boat in hurricane conditions just doesn't understand the risk. It's not so much the hurricane itself, but the small tornados which often form around the eye, and which have winds in excess of 200 knots. NOTHING can withstand these. They can and do make entire houses disappear completely, as well as other structures -- a ham friend had five 150' commercial radio towers completely removed by a hurricane; three of these were never found.

FWIW,

Bill
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Old 09-04-2011, 16:27   #7
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Re: Carribean Hurricane season options????

How would it work-out to run south to Aruba to get out of the track????
Michael
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Old 09-04-2011, 16:53   #8
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Re: Carribean Hurricane season options????

You would need nearly a week to get to Aruba (ABC Islands) and with that much time before a forecast storm the margin of error can exceed 500 nm and totally miss where you left. Not until about 48 hours before a storm due you get a reasonably tight forecast of where the storm will strike. So in all instances you are playing a game of odds as to whether you will be hit or not.
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Old 10-04-2011, 19:16   #9
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Re: Carribean Hurricane season options????

Hi and thanks to everyone who responded. I have decided on Rio Dulce and will head for there from later this week. I had a great response and really appreciate all the information. I will let everyone know how it goes.
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