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Old 17-03-2019, 03:03   #1
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Hurricane season in the Bahamas - a good idea?

Hi everybody,
I am considering different strategies for hurricane Season in the Caribbean and one was to stay in the Bahamas, checking the weather and be ready to leave into a safe direction when a hurricane gets visible on the Atlantic. I can got at least 200 nm in 24 h.

What do you think, is that a smart idea?
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Old 17-03-2019, 03:55   #2
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Re: Hurricane season in the Bahamas - a good idea?

well there's limited places to hide, your need the weather in order to move that 200 miles, and 200 miles isn't anything to a hurricane going through
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Old 17-03-2019, 04:26   #3
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Re: Hurricane season in the Bahamas - a good idea?

Nelsons,

After living and sailing in hurricane zones for over 15 years and having had boats survive 5 hurricanes and typhoons I think your proposed strategy is very dangerous and unlikely to be condoned by your insurance company.

There is no such thing as a 'hurricane safe' location once the hurricane reaches Cat 2-3. Over the years we sailed thousands of miles to get out of the 'hurricane, cyclone and typhoon zones. We considered 2,500 from Tahiti to New Zealand a small price to pay for security!
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Old 17-03-2019, 13:50   #4
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Re: Hurricane season in the Bahamas - a good idea?

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Originally Posted by Nelsons View Post
Hi everybody,
I am considering different strategies for hurricane Season in the Caribbean and one was to stay in the Bahamas, checking the weather and be ready to leave into a safe direction when a hurricane gets visible on the Atlantic. I can got at least 200 nm in 24 h.

What do you think, is that a smart idea?
I do not think your idea is a crazy as some will think. I grew up in Florida and spent a lot of time in the Bahamas in the summer. There are a lot of options if you are there and want to get back to the US. The worst of a hurricane is around the eye. If you can be 100 miles from the center and in a sheltered area, you should be fine. That said, I would not want to be crossing the stream if a hurricane was getting close. Be careful and don't cut things too close and you should be fine.
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Old 17-03-2019, 14:31   #5
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Re: Hurricane season in the Bahamas - a good idea?

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I do not think your idea is a crazy as some will think. I grew up in Florida and spent a lot of time in the Bahamas in the summer. There are a lot of options if you are there and want to get back to the US. The worst of a hurricane is around the eye. If you can be 100 miles from the center and in a sheltered area, you should be fine. That said, I would not want to be crossing the stream if a hurricane was getting close. Be careful and don't cut things too close and you should be fine.
And how do you plan to get 100 miles from the eye? You'd need to do that at least 2 days before the predicted a arrival, preferably 5. Yet the predicted course is plus or minus a few hundred miles at that point.
Any place that is a good hurricane hole or haul out location will be jammed by locals before you arrive.
If the season is busy, are you going to make mult-day runs and boat preparations 3 or 5 times?
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Old 17-03-2019, 15:00   #6
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Re: Hurricane season in the Bahamas - a good idea?

Some people who tried this a couple of years ago in the USVI and were not seen again.


So if the Hurricane starts in the Gulf of Mexico and comes up between Cuba and FLorida to wards the Bahamas, where would you plan to run to?
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Old 18-03-2019, 00:46   #7
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Re: Hurricane season in the Bahamas - a good idea?

Thank you all so much for your replies, your thoughts are much appreciated.

Well, my idea is based on the fact that a hurricane is rarely moving faster forward than 25 kn. With professional weather applications I did follow the last season events and I have figured out that in every case there was a reaction time of at least 4-5 days. That would be enough time to get a distance of up to 1.000 nm.

The downside is - like some of you mentioned - do choose the right escape direction.

However if I compare it with a stay in Chesapeake Bay (would be fine with the insurance ironically) there were by far much harder conditions compared to the Bahamas - in the last hurricane season. Or if you consider that staying in the ABC islands is much safer but not covered by the insurance.

But it seems this question affects us all.

Thanks again for your feedback
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Old 18-03-2019, 06:53   #8
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Re: Hurricane season in the Bahamas - a good idea?

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And how do you plan to get 100 miles from the eye? You'd need to do that at least 2 days before the predicted a arrival, preferably 5. Yet the predicted course is plus or minus a few hundred miles at that point.
Any place that is a good hurricane hole or haul out location will be jammed by locals before you arrive.
If the season is busy, are you going to make mult-day runs and boat preparations 3 or 5 times?
I would stay South and West of the cone. If you plan for that, you should be good. From 5 days out, you have idea if a storm is heading your way. There are a lot of escape routes from the Bahamas compared to the BVI. It is a risk I would take but it may not be for you. The odds of a direct hit if you take action are low.
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Old 18-03-2019, 08:37   #9
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Re: Hurricane season in the Bahamas - a good idea?

Best bet on having your boat in the Bahamas during hurricane season is to have a haul-out arrangement with a local yard there. If a storm threatens, you need to have guaranteed or even pre-paid haul-out set up and ready to go. I wouldn't dream of trying to outrun a hurricane on a sailboat. Haul it out, get off of it and fly yourself out of the path of the hurricane. Anything else is an unnecessary risk.
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Old 18-03-2019, 08:53   #10
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Re: Hurricane season in the Bahamas - a good idea?

Bad idea, VERY bad idea. Having sailed and lived in the Caribbean for may years I highly suggest that you head South, way south and have a haul out location and plan. Even then remember what happened to Grenada in 2004 with Hurricane Ivan, the island was devastated and hundreds of boats were destroyed.

https://www.theguardian.com/environm....climatechange

Never underestimate the power of a Hurricane.
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Old 18-03-2019, 08:59   #11
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Re: Hurricane season in the Bahamas - a good idea?

Quote:
Originally Posted by spearfish3 View Post
I would stay South and West of the cone. If you plan for that, you should be good. From 5 days out, you have idea if a storm is heading your way. There are a lot of escape routes from the Bahamas compared to the BVI. It is a risk I would take but it may not be for you. The odds of a direct hit if you take action are low.
For a larger really well found boat with fresh and ample crew you might be able to risk it. And for an average couple or other shorthanded crew on an average slow moving boat during this exercise: if something happens to the crew or the boat, you could easily be left drifting in the path of a killer event.

The literature is full of these types of cases.

Mistakes happen and mistakes happen more often -or at least the effects are more amplified- by stress events like bad weather.

If you want to stay in the tropics in the summer, why not go south of the hurricane belt? Or better, go north to New England or the Maritimes? Beautiful in July, August and September. Anyway, a good topic and Lotsa choices...
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Old 18-03-2019, 08:59   #12
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Re: Hurricane season in the Bahamas - a good idea?

2004 Hurricane Ivan
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Old 18-03-2019, 09:03   #13
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Re: Hurricane season in the Bahamas - a good idea?

IMHO the key to hurricane preparedness is a safe place. Prebooked locations and haulouts do not apply unless you want to pay on an annual basis for a guaranteed space. Otherwise you will wind up on a waiting list as the reports circulate. Book a reasonably protected marina and invest in the extra lines/anchors needed to secure your boat from both wind and tidal surges. Worked for me in the IRMA bull's eye a while back. Free safe spaces like mangroves are fine but tend to fill up fast and you are vulnerable to a poorly secured vessel.
Running can be a lousy option. Years ago I left a trailer in Clearwater for a solid hotel in Bartow. The storm track shifted, my trailer was untouched, Bartow was slammed. So much for storm trackers.
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Old 18-03-2019, 09:04   #14
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Re: Hurricane season in the Bahamas - a good idea?

This is a good place to point to all that may not be aware that the hurricane track forecast cone "The Danger Zone" represents only a 2/3 probability that the center of the hurricane will be inside that defined cone. There's a 1 in 3 chance that the CENTER of the hurricane will be OUTSIDE that cone, and don't forget that hurricane force and gale force winds can extend hundreds of mile out from the center, so the danger area can be HUGE at even a 72 hour forecast. (72 hr radius = 103 nm currently)

https://www.nhc.noaa.gov/aboutcone.shtml

Quote:
The cone represents the probable track of the center of a tropical cyclone, and is formed by enclosing the area swept out by a set of circles (not shown) along the forecast track (at 12, 24, 36 hours, etc). The size of each circle is set so that two-thirds of historical official forecast errors over a 5-year sample fall within the circle.
The error rate is different for the Atlantic and the Pacific. The error rate is reviewed each year averaging all errors for the past 5 years.

Or, you could be in the "danger zone" and get almost NOTHING AT ALL.
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Old 18-03-2019, 09:13   #15
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Re: Hurricane season in the Bahamas - a good idea?

Interesting. Carolyn Shearlock of The Boat Galley just posted today their strategies for cruising the Caribbean during hurricane season which they do all the time. It really depends on how well you plan and what your risk tolerance is. If you have insurance then there is going to be that consideration as well and lastly luck. Friends of mine tied their boat up in a mangrove swamp and said good by. Hurricane was coming and they knew their boat wasn't going to survive no matter what they did. This hurricane stopped 1 island over and parked for 3 days. Stripped everything off the island, sand, vegetation etc. Only thing left was one guy';s house which had been built specifically to withstand a hurricane. The weakened storm passed over them then built up again making landfall in Central America where it then jumped to the Pacific as a hurricane. May be the only time in recorded history of that happening. Their boat rode out the weakened storm without incident.
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