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Old 17-07-2016, 10:56   #1
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Opinions Wanted: Caribbean Hurricane Season Planning

Hello All,

TL;DR Question: Where and how should we spend August & September in the Caribbean?

More Detail:
I would love to have some strong crisp opinions. I will make my own choices, but I enjoy receiving strong opinions from others over vague notions. I did a search and found some hints from other threads, but given my specific context I would value others' experience and views.


1) We are a family of 5: Husband, wife, two boys (14 & 11) and grandma on a Lagoon 450 that we have owned for 4 years, and have sailed for 6 months total so far. We have just taken her out of charter and are now full-time cruising newbies.

2) Currently in BVI, will pick up our household shipment in St Thomas next week, and then we are having some crew changes occur that have us in St Martin through August 9th.

3) We are getting our canvas and clears for our hard bimini. The vendor is based in FL and will fly in to install and currently wants to install them in the virgins in September to group it with another install

4) We have visited all three flavors of the virgins extensively and we are getting bored of them and would not mind not coming back for a very long time. We love St Martin and St Barts and would not mind spending a lot of time there and suspect we would like the other French islands a lot.

5) We have been told that Grenada is The Bomb! And we are looking forward to being there.

6) I am not restricted by my insurance geographically.

What do you suggest we do specifically?

A) Sail directly from St Martin / St Barts to Greneda after the August 9th crew change? It is Approx 400 nm and it seems that the wind angle is likely not to be too close? This would appear to be an approx 3 day offshore passage. As a family we did a 3-day offshore from La Rochelle France to Gijon Spain before, while not apprehensive of doing offshore, we probably prefer island hopping. But this option would get us down to Greneda by say mid August and would be arguably the more conservative option in regards to hurricane safety?

B) Island hop from St Barts down the chain and get to Greneda as we see fit, irregardless of hurricane season, and then simply clear out and sail south if one forms?

C) Do a blend of A & B, where we island hop say from St Barts to Nevix, skip Antigua for now, land in Les Saintes? And then skip down to St Lucia, and then Greneda?

D) Not worry about hurricane season at all, and hang out in St Martin / St Barts until my canvas and clears are ready to install in September, fall back to Tortola, get them installed, and then finally head down the island chain to slowly cruise properly?

Which one would you suggest, A, B, C or D (or ?) and why?

Thank you very much for your experience,

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Old 17-07-2016, 11:46   #2
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Re: Opinions Wanted: Caribbean Hurricane Season Planning

Hi Eric,
There is a good possibility that you could hang in the St. Martin / St. Barts until early August without any hurricane related problems, however ...... I assume you aren’t willing to bet your life on it? You have another option that you didn’t list. If you sailed directly to Curacao from say, St. Martin, you would have a 475 mile broad reach. Less than 3 days run. The difference between this option and your option A is that you gain 350 miles going away from the hurricane - worth an extra 36 hours or so.

We picked up our 2009 Leopard 47PC from the Mooring’s in Tortola last August, when its charter contract finished. We did not find any place we could find shelter in the event that a hurricane showed up. All this “tying up in the mangroves” crap assumes that you know where to go; you get there before the locals take up all of the available space; you are willing to ride out the hurricane aboard, adjusting your lines, fending off drifting vessels, swatting mosquitoes and snakes and drinking up the humidity - instead of reading the fine print on your insurance policy about gelcoat scratches while watching the progress of the hurricane on CNN from a barstool at the St. Maarten, Westin. Good luck if you think you will find space for a cat at a marina in August.

Grenada is great (that’s where we are right now!) If you choose options A, B or C, you could always keep Curacao as an option E bailout. Hurricanes run at a speed of around 10 knots at these latitudes, so you should stay well ahead of it when running away. Carry extra diesel!


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Old 18-07-2016, 08:36   #3
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Re: Opinions Wanted: Caribbean Hurricane Season Planning

Grenada is indeed a great option. Was just there recently. And does not have the security issues N and S of it.
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Old 18-07-2016, 10:07   #4
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Re: Opinions Wanted: Caribbean Hurricane Season Planning

sail anywhere you wish, your insurance will cover ye until you hit nasties. keep a good weather eye and check the satellite pix an nhc daily. **** happens. when you are in caribbean you will meet up with folks who have been sailing there forever and know where to hide and how-- follow their advice to the letter. they will not brag in open international forums where these places are. you need to be there and know the locale and folks first.
there are ways to sail in cane zones in safety with enjoyment.
is just like sailing anywhere else--check windows for weather and impending doom.
sail around those.
hunker down between , when storms threaten, and go where the old salts tell ye.
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Old 18-07-2016, 10:13   #5
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Re: Opinions Wanted: Caribbean Hurricane Season Planning

Go to Tobago Cays, and cruise anywhere south of there. Keep a weather eye, You can be in Trinidad 24 hours ahead of any named storm. Never escape North, you might just get nailed by the subsequent storm. We sit happily in the Cays in HS. The further south you go the better the statistics look.
Tight sheets to ya.
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Old 18-07-2016, 12:54   #6
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Re: Opinions Wanted: Caribbean Hurricane Season Planning

Now onwards I would be on the hard or in Grenada or the ABCs or in New England. I'm noting that you have a family. On my own I might be anywhere, but prepared to sail away at any time and watching the weather daily. I'd still be watching and prepared to sail south in Grenada too if I were you. 99% chance of no problems, but that 1% is actually a big risk if you think about it.

Russian roulette with a large capacity revolver is still Russian roulette.
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Old 18-07-2016, 14:41   #7
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Re: Opinions Wanted: Caribbean Hurricane Season Planning

I think travel in August and September are foolhardy.

The long range assesment of the season suggests most tropical disturbances will form west of the east Caribbean Islands, but, of course, the waves start well to the east.

You have got yourselves into a very difficult predicament.

If you can leave now then Grenada via St Martin (so tou are close to the islands) is an option, but only if you have satellite weather.

Otherwise i think you are best to get out of the Virgin Islands and get to St Martin.
Organise a substantial mooring from Atlantec Divers VHF 10. Then you can cruise that area and have the safety of the Lagoon.

But remember, 2 years ago 100 boats were lost in a hurricane without warning.
You MUST get your children off the boat if a hurricane hits.

Insurance doesnt cover the cost of childrens lives.

You are now 1 and a half months into the hurricane season. You dont have time to chuck conjecure about. Now is the time for safety action.

Notes on a Circumnavigation.

Somalia Pirates and our Convoy
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Old 18-07-2016, 15:23   #8
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Re: Opinions Wanted: Caribbean Hurricane Season Planning

Grenada! Did 2 hurricane seasons there. Really like the country. And the food!

They did get hit a few years back. Once in 50 years. But if you are there you can run south to Trinidad and get clear of it. But it is hotter than Hades!

S/V Vivo

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