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Old 24-09-2017, 16:48   #1
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Should Hurricane Irma spoil our Plans?

Hi All! First of all, I appreciate this forum and the willingness of those offering an opinion, help, etc. Thanks!

OK, so husband - I'll call him Hal - and I recently retired early due to job loss and the plan was to find a catamaran and spend a few years plus or minus cruising the Caribbean. We have chartered many times and are confident this is a life that we'll enjoy. We even got to the point where we had an accepted offer on a suitable cat, but unfortunately it sank thanks to Irma. It was contingent on survey which hadn't happened so we are not out our funds, thank god. Hal, on the rebound is quickly finding other (maybe not so suitable) boats.

The thing is, that my feelings on these plans are cooling off but Hals are not. The reasons I'm feeling less keen are multifaceted. I guess first off is what others have expressed - how can we sail around islands where peoples lives have been devastated. How could we enjoy that? Its hard to imagine.

Second, because of the devastation, what about safety? Look at the media reports on French St Martin. Some people may have become more desperate? What about supplies? What about the changes in the landscape and ocean that maybe make everything not so attractive and enjoyable?

But, the most overwhelming cause for pause for me is that I wonder if the global weather pattern changes are going to increase.
Perhaps next hurricane season and for years to come there will be NOWHERE safe to lay the boat.

What are your thoughts on this?? Am I nuts? I'm happy to alter plans, but Hal is still keen. Help!?
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Old 24-09-2017, 17:06   #2
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Re: Should Hurricane Irma spoil our Plans??

This hurricane season was more active than mosts and especially for the Caribbean. Not all islands were affected and likely explore those first while awaiting the recovery to the extent you desire to visit. This does bring into focus the need for hurricane awareness and insurance... Insurance is available in the Caribbean, but you must buy the correct policy. You are fortunate not to have done what one couple did, close on a boat the week before Irma... therefore could not get insurance coverage in place before storm. There are certainly boats available. And enjoy the adventure.
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Old 24-09-2017, 17:09   #3
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Re: Should Hurricane Irma spoil our Plans??

There are lots of other places in the world to sail...Pacific, Med, Asia.
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Old 24-09-2017, 17:17   #4
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Re: Should Hurricane Irma spoil our Plans??

My advice is not to allow fear to guide your thinking. The entire Caribbean was not destroyed, and the Bahamas are still there. The Gulf of Mexico also offers great long-term cruising, around to Mexico and Central America and the ABC islands. If you don't like where you go, or you don't feel safe there, up anchor; that's the beauty of cruising. Hold onto the dream with your husband, it's still a beautiful world out there. How about the Med?
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Old 24-09-2017, 17:19   #5
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Re: Should Hurricane Irma spoil our Plans??

You can't make assumptions about hurricanes and climate change. There were all sorts of notable storm events over the past decade, but then in 2014 there was very little of note - we spent the entire hurricane season in The Bahamas.
You should also consider that in many of these islands, tourism is the major, if not the only industry; the people there are dependent on tourism, which of course, drops off dramatically. Give them a chance to clean up, but don't avoid going altogether.
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Old 24-09-2017, 17:21   #6
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Re: Should Hurricane Irma spoil our Plans??

Doesn't need to spoil you're plans, but as far as the Caribbean, it may change your plans.
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Old 24-09-2017, 17:39   #7
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Re: Should Hurricane Irma spoil our Plans??

The insurance companies are going to take a hit of many hundreds of millions...The insurance market, next year, may dictate where and when people cruise in the Caribbean
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Old 24-09-2017, 18:58   #8
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Re: Should Hurricane Irma spoil our Plans??

Insurance will certainly be more expensive for those remaining in the vulnerable areas during the season.

I think some smaller insurance companies won't survive.

The charter businesses on those islands will sure have to change their business models, charging more.

The boat market will be greatly affected for at least a few years.

But stay informed about where you want to cruise, everything will be fine for those bringing their money to where it'll be so desperately needed.
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Old 24-09-2017, 23:46   #9
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Re: Should Hurricane Irma spoil our Plans??

1) don't be in the water in hurricane season in the Caribbean, it's likely we are going to see a lot more activity
2) our islands are focussed on recovery and especially on our tourism products. We should be welcoming visitors by Christmas, our economies depend on it.
3) I guarantee St. Martin will be open for business, it's a very dynamic island and it can't afford to waste time. The ferry from Anguilla is about to resume and they expect full electric supply in a month.
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Old 25-09-2017, 09:05   #10
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Re: Should Hurricane Irma spoil our Plans??

Speaking for the BVI, our winds are still great, our anchorages beautiful, if much simpler than before, and our water is blue.

The kindest thing you can do to the affected islands is to patronize them. Your business will absolutely be appreciated and welcomed, and you are likely to have a very meaningful and different experience. Staying away out of sympathy or sensitivity is neither sympathetic nor sensitive. It is certainly understandable, but it's neither of these emotions....much more oriented to self and those who don't want to see difficult situations, which is not a good recipe for a cruiser. Sorry to be blunt.

What the boat situation will be is tough to say. Right now, it's fair to say that we are in the triage situation: which boats are lost or total losses, which are easy to repair, and which are hard to repair. This has to affect all sorts of things, and the used boat market is one of them.

The BVI is working really hard on the recovery, and is well on its way. While we are nowhere close to welcoming tourists, that moment will come in months, and not that many months. It's our lifeblood so we are not sitting around, waiting for government agencies to grind their wheels and so forth. Everyone is getting on with it. I would bet it's the same on the other Caribbean islands with the possible exception of Puerto Rico, but that's a guess. It's huge, by comparison, was broke to start with, and will be subject to massive US bureaucracy. It will certainly be back, but it might lag some of the others....just my opinion.
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Old 25-09-2017, 09:19   #11
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Re: Should Hurricane Irma spoil our Plans??

We have sailed the Caribbean chain for years and plan to return this year but probably will not make it in the water. We will be making repairs and based upon photographs, our boat being in the center of the yard will be the last to be righted.

Later this year will be a wonderful time to be in the areas damaged by the storms. There will be fewer boats on the water making for less crowded boating. Just your presence, in the water or out will help the local economies. And perhaps you will find an opportunity to lend a hand.

Staying away, after the emergencies are over, does more harm than good.
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Old 25-09-2017, 09:35   #12
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Re: Should Hurricane Irma spoil our Plans??

fear can scare ye off this misadventure. but only if you allow it to do so.
the islands will need the tourist dollars to rebuild. it will be a different place than it was before irma for at least a year or two, but that doesnot mean skip the place. there are plenty of islands and many cruising grounds.
folks skipped barra de navidad after patricia which kinda slowed growth and repair... and personal incomes dropped to subsistence levels so no one was able to repair without assistance.
this is going to be same in islands. go have fun. if you plan on chartering a cat in islands , might wanna call ahead to see what your options are once the charter companies regroup and reboot. seems most of the boats got damaged.
tourist areas are first to be rebuilt so income does not suffer too much.
remember these are tourism based locales dependent on your visits for income.
who knows mebbe you can even lend a helping hand to the locals in their rebuilding adventures
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Old 25-09-2017, 10:27   #13
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Re: Should Hurricane Irma spoil our Plans??

Don't let fear keep you from your dream. Wait for hurricane season to be over. Go there. Sleep in a palapa or under the stars if you have to. Take your time, look around and find a fixer-upper you have the money and ability to bring back. Fix it. Help others fix theirs. It will help the recovery! What an opportunity for an adventure of a lifetime! What a fantastic opportunity has been presented to you. They do not come around at the right time that often. It might turn out to be a bigger and better dream than the one you have now. It reminds me of the movie "Captain Ron". When you get to my age, it might be the best thing you ever did.
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Old 25-09-2017, 10:34   #14
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Re: Should Hurricane Irma spoil our Plans??

Where is safe? London? Paris? NY? Just go but be prudent. Never anchor alone. I've spent 3 years there, wonderful place , great people who need tourists, liveaboards more than ever. Make sure u are well supplied. Yes there were incidents when i was there though thankfully I and 99% (?) of liveaboards have no problems. The word on the street will tell you where is not a good place to be. I always gave St Vincents a miss (except the Grenadines), but others went and had a great time.
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Old 25-09-2017, 10:43   #15
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Re: Should Hurricane Irma spoil our Plans??

As someone who lost a boat only days after closing the sale (thank God I got insurance transferred to me 2 days before Irma), I've spend the last 2 weeks thinking about what's next. Losing this boat was hard, I spent 2 years looking and this was the perfect boat for me. What was harder was losing my plan to work my job from STT, while keeping my boat in the charter company there and customizing her for me to eventually truly retire and go cruising. Things lined up perfectly for me when my company signed off on me working from there. Then poof, it's gone.
The Red Hook part of STT did not get hit as hard as other areas, so I'm leaning toward still moving there, even without a boat. Upon stepping foot on STT and STJ, I knew I belonged there, so I figure maybe I can help by volunteering or the $ I spend can help. My point is, life puts obstacles in our lives/ plans. You can't let fear of unknown future events to guide your actions. Sure, you can be more cautious and prudent, that's just smart, but don't stop fulfilling your dreams based on a couple of big ass storms.
You can count the number of island decimated on your fingers. But south of there are dozens of beautiful islands untouched by these storms. You can start there and work your way up to the VI. Or just go there and help those poor folks out. I'm thinking that's what I might try to do next spring. Sure you can go to the Med or Pacific, but those people need us now more than ever. Now is not the time to abandon them. So I say, modify your plans if you need to, but don't give in to fear, ever!
That's my take.
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