The Blue View - Watching Out for Hurricanes

storm at sea We've had a taste of three tropical storms during our sailing days – one in a marina and two at sea. When we were still chartering boats a few decades ago, we learned that the rates were significantly less if we rented a boat during hurricane season. I figured the odds of encountering a hurricane during the 10 days of each season we were chartering were pretty low. The odds caught up with us one year, however, when we took a direct hit from Hurricane Bertha in the British Virgin Islands. We hunkered down in a marina in Virgin Gorda, prepped and secured the boat as best we could, then sat through it. We watched coconuts fly through the air as though fired from a cannon, and had a brief “eye-of-the-storm” party before the second half of the storm assaulted us. It was only a Category 1 hurricane, and was more of an adventure than anything life threatening – especially since it was a chartered boat and not ours.

cyclone bune

On Nine of Cups, we got chased down the Tasman Sea off the west coast of New Zealand by a cyclone one year, then got a taste of another cyclone between the Chatham Islands and the east coast New Zealand's north island another year. Neither was a direct hit, but both were certainly unpleasant. Both were out of the normal cyclone belts and weren't predicted until we were en route on passages. The first one caused some rough weather, but veered off before catching us. We caught the edge of the second one and suffered a knockdown and considerable damage from it.

storm damageWe'd just as soon not have any more encounters with tropical storms, hurricanes or cyclones, especially at sea, and now, as we are heading north up the east coast of the U.S., we're paying close attention to what's brewing out there. Hurricane season didn't officially start until June 1, but Tropical Storm Bonnie beat the gun, hitting the Carolinas on May 29th. We had planned to depart St. Augustine right about then, but it wasn't a difficult decision to postpone our passage until she passed by.

hurricane bonnie

It should be a 4-5 day passage to the Chesapeake, and if another tropical storm develops while we're en route, we should have enough notice to seek shelter. The forecasters usually provide that much warning these days, and you can be sure we'll be downloading weather advisories daily.