Hurricane Season Debate
30 May 2012 | Iced Tea with a Shot of Simple Syrup
Elizabeth (photo by Ed)
For anyone interested in what dominates the thoughts of liveaboards and topics of discussions these days, it's where to go for hurricane season. The season officially starts in two days, June 1, ending in November. Many liveaboards go without marine insurance; we happen to have it. This means we have to be mindful of where our policy covers us if there's damage from a named storm. In our case, that means Trinidad. That doesn't mean we have to stay put where we have coverage, only that we have to be there if a named storm looks threatening and the potential for damage to our vessel exists. Trinidad and Tobago are islands on the edge of South America; in fact Trinidad was part of SA a very long time ago and geographically resembles Venezuela. Trinidad and Tobago were skipped over by cruising vessels up until recently when someone at a local marina decided to invest in a used 50 ton travel lift to haul boats out for the hurricane season. Suddenly, many became interested in going there. While Trinidad isn't typically "Caribbean" in appearance, it is rich in history, culture and beauty. But many cruisers still shun it and "Trinidad Bash" with great conviction. Too hot, unattractive, crime-ridden, difficult at Customs, etc. Grenada, further north is described as the place to go by many boaters. However, Trinidad is considered to be "below" the hurricane belt while Grenada is often a target for named storms. When a storm is brewing, many cruisers staying in Grenada leave and head to Trinidad to wait things out, returning when all is clear. We hear that Grenada is beautiful and who wouldn't want to wait out a season in a place like that? But for us, settling in and having inexpensive marine services at our doorstep is important, as well as being able to stay in one place with the kind of conveniences a marina offers. If a named storm forms, we'll still move rather than being stuck at a slip in a marina, but around the corner to a hurricane hole beats making our way to another whole island, each time debating whether the conditions warrant an exit to safety or not. No one seems ambivalent in their opinions about where to go. If you don't like Trinidad, you really don't like it. If you do, you love it. We hope we'll become fans of it. If not, another lesson learned, I suppose. The other option for us, as suggested by our good friends and cruising mentors Terri and Chuck (s/v Makers Match--retired) is to sail around the ABC's (Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao). While those islands are not below the hurricane belt, they typically get hit with tropical storms and depressions rather than hurricanes. However, two hurricanes in '03 and '04 did impact the area. Our decision, as of today and subject to change with the wind is to spend our time in Trinidad, work on the boat while in a slip at a marina and hope we are one of those people who love it there. The ABC's still swirl around in our heads, and if Luna isn't granted an import permit for Trinidad, maybe we'll reconsider all our options. We'll keep you informed as we make decisions, though we're very apt to change our minds several times over. Right now, we'll continue to enjoy St. Vincent and the Grenadines before making our way further south.