14 August 2007 | Grand Anse
When there's a storm threat Chris Parker comes on at 7AM and also adds a 7PM service. This guy is a hero in the Caribbean and the Bahamas. He is tireless, always kind and friendly, even to the biggest knuckle heads (don't ask me how I know), and incredibly informative. I'm certain that he saves lives all the time unbeknownst to anyone.
The 7PM forecast today was not optimistic. We were looking at a reasonable chance of a direct hit. The only places I've been that I could imagine riding out a direct hit from a major hurricane are Cariacou's Tyrell Bay Mangrove swamp, Luperon in the DR and a few sneaky places in the Bahamas. Grenada has good holes but they're too big and there would be too many boats, IMHO.
We collected all of the facts, made a list of possible escapes and invited Fred and Cindy from Kelp Fiction over to discuss thoughts on the matter. We ruled out Trinidad quickly. Trinidad is great because it never gets hit. In this case they were saying that it could get hit, or if things went Grenada way it would suffer a near miss. There are no real hurricane holes in Trinidad but there are huge numbers of boats. The only possible hide out that we could identify was the fishing port in Port of Spain.
Venezuela had a lot of nice spots but everything was about 200 miles away. Laguna Grande and similar spots were well south and very protected as well. This route became the favorite of Cindy, Hideko and myself. I probably would have preferred to stay in Grenada and spend the time really digging into the mangroves but our insurance (or lack thereof in Grenada) put me into the Venezuela camp. Fred wanted to stay in Grenada. At the end of our discussion we agreed to leave for Venezuela at noon tomorrow unless the 7AM report made us fairly confident that Grenada was out of the strike zone.
Hideko and I stayed up planning a route around Los Testigos to Margarita island in Venezuela, and then on to the Golfo de Cariaco on the mainland. We needed to plan things to arrive in Margarita with good light because the area is famous for nets and fish traps. The last thing you need when running from a hurricane is a net fouling your props. If reports on the SSB were still not going our way as day broke, we decided that we would pass by Margarita Customs (not the preference of the Venezuelan authorities) in order to be properly prepared for the storm. We also needed to ensure we anchored before night fall as the entire area was new to all of us.
I lay awake long into the night running through all of the tasks for staying or going in my mind. Take down and stow the jib. Take down and stow the windscreen. Clean everything off of the rails. How am I going to deploy the three anchors. Which way do we want to face if the storm goes north, which was if south, which way if a direct hit. Stow the dinghy or stash it in the mangroves for emergency operations? Get a tank ready so that I can dive on all of the ground tackle and all of the anchors for boats around us. Make them safe and we'll be safe. Lash the main to the boom and secure the boom. Put the front cover on the sail bag so that it doesn't act like a parachute. Run all of the halyards to the rail. Brush my teeth. Walk Roq. ...