13 August 2007 | Prickly Bay
Hurricanes don't typically make it down to Grenada. At least that's what everyone said until they got hit twice in less than a year three years ago. Before that the 1950s had been the last hit. Hurricanes are born off of the coast of Africa in the form of tropical waves. They start to form as low pressure systems in the wave and progress to depressions, storm and finally hurricanes. Unfortunately the hurricane stage often is achieved prior to Caribbean landfall.
Tropical systems often spawn out in the Atlantic at around 11 degrees North, a bit lower than Grenada. On the bright side, environmental conditions typically cause tropical systems to bend north, striking islands higher in the chain. Many boats come to Grenada for the Hurricane season and go no farther.
Today the system folks have been watching became Tropical Depression #4. Not bad to be mid August and still only on number 4 given how nasty the season was predicted to be.
After gathering all of the weather data we could we decided to take a lunch break around the point to the West at True Blue. It is a charming resort and marina with a small Horizon Yacht charter operation and a SCUBA shop. We enjoyed a nice lunch and a bit of dock walking.
After lunch Fred and I dinghied around the south side of Grenada to get a look at the possible hurricane holes we might scuttle off to should the need arise. We took the Red Baron due to its 15 hp outboard, which was well tested in the current and often choppy waters around the south end.
Grenada has several great harbors and bays on the south side that make perfect hurricane holes. The problem is the potential for crowding. This is the place everyone runs to, after Trinidad, when there's a Hurricane scare. Having your boat securely anchored and tied in does you no good if five guys on big, rusty, 60 ton, steel commercial ships show up one hour before the storm hits, drop anchor and split for high ground. This is what wiped out a lot of folks in Port Egmont, otherwise the best hole in Grenada, during Ivan. Get in early, figure out where the big winds are going to come from, and tie up to the mangroves on that side so that no one can drag onto you. Otherwise find somewhere less crowded.
The other big concern is seas. Clarkes Court Bay is a deep hole and generally a great hide out. It is open to the south east though and if you are in the direct hit zone the ocean is going to come a callin'. Ivan brought 12 foot surge into the marina. You don't have to noodle on that too long to realize the potential for mayhem.
After a fruitful exploration of the area we returned to Prickly. Hideko and I began to put together our option in case something developed. We are only insured for named storms if we are south of 10 degrees 50 minutes north. This means Trinidad or Venezuela. We put together a loose plan to evacuate to the Golfo Cariaco in Venezuela and to Port of Spain in Trinidad. Our hope was that things would give Grenada a wide berth but safe travel deadlines would only allow us to hope for so long.