14 July 2005 | Trinidad, West Indies
"....National Weather Service Forecast Advisory #13...Tropical Storm Emily has been upgraded to a Category 1 Hurricane...current position is 11.9 north, 62.3 west, moving WNW at 20 knots per hour...sustained winds of 80 knots, gusting to 105... uh,folks, it's gonna be a rough night..."
We turned off the SSB radio at the end of the transmission. We sat in silence for a few moments. The eye of the hurricane was now only 80 miles from us. The good news, for us, was that she was veering slightly to the north, away from us. The bad news was that she was strengthening, and becoming more organized. The very word "hurricane" struck terror in us.
We were exhausted. We had worked hard over the past 48 hours to prepare for the worst, and now it was here. We felt fairly secure in our marina slip, with double lines forward and aft, and extra fenders on both sides. Our sails were down, decks cleared, dinghy hauled up on shore and filled with water to weigh it down. Everything inside was secured, VHF handheld radios and spotlights were fully charged. We were able to get reliable updates on the radio every three hours from the National Weather Service.
We kept our VHF radio on station 68, monitoring the communications between vessels, to see if fellow cruisers needed help. We periodically checked our lines, and the lines of the boats on either side of us, for chafing. We were up most of the night, just keeping watch, monitoring the conditions.
We were lucky. The winds were not as strong as projected. The swell bounced us all around quite a bit, but our lines held us well. The torrential rains made the conditions seem worse than they really were.
It's just starting to get light. The worst is over. Ok, we've just been through our first hurricane, and have learned a lot. It was a rough night, but other than a few new leaks around hatches and portholes, we seem to be just fine. A lot of other boats had problems, but many were just not as prepared as we were. There are still high winds in the mountainous areas of Trinidad, with flooding, and loss of electrical services in some parts, but no reports of other damage. We have not yet heard reports of damage on Grenada or the other Windward Islands.