Heading into hurricane season

Atlantic hurricane season is widely recognized by sailors and insurance companies to be from June 1 to November 30. According to a forecast released by the Weather Company:

The 2016 Atlantic hurricane season is expected to be the most active since 2012.

As hurricane season approaches many boats in the Bahamas are heading north to Florida and beyond. A seemingly smaller contingent are heading south.

Currently, we are in Calabash Bay, anchored off of Long Island, Bahamas. We plan to head back to Georgetown to wait for a weather window to head south to Luperon, Dominican Republic (DR).

Luperon is considered to be a safe spot to stay during hurricane season. However, Luperon falls within what most insurance companies refer to as the “hurricane box“, herein referred to by me as THE BOX. (Note: exact location of THE BOX varies depending on your source).

According to weather guru, Chris Parker:

Almost any location can be a good spot in a Hurricane – if it’s in the correct place relative to the path of the Hurricane.

That said, there are certainly places which offer very good protection in all but the worst-case scenarios:

The most-secure spot for protection may be Luperon, DR.

Chris Parker’s opinion seems to be consistent with that of other cruisers.

Logistically, Luperon fits our plans for a few reasons. First, we are not in a hurry to travel the Caribbean islands. Second, if we can help it – we don’t want to rush through the Caribbean just to get outside THE BOX. And, lastly, we may head back to Georgetown, Bahamas in September because Rick has an interesting sailing opportunity. More on that later.

From what we’ve read and heard, cruisers either love or hate Luperon. Those that love Luperon speak of the friendly people. The haters speak of corrupt officials, contaminated fuel and a dilapidated dinghy dock.

We expect there to be some challenges. And, avoiding mosquito-borne illnesses will be one of them. Our travel doctor, Dr. Robert Birnbaum says that he hears “about diarrhea problems continually from Haiti, the Dominican [Republic] and Cuba.”

Our friend Dave Houston thinks we’re in for a long summer. He might be right. That said, we are looking forward to experiencing a culture that is different from our own. And, we hope to expose our children to Spanish.

The weather plays a huge factor in the route that we will take to Luperon. There are no definitive maps or guides of the route from Georgetown to the Dominican Republic.

In his book, “The Gentleman’s Guide to Passages South: The Thornless Guide to Windward“, author Bruce Van Sant suggests:

[The] more guides, the better, since every author has slightly different viewpoints.

Van Sant’s book provides a two-page description of recommended yachting guides, charts, almanacs and tide tables.

Last week, we put out a request on the Georgetown cruisers’ net. We asked for maps or cruising guides for the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Puerto Rico. A boat called “Climate Change” responded to our request and we are now the owners of a treasure trove of charts.

Now, of course, we have to read them. And, while we work out a route to Luperon, we are also considering our long-term sailing plans.

As I mentioned, Rick might be sailing in September 2016 from Georgetown. Rick has connected with some people who are very familiar with our catamaran. Rick would be sailing with these people – in another St Francis 50 – from Georgetown to Annapolis for the Annapolis Boat Show. He would be away for about three weeks.

I think it’s a fantastic opportunity. I just hope he doesn’t come back gung-ho to lift one of our hulls out of the water.

I shall describe our long-term sailing plans in a separate blog post. Let’s get to Luperon first.

As I write, another Canadian family, on a boat called “Singing Frog” has lifted their anchor and is leaving Turks and Caicos, heading to Luperon and still further south.

We enjoyed meeting “Singing Frog” very much. They are sending us updates about their trip by email. While their destination is different, their goal is the same – to get out of the path of a possible hurricane.

If you are interested in the way that hurricane season alters behaviours on land, see my blog post called, “Antigua: Signs that Peak Season is Over.”

2 comments

  1. Excellent, informative post! Really good to know. I’m about to move most of my crap into storage and then live on the hook around the Great Lakes this summer. Then the plan is to head to bluer/warmer water and I had not given hurricanes that much thought. Thanks a bunch for the heads up!

    Like

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