Saturday, August 4, 2012

Hurricane Hole in Grenada

Alianna at anchor in Tyrell Bay
We had it all planned out. The Carriacou Regatta was approaching. Sim was going to race on our single hander friend Ken’s boat, SV My Sin, a Dufour half tonner. It’s a small 30ft boat but apparently fast for its class. We would watch all the colouful work boat regattas and join in all the festivities like the potluck and the auction that are held by the cruisers in order to raise money for the education of the children of Carriacou. But like the best laid plans of mice and men, things don’t always go to plan. A large blob on our laptop screens weather page was showing an area of disturbed weather, a tropical wave coming off the coast of Africa. This is how many hurricanes get started. As they move closer to the Caribbean they become better organized forming into a Lo and then a tropical depression before they turn into a hurricane.

Lots of blobs and TD Ernesto
At the lower latitudes of the Caribbean, like Grenada and Carriacou the longer the storms take to develop off the coast of Africa the more potential they have for hitting us down south. If a hurricane does form it has a tendency to turn north. But this blob was slowly moving westwards and straight towards us as a strong tropical wave with the potential for worse. We hoped it would give early signs of turning north so we could stay in our beautiful and peaceful spot in Tryell Bay but it wasn’t to be. So it was time to make some decisions, Grenada, Trinidad, Venezuela or to stay put as some boats were. During hurricane season we always have to be prepared to make decisions and move the boat if necessary to put her somewhere safe where neither she nor ourselves can come to any harm or cause any damage ourselves.
Port Egmont
Three days before it was due to arrive we decided that we would leave Carriacou and head to Grenada to an all enclosed lagoon called Port Egmont. It was full moon at the moment which means higher tides and stronger currents. Which fortunately turned out to be in our favour. We flew across the gap between Carriacou and Grenada hitting well over 9 kts at times which for us is a first. We sailed down the east coast of Grenada in a gusty 20kt breeze and arrived at Port Egmont in record time. Port Egmont is surrounded by pretty little green hills with some very expensive looking mansions. The bay is completely landlocked so we are protected from the seas and the holding is excellent in thick clay. The edge of the lagoon is surrounded by mangroves – a tree that grows in muddy tropical coastlines with strong roots. The bow of a boat can be pushed up into the mangroves and lines tied to their strong roots – a well (but not on Alianna) practiced hurricane tack tick. There is room for plenty of boats to tie into the mangroves if necessary but as it was 15 of us were all anchored with plenty of swinging room around us and room if more boats arrived.  To be honest I was fairly surprised how few boats were in there.

The entrance to Port Egmont
As it turns out the now named Tropical Storm Ernesto passed to the north of us near the south coast of St Lucia. We didn’t have to prepare for the worst by tying into the mangroves. We sat limply at anchor, the storm sucking all the wind to the north of us and waited for the surge of wind and rain that was expected later that afternoon. Thunder, lightening and huge amounts of rain fell but that was about all the bad weather we saw. Now that we have arrived in Grenada I guess we are here to stay for a while. All we have to do now is decide which bay to go and anchor in and watch out for the next blob.

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