Riding Out Category 4 Hurricane at Anchor

Here's an eyewitness report from Hurricane Ivan in Grenada. This email was recently forwarded to us by a SetSailor, and we thought it would be of interest to the community.

Well-I hope you will forgive me for writing this letter on such a non-personal basis but it is the best way to get the news out that we are alive-and yes, we still have a boat.

Two days ago Hurricane Ivan (cat 4) hit us with 140-mile-an-hour winds, with the eye passing over southern Grenada. It has been 50 years since there has been a hurricane in Grenada, and for insurance purposes it is considered a non-hurrricane zone, where people are encouraged to go for the hurricane season. NEVER has there even been a Category 3 hurricane this far south.

We had been watching it for quite some time and kept hoping for and anticipating it to take a turn north, the way most good hurricanes do. This one would go north, but then dip south again. The end result was that instead of passing over Martinique, it came here.

Grenada's two marinas are no more-Martin's Marina and Clark's Court are destroyed, totally. Spice Island Boatyard had 156 boats topple over that were stored on land. I have not heard from St. David's but understand it was the same there.

We are normally anchored in Prickly Bay, but when I realized this thing was not heading north the way I wanted it to, we moved around to Clark's Court Bay, which is a lot more protected. Rather than take my chances with the boats in the marina, we decided to take a mooring-3000 lb concrete, then I cheated and tied to another mooring a bit further away with a spare anchor rode. Then I put out a 66lb Bugel anchor in the direction of the opening to the ocean, basically south. As we heard the thing was increasing in strength, we made the decision not to stay on board, and with a group of others checked into a hotel-and waited. At 2pm it came and lasted for FOUR hours, incredible. We watched the houses around us lose their roofs. Then the floor above us lost its roof. We ran around to a conference room that had very few windows, and one side was built into the hill we were on. Then we watched the radio tower go down, one of two a couple of hundred feet high.

We lost the lights right at the beginning and sat thru the night-trying to get some sleep but all worried about our boats.

The next morning we walked from our hotel near the Spiceland Mall all the way to Clark's Court-Doug and Linda know this is a hike. It took us thru a lot of residential areas-all of them were without roofs, no lights, no water-a true war zone. There was not a cop to be seen, no military, no radio stations telling people what to do, where to go, nothing. They were ill prepared for anything like this. There are emergency procedures, but no one practices them nor is it taken seriously.

Anyway, when we got to the marina we were all devastated-there were no docks left. Boats were piled on the rocks, mangroves, and yes, literally sunk-unfortunately our friends on MARILDA lost their boat-it was crushed. We helped them salvage stuff and she slept on our boat and he spent the night ashore sleeping with the stuff salvaged. Another boat with a friend of ours aboard AN AMEL sank-he got off just in time. No salvaging there. PSYCHE was sitting in the water on her waterline, VERY close to shore. We have extensive damage, including a hole in the deck, a bent bow roller-some of you know that mine was very substantial. We may have a slightly bent rudder, our stanchions are all bent but the rig is up and no water inside, dry bilge. Generator did not work, refrigerator did not work but we had an engine that works-oh yes, our steering is also out. We have gouges in the hull and the wooden toerail. We will probably exceed our deductible. Ouch.

Eyewitnesses saw our boat drag the concrete blocks almost all the way to Hog Island, then the wind shifted and we came back the other way. Somewhere along the line we lost the block with our secondary anchor line-which had 75 chain. When I got on the boat, one concrete block was still attached to the bow, as was the anchor-which kept us from dragging ashore. The marina is a total loss, both piers gone and boats piled on top of each other. Horrible-remember we know a lot of these folks.

On the island there is no water, no electricity, no law enforcement, nothing. We know of some looting and of one death on a boat-again someone we know. Also there is no phone service, including cell phones. Satellite phones have been the only way-along with SSB and Ham.

Today I was very, very fortunate to find a fellow from Enza Marine who had done some work for me before and he has got me going again on my generator and refrig. He is now working on the steering.

These are essential if we plan to get the boat repaired-it won't be repaired here-no facilities, so we will have to move on to Trinidad. Can't do that unless you can sail the boat.

Tomorrow I will try to retrieve my anchors and generally straighten out the boat.

Debby will leave for Florida toward the end of the week to help my mother with her house-which has holes in the roof and no windows. I will stay and contemplate my good fortune of still having a boat, a dry place to sleep, a working head, power, something cold to drink etc. None of this is available on the island, at least the southern part.

That is it folks-a missive from hurricane-free Grenada.

Posted by Sarah.Dashew  (September 26, 2004)

One Response to “Riding Out Category 4 Hurricane at Anchor”

  1. SetSail » Blog Archive » Anchoring System Logic Says:

    […] you want to read more about Hurricane Ivan here are two links to our archives. Ridding out Ivan at anchor. Interview with Sundeer 64 Owners after Ivan. Posted by Steve Dashew  (January 12, 2010) […]