Posted by: bearcruzer | September 20, 2010

Store Bay Storm

Sept 8-10th,2010

We had picked up a mooring upon our arrival in Store Bay and had been enjoying a number of days of calm weather and smooth seas in our anchorage.   After a few day apart from the other 3 boats,  they had joined us in Store Bay and we were enjoying a reunion at Bagos Bar.   We had been keeping a close eye on the weather for the last few days as we were trying to decide when to move over to Trinidad.    We looked to the horizon and saw an unexpected large wall of ominous dark clouds to the south of the Island moving quickly in our direction.   Nothing we had seen on any of the weather sites we visit regularly was predicting anything more than a few showers but this definitely did not look good.    We visited for a few more minutes and then headed back to our boats to make sure all was battened down.   The winds began to blow.   We quickly brought in the laundry we had drying on the lifelines just as the first of the squalls hit.    We were all on moorings and so felt relatively secure as the storm began to cause some large swells in our anchorage.   This false sense of security was to prove disastrous for a number of boats.    As the night wore on, the seas and swells turned ugly and began coming in from the southwest where there was no protection from the open ocean.    Dancing Dolphin was soon hobby horsing over 3 – 4 foot swells on her mooring.    We were tossed about throughout the night and with the continued squalls intensifying did not get much sleep.    The first light of morning illuminated the carnage caused by this freak storm.    In the grey light we could make out 2 sunken glass bottom boats, still attached to their moorings, but this was not the worst of it.    A small sloop by the name of Rebel was on the jetty in front of the resort and was being bashed against the rocks by the unrelenting swells.    The mooring they were tied to, still attached to their boat, was also up on the rocks.   An Anchor had also put out, along with being tied to the mooring, but it too had failed under the confused and erratic seas coming into this small bay.   Her engine was non functional.     We were later to learn of the harrowing night of its occupants.    John and Katie had been living aboard and had recently opened a small business called Store Bay Marine Services that provided a Laundry, Internet, and other services to the Yachting Community of Tobago.   They had only a minute and a half from the time the boat broke free to when she hit the rocks.   Katie was thrown overboard and washed over the jetty and was hauled into their dingy by John, they made it to shore with only the clothes they were wearing and nothing else.   They had actually been planning to haul the boat in the next few days to repair the engine and get Rebel back in working order.   It was a horrific scene.   As the storm continued its rage through the morning, we watched helplessly.    A terrible cracking and crunching could be heard as Rebel lost the battle and eventually split down the center of her beam breaking in two.   The mast too snapped and fell across the jetty as she sank ever deeper.    In situations such as this there is really nothing that anyone can do as the wind and swells prevented any boats from coming to her rescue.   It was heart wrenching to watch but we were grateful to hear that John and Katie had escaped serious injury.    When the storms fury finally abated, the looting began.   A number of John and Katie’s friends tried in vain to dissuade those few desperate individuals who scoured the rocks picking up bits and pieces but to no avail.   Friends began taking up collections of food and clothing for the couple who have taken up residence in their small storefront.    We offered to try and free dive to see what we could salvage for them but were informed that they along with some of their friends would be scuba diving on the wreck to try and salvage as much of her hardware as they could along with any personal effects they can find, if any.    The Glass bottom boats fared a bit better.   A couple of days after the storm,  the owners were able to use floats to raise them enough to pump out the water and then tow them around the point where they will be repaired and put back into the fleet.

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