Posted by: bearcruzer | November 3, 2010

Hurricane Tomas

Oct 29-Nov 1, 2010

We compared notes again in the morning and found that we had all gotten up in the middle of the night for the 2:00am weather update from NOAA.  The disturbance was now upgraded and named, Tropical Storm Tomas.  It also had taken the more northerly of the tracks and was due to arrive with plenty of rain and winds gusts > 39mph within the next 24 hours.   We joined a small floatilla of boats all moving from outside of the bay into the protection of the Marina.  Misery loves company and we had plenty, company not misery.  We shared the G dock with s/v DaniellStorey, s/v Diana, s/v Good Medicine, s/v Beauty and the Beast, s/v LosLoper , s/v Songbird, among others.   We nestled DD into her slip and spent the rest of the day securing her to the dock with at least a dozen lines spiderwebbed in every direction and adjusted her ½ dozen fenders between her and the finger dock.   We put on her sail cover and then lashed ropes around it to keep it from billowing in the strong winds.  Wound her headsail tight with extra wraps of rope.   We stripped her of her bimini and dodger,  removed the blades from the Windgen,  lashed down the Solar Panels, brought in the chartplotter and the handheld cockpit VHF microphone, and stowed anything that wasn’t attached securely to the boat.  She looked naked but ready.   There was no shortage of advice on preparing the boats for impending weather and plenty of hands to help.   After securing our own boats the crews of G Dock then proceeded to secure unattended boats around us as a precautionary measure.  A family of 10 from Poland who had chartered a sailboat for a holiday, suddenly found themselves hiding from a Hurricane.  They decided to remain on the boat and were delighted to glean whatever information and assistance we could offer to help them prepare for the storm.     TS Thomas continued on a heading that would take it between the Islands of St. Lucia and St. Vincent.    It was predicted to become a hurricane after passing the Islands but changed its mind and decided to slow its forward progress and linger becoming a Category 1 hurricane just before it reached the Islands.  The eye was expected to pass just south of St. Lucia around 2:00pm on Oct 30th.      The winds began in earnest around 11:00am and we were without power and fresh water within the first hour.   Many of the cruisers, not being afraid of a little wind and weather, donned their foul weather coats and ventured out and around the docks during the light of day.  Mike and Dave were almost blown off of the dock by a couple of strong gusts.   I went out to snap a few pics around the Marina of the last minutes adjustments and preparations.    While leaning into the wind next to the dingy dock, I caught a small movement in the foliage next to me.  A wet but still industrious hummingbird was enjoying a last minute meal before the winds became too strong to maneuver.  He would release his hold on a twig, be blown back a few feet and battle his way back into the shrub, again grabbing hold and feeding on the red flowers that were within reach.   Boats continued to stream into the marina as the storm intensified.  We handled lines for a large Catamaran who took a couple of tries battling the wind before we were able to grab his lines and tie him off to the dock.   Around twilight we heard a loud tearing and pounding.  An unattended Catamaran a few slips away from us lost its headsail.  A couple of men climbed aboard and braved the winds to drop and stow what was left of it. There was very little fetch inside the marina but during a few of the bigger blows, waves could be seen breaking against the hulls of the boats on the outer docks.   As darkness fell the wind and rain became steadier.  The neighbors of G dock retreated into their boats to watch the storm from portholes, hatches and windows. The winds and rain continued to build during the night as the eye moved out into the Caribbean.  Being that St. Lucia was now situated on the Northwestern edge of the Hurricane she was hit with storm force winds and rain for a more extended period of time than St. Vincent to the south.   It is amazing how water with the help of wind can find its way into any small gap, crack, or crevice.   The rain and wind abated around 10:00am the next morning.  The Crews of G Dock emerged from their boats damp but intact.  We only saw a couple of unattended sailboats with damage to covers or sails however there were a few smaller powerboats that did not fare as well and had sunk during the storm, still tied to the dock.  During the entire storm we never lost internet service and so were able to keep in touch with family and friend back home.  We contacted our cruising friends that were further south to make sure they had weathered Tomas safely.   Domino, made a 1:30am dash back to Grenada from Bequia when they saw Tomas shift north, ah the advantages of a powercat.  Nauti – Nauti took a mooring on Canuoan and made it through.  Queen Emma reported Admiralty Bay in Bequia was a washing maching with a number of boats sunk and one demasted as well as others who had to motor around because of poor holding.   Hurricane Tomas generated winds in excess of 70mph on the Island of St. Lucia though I don’t think Rodney Bay saw much over 50mph.  It also dumped 8 inches of rain causing massive Mud and Landslides destroying homes, roads, and bridges.  There are 14 reported dead with another 7 missing. Soufriere near the Pitons is completely cut off from the rest of the island with all roads leading to it destroyed.     Power is being restored as quickly as possible.   Many areas are without clean drinking water and are cut off from getting supplies. Only 1 of 4 radio stations on the Island remained up and running during the ordeal and has provided a steady stream of information allowing persons to call in who are looking for contact with friends and family and answering questions about services and relief efforts.  Communications are slowly being reestablished, Digicel, the primary provider of Cell Phone communications has given all their prepaid customers $10.00 credit for them to be able to contact family and friends across the Island.   We spent the day after the storm putting DD back together and are now anchored back outside of Rodney Bay.   We are greatful that such a wonderful hurricane hole is here.  The graciousness of the people of St. Lucia will not be soon forgotten and we pray that those who have lost family find peace and that the lives that have been so disrupted by this storm may return to normal as quickly as possible.

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Responses

  1. So glad to hear you and DD are safe and sound. gives us chills to think about it!! Hurricane season is almost over…stay safe.
    PB & J


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