Sailboat Life: Jaedin’s Perspective on Hurricane Matthew

by Jaedin Always

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I was sitting inside, listening to 100+ mph howling just outside, when I had a shocking revelation. I was bored. There was a category 3 hurricane right on top of us, and I found it to be…underwhelming. Why did I feel this way? Was the storm somehow grossly overrated? Am I clinically insane? Am I closely related to Chuck Norris? The answer to all of these questions is no. We were simply well prepared.

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Rewind to a week before when we first heard about the hurricane. Even though there was a good chance that it wouldn’t hit us at all we started prepping for the worst case scenario. The first thing that we did was stock up on canned foods, dry goods, produce, and water. We also pulled extra cash out of our bank account anticipating the possibility of a solely cash economy in the event of a power loss. Once the storm is definitely going to hit it gets crazy, huge lines, traffic, and out-of-stock items are common, don’t wait till the last minute or you will be one of the ones in the lines wasting valuable before-the-storm time that would likely be better spent stripping and securing your house or boat.

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After we provisioned, our next priority was ensuring that nothing would fly off of our boat that wasn’t supposed to. We took down our headsail, lashed our main and mizzen to their respective booms, and cleared all loose debris from places exposed to wind. Next we had to make sure all of the drainage holes in the boat were clear of debris and functioning properly, you would be surprised how much drain clogging hair two dogs can produce and subsequently shed. After that, we packed our 3 day supply of food and water, several pairs of clean dry clothes, all of our electronics and valuable items (in case the boat did break free and the first people to find it had less than generous intentions), and our Delorme satellite phone.

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The next step, considering our house is buoyant and thus more easily moved by things like wind, waves, other boats, and flying debris, was to find a secure place to park our home to ride out the storm. Among our options where a sheltered anchorage where we would have to handle our own securing, a local marina in a sheltered cove where we would need to pay somewhat exorbitant prices to be more assured that our house wouldn’t blow away, simply anchoring in the middle of the harbor and depending on the fact that we would need to drag a good mile to hit anything, and the last and arguably most reliable method (which we ultimately chose) which is finding a designated, well sheltered hurricane hole with mooring ball secured to multiple sand screws with high strength rope. We lucked out and found a free mooring in a local hurricane hole, known simply as hole 2, with 2 long steel sand screws and 1½ inch 80,000 pound rated line forming the base of the mooring. Getting into the hole through the narrow entrance channel was an adventure in and of itself. It was about 35 feet wide with a reef on one side and a rock island on the other. This would usually be a doable, if difficult, operation. We, however, needed the help of a few other cruisers considering our 25 foot width and lack of on boat propulsion. When we finally got into the hole we secured the boat to the mooring using 5 different lines, two main lines attached to our forward cleats, two backup lines attached to our forward cleats in case the main lines broke, and a final 1½ inch 80,000 pound rated line tied to the anchor winch in case those lines failed.

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Lastly, we really needed to find a place to stay while we waited out the hurricane, thus cutting down on the pure terror factor and possibility of running aground, smashing the boat, and dying a horrible death. Luckily there was a place called Saint Francis Resort that we were already familiar with that was directly adjacent to our hurricane hole and whose owner was willing to let us and a few other cruisers stay during the hurricane. We stayed in the bar/restaurant for the duration of the storm; it had a hurricane shelter under it capable of withstanding a fair sized missile, a kitchen with its own separate propane fuel system, a backup generator in the event that the main generator housed in another building failed, and all in all had a much lower mind numbing fear and gruesome death factor, thus fitting all of our criteria. Thank you George!

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Fast forward back to the middle of the worst storm of my life so far. At the time that I am writing this sentence, the winds outside are clocking 100+ mph, trees are breaking, debris is flying, boats are dragging and hitting rock, and the sum total of the sand from the local beach is airborne, yet I am sitting here in a squishy inflatable chair, eating pasta, writing, and playing minecraft without a care in the world.

About the Author:

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Jaedin is just finishing up his first year on a sailboat. He has written 10 Reasons I Love Living on a Sailboat and spends his days swimming with dolphins, fishing, snorkeling, practicing his free diving skills and rescuing his mother and sister from barracuda. Jaedin turned 20 in August, about the time that he really became set on the idea of buying his own boat and continuing this sailing life indefinitely.

You can read our other hurricane posts here:

Preparing for our First Hurricane

Hurricane Matthew: Waiting for the Eye of the Storm

Watching from Afar as my Family Preps for a Hurricane (Byn’s perspective from the US)

Weathering Our First Real Storm

Broken Dreams and Happy Endings: The Aftermath of a Hurricane in Georgetown, Bahamas

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