With Don's Streets half a century of experience this book gives you the benefit of his practical know how at sea
Seawise is a collection of ideas and uses for the equipment available to the yachtsman in the 1970s. It has been updated in the light of the new equipment available today and the experience I have gained in my life time. Now in 2004, up-dated and back in print.
A history of the Caribbean and a sailing guide
"Nostalgia, humour and fact"
The Guide that opened the Eastern Caribbean to the cruising yachtsmanb and made bare boat chartering possible.
Detailed Sailors cruising guide to the Virgins and Puerto Rico
"In the beginning was the word and the word came from Street.... Since 1964 all other guide authors have followed in Street's and Iolaire's wake, avoiding the rocks and shoals Street and Iolaire discovered" —Patience Wales, former Editor Sail magazine.
Street's Guides are for Real Sailors. The only cruising guide with detailed inter island sailing directions
If you are looking to get away from it all then this is the guide for you - find quiet and even deserted anchorages in the most beautiful sailing area of the world.
The Only guide to cover Martinique to Trinidad including Tobago and Barbados in one volume
As Dick Johnson, Editor, Yachting World said: "To find a quiet anchorage buy the other guides and circle in red all the anchorages Street describes that are not described in the other guides."
The Venezuelan guide for sailors wishing to explore along the northern coast of Venezuela and the ABC islands.
This guide is out of print. But rocks don't move, so the navigational information is still as valid today as it was when the guide was written in 1989.
Work is in hand to get this guide updated in the hope to have it back in print by next season.
Guide to the Atlantic islands, Transatlantic Crossings, Getting to and leaving the Caribbean from the east coast of the U.S. and an Introduction to the Caribbean
Yes Iolaire is for sale A spectacular deal for the right person. No boat has ever been offered for sale on such favourable and unique conditions - the reason is that I have owned her for 48 years. As each year
Despite the fact that she is 104 years old she is in as good shape as boats that are only 4 or 5 years old.She needs a new home with someone who will take good care of her, sail her and has enough money to keep her in good shape.
Know how from an experienced ocean sailor of half a century
Ocean Sailing Yacht Volumes 1 and 2 is being updated having been first published in the mid1970s, there is a tremendous amount of information on boats and equipment, gear and rigging tricks of the trade.
Don Street has owned Iolaire for 53 years. Note that articles on her have appeared in Yachting Monthly, Classic Boat Nov 05’, Sail Feb 06’and Cruising World March 06’ Iolaire now has a diesel electric engine installation.
She was on the market, but only the right person.
Reason she was on the market as age is catching up with the owner (age 80) but not with Iolaire.
After sailing her for 37 years without the aid of an engine he has broken down and installed small desiel electric power.
Desiel generator in foc'sle where the chain locker was, (chain locker moved forward where over the years a lot of unnecessary spares had accumulated), the electric motor under the navigators seat, result, accommodations remain unchanged.
With the generator in the foc'sle, on deck when it is running it can not be heard, and is barely heard in the skipper's after cabin.
END OF AN ERA THE BEGINNING OF A NEW ONE
With my 80th birthday July 26 approaching, it was time to quit sailing Iolaire while I was still fit enough to run around on Iolaire's deck and do everything.
We, the whole Street family, feel we are very lucky as we have sold the Iolaire to a very good owner Guy Sommers.
He heard Iolaire was for sale, flew to Ireland, spent an afternoon with me, asked me to leave him on the boat the second day, the third day over breakfast he said "I want her lets make a deal".
After 20 minutes talking a deal was made on a hand shake. I quickly typed out a list of things I would do before I turned the boat over to him, signed it and off to the bank to make a 10% deposit to seal the deal while he organized the transfer of the balance.
I am not quitting sailing as early July Gypsy our dragon went back in the water, and the the 80 year old WPOF (well preserved old fart) sailing an 73 year old dragon was out there giving the youngsters (at 80 anyone under 60 is a kid) a hard time.
Racing in Glandore harbor, good starts, good sail trimming, good spinnaker work and some old native animal cunning has kept us competitive against the fiberglass dragons.
Gypsy has not been in commission for 3 years, nor have I been racing dragons for three years so performance has been erratic. We have won some races and in the other races the kids had to work hard to beat Gypsy.
It is truly the end of an era 53 years 4 month of ownership and I have turned Iolaire over to a new owner.
The RORC is 85 years old, Iolaire has flown the RORC burgee for 80 years.
I think those two numbers must be records.
I delivered Iolaire to devon with new owner, he as skipper, me as sailing master.
It was a slow start, motored(diesel electric drive installed 07 flat calm power only) out of glandore then motor sailed for 1/2hr then wind filled in and we shut the engine down.
I went below to sleep. I woke up two hours later, Iolaire did not feel right.
I went up on deck to discover the new owner struggling with heavy weather helm, everything miss trimmed
I sorted things out, properly reefed main, re sheeted yankee to end of main boom, moved the staysail lead from the windward going lead to the reaching lead, set up boom vang, doused missen and we took off at 7/ 7.5 kts with neutral helm.
Glandore to Seven stones light ship 150 miles in 24 hours! dispite slow start.
Glorious night sail with smooth sea and full moon no clouds, doing a solid 7 all night.
As we passed Seven Stones light ship the wind went up and down and changed direction. It made a good sail drill for new owner.
His friend steered while new owner did foredeck under my direction. Four hours close reaching under MPG(light genoa) main, mizzen staysail, and mizzen. It was right up at the limit of MPG and mizzen staysail, smooth sea neutral helm doing a solid 7 1/2 kts, fantastic!.
New owner is a good seaman, builder of dinghies and an electronic specialist.
His buddy that he has sailed with since teen age days DESIGNS motor controllers so the Asmo,electric drive system does not faze them.
I suspect they know more about the system than the boys that put the asmos system together.
Trich and I feel confident that we have sold her to the right owner
To those who would like to keep track of Iolaire's activities go to www.1905Iolaire.com.I
Sailors that know her from the Caribbean are puzzled by the fact that Iolaire is now white.
Sailors would ask me "why is Iolaire red?" my reply"because it matches the numbers in my bank account"!
Iolaire means "white tailed sea eagle" in Gaelic. The name had been on her for 52 year when I bought her so needless to say I did not change the name. It took me a year to find the meaning of the name.
My irish wife Trich insisted that Iolaire "white tailed sea eagle" be painted white for her 100th birthday sooooo
I know that the only thing that is more expensive than a wife is an ex wife so to keep my wife of then 39 years happy Iolaire was painted white.
One problem , when staying at the RORC every time I go to the third floor there on the wall is a beautiful half modle of "the old red race horse " with six photos and a brief history ofIolaire and her previous owners.
nick name used to be sqeaky but with the way I am having holes cut in me nick name should be changed to swiss cheeze
The famous Dragon Fafner has been sold to a really good owner who is planing to install a teak deck and bring her back to sweden to her birth place and race her there. She obviously will be sailing and racing for many more years. For more information please Click Here
D. M. Street Jr., a lifetime sailor, has spent over fifty years cruising, charting and writing about the Caribbean. Forty of those years were spent in his 46ft. engineless yawl, Iolaire, built in 1905, and 6 years on the 28ft engineless yawl L'll Iolaire,( L'll Iolaire was unfortunately lost during hurricane Ivan when a TTM catamaran dragged down on her) in the caribbean.
He now cruises the Caribbean on OPB "Other Peoples Boats", and in europe in the Iolaire, taking part in many of the classic regattas.
There follows a list of errors found in British Admiralty charts both Big Ship and their Leisure Charts.
Cross check British Admiralty, US NOAA and Nautical Publication Charts against the relevant Imray-Iolaire Charts.
If there are differences, then the Imray-Iolaire Charts are correct.
We can say this with confidence as twice in the Compass mariners were asked to send in corrections to Imray-Iolaire Charts, and/or the need to improve them.
So far noting has been received, thus we can only conclude Imray-Iolaire Charts are correct.
ERRORS IN BRITISH ADMIRALITY CARIBBEAN CHARTS AS ACERTAIND BY D M STREET JNR., WHO HAS SPENT THE LAST 50 YEARS CRUISING, EXPLORING, CHARTERING AND WRITING ABOUT THE EASTERN CARIBBEAN.
In 2004 the British Admiralty brought out a set of Caribbean leisure charts.
D. M. Street Jnr., went through them carefully and made a list of all the errors he found. He gave the list to a number of Imray Iolaire chart agents.
That list of errors somehow or other ended up back in the Admiralty hands.
They admitted IN PRINT IN NOVEMBER 2004 Yachting Monthly, that there were errors in the British Admiralty Leisure Charts. arts hThey said the errors weould be corrected using satellite imagery. However, they continued to sell uncorrected charts that THEY KNEW TO BE IN ERROR!!!!!!!!Finally after selling charts the knew to be in error for seven years they discontinued the leisure charts
In contrast to the errors noted in the British Admiralty Charts twice in the winter of 2007 it was announced in The Compass that Imray was completely redrawing the Imray Iolaire Charts electronically as the Head Draughtsman Alan Wilkenson who has been working for Imray for 48 years was coming up for retirement. It was requested in The Compass, the free nautical newspaper that is distributed throughout the Caribbean, that sailors that knew of any errors in Imray Iolaire Charts, would they please contact D M Street Jnr., at firstname.lastname@example.org. No corrections or suggestions regarding changes have been received. Thus, it can only be assumed that the Imray Iolaire Charts are correct.
THE US COAST GUARD USES IMRAY IOLAIRE CHARTS WHY DON’T YOU.
MCA Compliant Yachts are required by law to carry on board the British Admiralty Charts relevant to their area. BUT THE VAST MAJORITY OF OLD TIME CAPTAINS THAT HAVE A LOT OF TIME IN THE CARRIBBEAN THOUGH THEY CARRY ONBOARD THE BRITISH ADMIRALITY CHARTS, THE CHARTS THEY USE ARE THE IMRAY IOLAIRE CHARTS.
Talk to Brian Harrison of Dione Star, Phil Richards of Chanti al Mar, Mark Fitzgerald of Sojana, Phil Wade of Timoneer 11, Hans Hoff (now retired), John Barden of Creole, Jessica (now Adix) Shenandoah, Steve Carson of Adela, Steve Goss of Adix, they and many others rely on Imray Iolaire Charts rather than the British Admiralty Charts. There follows the list of errors found, and there are probably others.
ERRORS FOUND IN BRITISH ADMIRALTY CHARTS OF EASTERN CARIBBEAN NOVEMBER 2010 Most of these errors were reported to the BA in January 2007 and have not been corrected and still appear in BA that have supposedly been corrected.
These charts had been hand corrected to beginning of November.
2047 Anguilla, the lights at Road and Windward points have been out for over 20 years
2005 St Thomas to Roadtown Tortola, wrong in Brenners Bay, Red Hook Enghn Pond St. Johns, Mary Creek,there has not been any customs in Coral Bay for 30 years
Nanny Cay, Sea Cow Bay and Roadtown are all wrong.
2008 St Thomas to Anegada same errors as above plus it shows rock south of Pull and Bedamed Point Camaneo , rock does not exist.
2019 Roadtown to North Sound, errors in Road town harbor, Hodges Cre ek, Fat Hog and Trellis Bays, soundings wrong and the runway extension done about 20 years ago does not show. Rock south of Pull and Be dammed point show but rock does not exist. North sound buoy on Oyster rock established over ten years ago not shown, soundings at Anguilla point entrance and between Pricky Pear, Saba Rock and Bitter end wrong.
2020 Harbors and anchorages in British Virgin Islands, North sound wrong, mistakes listed above. Roadtown harbor dispite the fact that a survey crew was sent out Roadtown
Harbor full of errors. Road Reef marina that has had 9/10 ‘ of water in it for 30 years is show a 4’ deep!!!!! Sea Cow bay wrong, no controlling depths given for the various channels shown
2183 St Thomas harbor and surrounding are Saba island wrong, overhead cable obstructing Krum bay that has been there for at least 60 years is not shown, Haulover
Cut 4.6 meters nuts!!!!! More like 10’.
1025 Anguilla to Barbuda buoy on Proselyte that has been there for fifteen or more years not shown, sounding SE corner of Barbuda nuts
2079 Ports of St. Martin,Anguilla St.Barts. Oyster pond buoyage nuts, Roadharbor sounding nuts and light on Road Point out for 20plus years. Marigot sounding nuts, south bulkhead St Lous marina built about 2005/6 not shown, Groot Baai sounding nuts, no channel shown connecting the north and south side of Simson Lagoon shown dispite this channel being dredged about 25 years ago. No info on depth of channel or width of bridge shown, Gustavia harbor nuts.
254 Monseratt and Barbuda sounding south east end of Barbuda nuts and new hotel with fake light house on west coast not shown.
482 St Kitts Statia Saba, no transits/ranges show for safe passage thru the Narrows. They were clearly shown on the old BA charts but have been deleted.
2064 Antigua , depths Falmouth and English harbor wrong , no warning that range light in Falmouth are impossible to pick out because they are low and lost in other lights, buoyage wrong and no warning that lights and buoyage in Antigua unreliable.
491 Anchorages in Guadalopue Deserade Grand Anse, channel and harbor dredged about three or more years ago, Guadalopue , Grand Bourg nuts, St Louis marina built about 5years ago not shown, Terre Haute, Baie de Pointe Pierre, rock blown out by French divers at least thirty years ago.
371 Martinique wreck off beach of Anse Mitane has not been there for over thirty years, combination of worms feasting and hurricanes, Savan anchorage details 20 years out of date, Trois Islet nuts.
494 South coast of Martinique Cul de Sac marine depths and buoyage appears correct but no marinas shown. The marinas have expanded so much that the completely fill the entire north end of the harbor.
197 Northeast St. Lucia, soundings north side of St. Croix Roads nuts, Rodney bay completely out of date.Channel dredge to 14 ‘ at least 4 years ago.
1273 St Lucia errors as listed above.
502 Harbors of Barbadoes Pt St. Charles inadequate, refer to sailing directions on back of Imray Iolaire chart B 5 .
793 Northern Grenadines Charleston bay 30 years out of date.
794 Grenadines Central Clifton harbor/Frigate island 20 years out of date, Gran Col Pt buoy frequently missing and not replaced for years, no warning.Boats frequently hit the rock when buoy missing. Shoal north of Petit Martinique in line between Petite St Vincent anchorage and Petit Martinique anchorage does not exist, nor does the rock that is shown on the south east entrance/exit from the Petite St Vincent anchorage north of the reef.
795 Grenadines southern part, errors as listed above exist. Watering bay, north east corner of outer reef, there has been a steel freighter 90’ sitting on the reef for 20or more years, great land mark but not shown on chart.
797 Grenada, Grenville ranges/transits not shown, Prickly bay Spice Island marine, channel and Coast guard station in NWcorner of harbor not show so chart 6 years out of date, two western channels into Mt Hartman bay not shown, nor is it mentioned that many of the entrances are privately buoyed but buoyage unreliable. Very few of the marinas are noted, nor the fake lighthouse on Prickley Point that is an excellent land mark noted, basically chart 6 to 7 years out of date.
799 St Georges harbor 3 years out of date, Port St Louis marina built, entrance to lagoon dredged to 16’.
This site will hopefully not be boring. I will be advertising my books, Imray-Iolaire Charts and my services as an Insurance Broker, design consultant for yachts of new construction and altering existing boats, to make them more habitable, more easily handled and in many cases faster and more seaworthy.
But this is not all. Every month there will be a news letter, both interesting and humorous. These bulletins will go into the aspects of what is wrong in modern yacht design and how to fix it— basically articles that no yachting magazine will publish as they are afraid of hurting their advertisers .
Because of electronic publishing all of the books I have written will be back in print, updated guides and the books on boats and seamanship updated in relation to what I have learned since the books originally went into print. Plus the way things have changed vis a vis new equipment that has come on the market.
Street's Guides are available at most good marine bookstores and Imray-Iolaire Chart Agents in the Caribbean. In the States they can be ordered directly from: Armchair Sailor, Thames St., Newport, RI08240 Fax: 401 847 1219 Email: email@example.com and in Europe from: Imray Laurie Norie & Wilson Wych House, The Broadway, St. Ives, Cambridgeshire PE27 5BT England. Telephone:
(01480) 462114 Fax: (01480) 496109 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org For books out of print check Amazon.com/Internet.
Streets' Guides may not be the cheapest
they are the best.
For last months Article: Towboat Hitches
go to Article
page at the top of this page.
For last months Article: Towboat Hitches
go to Article
page at the top of this page
Last months Article: Towboat Hitches
As reported in the discussion on Dorades, yachting magazines regularly have articles on sea sickness, it's prevention and cure. But, they never mention what many sailors feel is the best way to prevent sickness - Make sure the boat is well ventilated, both in port and at sea.
The ventilation on the vast majority of modern yachts is hopeless, as per our discussion on Dorade ventilators. The vast majority of them are water scoops. They put little or no air below decks.
Hatches are in most cases the same, as —although they are water tight— the modern aluminium hatch is also air tight. The vast majority of boat builders install single hinged hatches. I.e. They will only open in one direction. Those hatches that open facing forward are great in port if it isn't raining. The minute it starts raining (or at sea) the hatches must be closed. In northern climates below decks just gets stuffy. In the southern climates - Mediterranean and Caribbean, the boat rapidly becomes a sweat box.
Some boat builders hinge the hatches on the forward end. At sea, if spray is not flying, they can be left open and a good amount of air gets down below decks. But, the minute the spray starts flying, the hatches must be closed. Again causing a stuffy boat or sweat box. Plus the aft opening hatches are fine in the northern climate in port, but in a tropical climate facing aft they gather no air.
The athwartship opening hatches are absolutely useless except on a beam reach, or lying in a marina beam to the wind.
Properly designed hatches can be water tight, and yet suck in plenty of air.
First of all Double Opening Hatches are the solution. They open facing forward in port, facing aft at sea. Fit a good dodger over the hatch, and they can be left open facing aft under the dodger at sea in all but very extreme conditions. There are a few manufacturers of aluminium hatches that are double hinged. But, the vast majority of them you must go on deck to pull the pins and reverse the opening.
Needless to say, with intermittent squalls it is a real nuisance. If the hatch opening forward, a rain squall comes in you must run up on deck close the hatch, change the pins, and opening it aft. All is well. Next minute the rain squall passes and you have to go back up on deck close the hatch, change the pins, and opening it facing forward again.
This is not necessary as I reported in Ocean Sailing Yacht, Volume 2, page 329, illustration 27. A Goiot hatch is a double opening hatch that can be reversed from below decks without having to go on deck. Why all boat builders do not install this hatch is beyond me. They make the excuse that this hatch is too expensive. But, the cost of installing a proper Goiot Hatch, is probably 1/10 of 1% of the coast of the boat. The excuse of expense is not good enough.
One point to remember about the Gigot hatch, there is one point when you are switching the direction of the opening of the hatch, when the hatch is attached to nothing. It could conceivably at this point, blow over board. Thus you should tie to the centre of the hatch a light wire lanyard going down to a pad eye in the cabin head, and so prevent it going adrift. A Gigot hatch with a dodger over it, is a real step forward.
A problem with hatches and water on the modern fibreglass boats is the hatches are either absolutely flush with the deck. The least bit of water running across the deck goes straight below the open hatch. If opened under a dodger, in heavy weather inevitably some water drives under the dodger and comes down below. Just where you don't want it.
The solution to this problem is to mount the hatch on a two inch high coaming. This will minimise the amount of water finding it's way down below.
Of course there is nothing new in yachting. Back in the 1930s, the late Maurice Griffith designed the Griffith hatch. This was a wooden hatch with an inside coaming. See the sketch in Ocean Sailing Yacht Volume 1, page 281, sketch 112. A Griffith hatch, even without a dodger can be left partially open, gathering air and no water coming down below decks. Equipped with a dodger —as per sketch in OSY V.1, page 280, sketch 111— even in extremely heavy weather it can be left open. Then in storm conditions if you have to close the Griffith hatch, as there is an inner and outer coaming, it drains like a properly designed Dorade. Even if there is leaking gasket water will not come below decks.
Besides hinging the Griffith hatch, so it can be opened forward or aft, the ultimate Griffith hatch has hinges on all four sides. When making a Trade Wind passage, on a beam reach and light airs, it can be opened facing to windward, and really suck in air, and if it blows up it can be facing to leeward, under a dodger, and still suck in plenty of air and no water.
Hinges with removable pins are available from Jamestown Distributors
500 Wood Street,
No. 15 Bristol Industrial Park,
Rhode Island 02809.
Phone: 001 401 423 2520
Fax: 001 402 423 0542
Catalogue No. PBI 1192
Needless to say when putting hinges on all four sides of the hatch it is very difficult to get them lined up perfectly, so the pins will fit easily. The way to ease this situation is to drill out the male portion of the hatch, from 5/16ths to 3/8ths fore you fasten the hinges in place. Thus even if there is a little misalignment, the pins can still be inserted.
The ultimate four way opening hatch was designed by Jay Parris for the yacht Lonestar. This hatch appeared in Sail magazine in their June 200 issue. The information on the hatch can be obtained from J. Paris
P. O. Box 459
Presently this is a custom made item and costs a God awful fortune. But if you have a boat worth $1million, the cost of the ultimate four way hatch is very small in proportion to the cost of the yacht. Also, if a boat builder such as Swan, Rassey, Baltic, were to order those hatches in quantity the price would certainly come down to where the yachtsman could afford a J Paris or four way opening hatch.
The proper hatch should suck large quantities of air below decks, both in port and at sea. It should be protected with a good dodger either snapped around a 1-inch high coaming, or on a flush deck boat, made with a bolt rope fed into a aluminium or wooden bolt rope. See Ocean Sailing Yacht Volume 1, page 245. That will allow air get down below and minimise the chances of water going below, even in heavy weather.
You can sort out ventilation with good Dorade ventilators and proper hatches, and you will minimise sea sickness among the crew.
Remember was Dr. Samuel Johnson—the author of the first English dictionary stated — A sure cure for sea sickness is to find yourself a big oak tree and rap your arms around it.
I often discuss the fact that the vast majority of modern yachts are uninhabitable at sea. Many of us feel the reason for this is that the present generation of designers, builders and salesmen were not sailing in the hey day of overnight/off shore racing. The hey day of this type of racing was done in the middle 1950s to the middle 1970s. In those days the cruiser racer practically never raced around the buoys. All the races were overnight or longer. The short races would start off at the yacht club on a Friday evening, have supper/dinner served up underway, 95% of the time on a gimballed table. Cooked on a properly gimballed stove. The off watch went in to sleep in bunks properly fitted with bunk boards or lee canvases. Below deck was properly ventilated. The Off Watch never went on deck unless they were called. If they stuck their noses up on deck without being called the On Watch would feel very insulted and would make comments such as "What the hell's the matter? Don't you think we know how to run our watch?"
The races took were over night, or two nights. Then of course there were the longer ones such as the Bermuda Race and Transatlantic Races, etc. Often at the end of a race one boat would gloat on how they won, but other boats would be putting them down saying "what the hell, you may have won the race but we ate a hell of a lot better than you did."
A good skipper spent as much time and energy recruiting a good cook as he did in recruiting a good Foredeck boss.
In contrast today the cruiser racer spends a vast majority of its racing with the entire crew perched on the weather rail. No one goes below decks. Even on over night races, or longer races like the Fastnet, the entire crew perches on the weather rail for the entire race. Below decks the habitability has been completely forgotten about.
This is not pointed out in yachting magazines Sail Tests articles—a subject I will come back to in some future date on this web site.
Every month we will put out our version of any of several complaints yachtsmen have with all sorts of gear, rules, publications and theories that have been put out to the public and make suggestions as to why the yachtsmen don't like them, and how to fix the problems with them.
Watch this space for:
better yacht design
better chart accuracy
innovative ideas on cruising comfort
better safety gear
and lots more.....
Managing Hurricane-Season Risk for Boats Stored in the Caribbean
by Don Street
Whether or not climate change has increased the frequency or strength of hurricanes, it’s irrefutable that the number of yachts in the Eastern Caribbean has skyrocketed over the past 60 years, and thus more boats are damaged by storms. Insurance losses to hurricanes have also skyrocketed. What can we do to ameliorate the situation?
More yachts have meant more losses
Grenada provides a good example of the expansion of yachting and the related increase of loss exposure to underwriters through the years. In 1892 Grenada was hit by a hurricane, and then by five tropical storms, but no yachts or underwriters suffered a loss. The next hurricane to hit Grenada was 62 years later, in 1954 when Janet struck. Yachting-related losses included the Grenada Yacht Club, then a wooden building set on the steamer pier, being swept away; a couple of small local sloops that had been converted to yachts being damaged; and a dozen locally built Mosquito dinghies being demolished. The losses to marine underwriters, if any, were small.
But half a century later, in 2004, Hurricane Ivan cost the marine underwriters a bundle. Yachting in Grenada had expanded to the point that there were about 175 boats stored ashore for hurricane season. There were probably another hundred or so in commission in the water. In one yard, a hundred boats blew over. Of the boats in the water, about 20 got underway before the storm arrived, bound for Trinidad, Margarita or other locations, and escaped being damaged. Others were secured in various so-called “hurricane holes”, and a high percentage of these suffered major damage or total loss.
But catastrophic loss is not inevitable
Since then, lessons have been learned. Boats can survive with an acceptable percentage of loss in marinas or laid up ashore if the marina is properly designed and boats are properly stored on the hard.
This was proven at Puerto del Rey in Puerto Rico, where the losses as a result of two hurricane hits last September were minimal.
Of the yachts afloat in Puerto del Rey marina during the hurricanes, I’m told that only four percent were total losses and two percent were deemed to have major damage. In the late 1980s, Dan Shelley had Puerto del Rey marina designed so that boats in the marina would have a good chance of surviving a hurricane. The north-south breakwater is 525 yards long, topped by a wall 12 feet above high water. The finger piers are high enough to cope with a three-foot tidal surge. (When I visited the marina shortly after it was built, I pointed out that if he did not build a dog leg of about a hundred yards running northwest from the main north-south breakwater, there was going to be a problem with a “bobble” in the marina whenever the wind went into the northeast, and a disaster if the wind went northeast during a hurricane. In the mid-1990s such a dog leg was built.)
Of the boats on the hard at Puerto del Rey, I’m informed that there was major damage to only three percent, and no total losses — as the first hurricane approached, they double-chocked the boats and tied them down to deadmen with nylon straps.
In December 2017 I checked with every yacht-storage facility in Antigua, St. Lucia and Grenada, asking them to describe their storage facilities and procedures for laying boats up during hurricane season. There were some variations between the yards, but all strap the boats down to deadmen buried in the ground, or to sand screws, or to one-ton concrete blocks.
At marinas, boatowners and marina staff will have to anticipate the effects of storm surges, as well as hurricane-force winds. Are fixed docks high enough to be above water with a three-foot tidal surge? If floating piers, will they stay in place?
The importance of reducing windage
When laying up a boat to withstand a hurricane, whether in a marina or a boatyard, everything possible should be done to minimize windage.
Few sailors, yard and marina owners, or insurance underwriters realize the amount of pressure per square foot generated by high winds. The pressure per square foot goes up with the square of the wind velocity. At 60 mph the pressure is nine pounds per square foot; at 120 mph it is 37 pounds per square foot; at 180 mph it is 83 pounds per square foot!
So, then comes the question: should the mast be unstepped for hurricane storage? The load in pounds on a 60-foot mast is exerted 30 feet above the deck. At 100 mph, the load is 1,700 pounds; at 120 mph, 2,245 pounds; at 140 mph, 3,350 pounds; at 160 mph, 2,425 pounds; and at 180 mph, 5,450 pounds. These loads might be bearable when the wind is in line with the axis of the boat. But with the wind on the beam, with these loads centered at 30 feet above the deck, will a boat on the hard stay upright?
Even if you decide to leave the mast standing, dodgers, biminis, spray curtains, and all sails should come off. Wrapping a roller-furling jib in its sheets might keep it from unfurling, but this gift-wrapped bundle presents a lot of windage aloft. All halyards except the main halyard should be run up to the top of the mast. The boom can be detached and lashed down along the toerail.
The load on dock lines in a marina also goes up with the square of the wind velocity. Thus the load on your dock lines at 40 knots is four times that at 20 knots. Three-quarter-inch three-strand nylon has a breaking strain of 12,600 pounds — but I have recently learned that this figure is for dry line. Wet nylon loses 20 percent of its strength. A splice costs another ten percent and a knot 15 percent.
More hurricane layup thoughts
All boats stored on the hard during hurricane season should be chocked with one jackstand for every eight feet of waterline length. Jackstands must be tied together port and starboard with rebar welded to the stands. Plywood pads must be placed under each jackstand so that it does not sink into soft, rain-soaked ground. The handles must be wired so the jacks cannot unwind. For boats with especially deep keels, the keel should be in a pit dug into the ground to reduce the vessel’s windage aloft.
When laying up a boat to withstand a hurricane on the hard, pull a through-hull so rainwater that is driven below will drain out rather than flood the boat. On the outside of the drain hole, secure two small rods forming an X, or wide wire mesh, to make sure a rat does not enter the boat. I know of a couple of boats that have had this happen with disastrous results. Also make sure there are no termite tracks from nearby buildings or dead trees. I have heard of cases where owners returned to find that termites had destroyed the interior.
When choosing a marina or boatyard for the summer, ask the manager what was the percentage of major damage and the percentage of total loss due to the last hurricane that hit the marina or yard. Then make your decision after you have verified with your insurance company or underwriter that you will be covered for hurricane damage there. It is also important to obtain from the yard manager a signed agreement that the boats on either side of your boat will also be properly laid up to withstand a hurricane. Finally, if you are leaving the island before your boat is hauled and chocked, it is essential that you hire a surveyor to supervise the hurricane-proof layup and send his report to you certifying the operation was properly done.
If staying in commission, have an escape plan
Boats remaining in the water, if in commission and having capable crew, are best advised to avoid “hurricane holes” and forget about riding out a hurricane on anchors or a hurricane mooring. Be ready to take evasive action.
Today, hurricanes are generally well tracked, although the speed with which some intensify has taken many by surprise. (Hurricane Maria developed from a Category 1 to a Category 5 hurricane in less than 18 hours).
Since 1851 only four hurricanes have formed in the Caribbean Sea and then headed eastward: Alice in 1954, Klaus in ’84, Lenny in ’99 and Lili in 2001. There were also two northbound oddballs. In 1872 a hurricane hit Guadeloupe and then headed north, hitting Antigua, Barbuda, St. Barts, St. Martin and Anguilla before heading out to sea. In 1888 a tropical storm developed in the Grenadines and then continued north and hit every island in the chain including Barbuda before heading off into the Atlantic.
All other hurricanes and named tropical storms affecting the islands of the Eastern Caribbean have formed in the Atlantic headed west, seldom altering course more than five degrees in 24 hours. The alteration of course is almost always to the north; any alterations to the south are usually for only 24 hours and never more than 72 hours. Thus, if you plot the position of the center of the hurricane or tropical storm every day, and a ten-degree cone plotted, you have a very good idea of the area where a hurricane may hit — which is where you don’t want to be.
If a hurricane threatens, get underway in plenty of time to reach a safe destination well south of the storm track. Have an escape plan made well in advance, and make sure your maintenance schedule won’t keep you from being able to go to sea on short notice. If the advertisements are to be believed, as long as sheets are eased, multihulls can do 240 miles per day. Thus, 36 hours after leaving the Virgins a multihull can be safely anchored in Grenada or Trinidad. In all of history, Trinidad has only been hit by four hurricanes.
The below is written in light of my 55 years in the insurance business in the Caribbean, with 50 of those years placing insurance with Lloyd’s underwriters through London Brokers.
Those seeking insurance for yachts that spend the hurricane season in the Eastern Caribbean, should investigate the broker and underwriter/insurance company carefully. Here’s an example why. A broker showed up on a certain island selling insurance for a well-known British insurance company, issuing cover notes, and then policies. He was most helpful to all his insureds, even advising them of hurricane tracks and weather. Some small claims were made, which he paid promptly. It was a wonderful operation — until a hurricane approached. The broker was on a plane out before the hurricane hit. It turned out that the whole operation was a complete fraud; the broker had no connection at all with the British insurance company, which denied liability. The “broker” was finally found, arrested for fraud and thrown in jail, but boatowners never collected a cent.
Many smaller, local insurance companies do not rely on their local reserves to pay large claims. They take out “excess of loss” reinsurance to cover major losses. This works out fine if the local insurance company makes sure they have enough reinsurance to cover a direct hit by a hurricane on their island. But once, on another island, a local, old-time, highly respected insurance company that provided insurance of all types failed to keep raising their excess of loss reinsurance contract as they increased the value of the risks they were insuring. When a massive hurricane struck, the amount of money available to pay claims through their reinsurance contracts was not sufficient to cover their losses, and the company went belly up.
I recommend you get insurance through a broker who will place your insurance with either a reputable US or UK insurance company or Lloyd’s syndicate. Check both the brokers’ reputation on successful settlement of claims and the insurance company’s or Lloyd’s syndicate’s reputation on payment of claims. Note: Unlike most of its competitors, Lloyd’s is not an insurance company. Rather, it operates as a partially mutualized marketplace within which multiple financial backers, grouped in syndicates, come together to pool and spread risk. These underwriters are a collection of both corporations and private individuals. Different underwriters have different records on payment of claims.
If your policy doesn’t provide coverage against damage caused by a named storm or hurricane in “the hurricane box”, you can still cruise — you are covered for everything except damage caused by a hurricane or named storm. Check your policy for the southern limit of the hurricane box. If it’s 12°30’N you can head for a harbour on the south coast of Grenada if you are sure a hurricane will enter the Caribbean so far north that it is no danger to Grenada. If your boundary is 12°N, head to Trinidad.
A final word
I witnessed my first hurricane in 1938 — still the most disastrous to hit the east coast of the US, with 486 lives lost, 4.6 billion in modern dollars damage, and 400 boats in Manhasset Bay, where I grew up and learned to sail, either sunk or stacked up on shore. At age 14 I filed my first hurricane-related marine insurance claim regarding damage to my Snipe as a result of the 1944 hurricane. I have survived seven hurricanes on boats. I am presently in the process of settling a claim in Ireland about damage of our property in Hurricane Ophelia. Hopefully, sailors, yard and marina owners, and insurance underwriters will consider the above information before hurricane season 2018.
Don Street’s cruising guides to the Eastern Caribbean, which include his expanded advice about hurricanes, “Reflections on Hugo”, are available at Amazon.com.
DON STREET AND HURRICANES
Don Street’s first experience with hurricanes was the 1938 hurricane that cleaned out the yachting fleet of Manhasset Bay(where street grew up and learned to sail) by putting ashore or sinking 400 boats. Further east in the New London Newport area, it killed 485 people and caused in modern dollars 1.4 billion in losses. It is still the most destructive and expensive hurricane of all times. Then the 44 hurricane , which NOAA refers to as “the great storm” hurricane force winds in a 600 mile circle sinking a US navy destroyer, a light ship and two coast guard cutters. It severely damaged but did not clean out the Manhasst Bay yachting fleet. Snipe number 3 owned by Don Street and his three older sisters survived, but damaged. Street at age 14 filed his firm marine insurance claim as a result of hurricane damage .
In the light of the above, the contention that hurricanes are becoming more destructive is dubious.
Then while skippering the 53’ Abeking and Rassmussen yawl Ondine, he went thru two hurricanes, one in City island, the other in Duck Harbor Llyods neck. In 60 , while delivering Abenaki, a 55’ alden schooner south, he took refuge in the ICWC secured along side a timber barge. All night the hurricane blew logs off the barge that landed on Abenaki deck. In 61 Iolaire survived hurricane Gerda on two heavy moorings, off City Island YC. In 66, delivering Caryl, a fife 8 mete,r from Charleston to St Thomas they were caught by the edge of early June hurricane Alma . Caryl spent four days beating to windward under double reefed main and small headsail.
From 66 to 84, Street and Iolaire were lucky, not involved in any hurricanes . but in 84 Iolaire was caught on the north side of St Martin’s by the late season wrong way hurricane Klaus. Iolaire survived, using six of her seven anchors, how we did it is a story in itself. As a result of being caught by a late wrong way hurricane Street obtained the NOAA hurricane book that shows the track of all hurricanes 1871 to 1980 with up dates that Street regularly obtains and regularly studies almost every year. He has developed a tremendous knowledge of track of hurricanes as they approach the Caribbean and what they do once they hit the islands.
As a result of Hugo, he wrote in all four of his guides Reflections on Hugo 1989. This was followed thru the next five years by almost a dozen articles in Caribbean Compass, and various yachting magazines on wind forces, pressure per sq ft goes up with the SQUARE of the velocity, hurricane tracks easily plotted, go south get out of the path of the hurricane, advise on correct storage ashore, plenty of stands, well tied together , boats tied down to dead men. Street has continually pointing out that there are NO hurricane holes in the eastern Caribbean
However the present generation of sailors were not in the Caribbean in the early 90’s nor were the managers of the yacht storage facilities. The result in 2017 massive destruction of yachts stored ashore, two exceptions, Marina Puerto del rey and Bobby’s yacht storage St Martin. In both cases boats were properly stored with mast out. Result minimal damage.
In marinas the only one that came out well was Marina Puerto Del Rey, 552 boats only 2% sunk, 4% major damage, other marinas varied from major damage to disasters.
Roughly 200 boats fled to the so called hurricane holes of Coral Bay St John, Inner Benner Bay St Thomas and Ensenada Honda Culebra Almost all sank or were very badly damaged.
If Street’s advise had been followed, boats properly tied down, boats gone to sea instead of hurricane holes, losses would not have been eliminated, but losses would certainly been considerably less.
Puerto Marian del Rey has room for another 400 boats in the marina, ashore they are expanding their shore side storage. Certainly it is worth while considering laying up either afloat or ashore in Puerto Marina del Rey.
Street has written articles on the 2017 disasters, in Caribbean Compass March 2018, Cruising Association Journal June 2018, Cruising World August 2018.
In these articles he points out that at 180 mph the load per sq ft is 84 lbs, and the load on a 60 mast exerted 30’ off the deck is 5,450 lbs.
He also wrote an interesting article Cruising during Hurricane season September 2006 Caribbean Compass.
All sailors, managers of yards that store boats, marina and bare boat managers would be well advised to read Street’s articles and follow his advise .
Had Street been in Grenada when Ivan was approaching L’ll Iolaire would have survived Ivan. Street would have headed south to Trinidad, He would have by passed Chagaramus. The anchorage is too crowded, the holding poor and is subject to a reversing tide that makes anchoring difficult. He would have headed south, all the way south to Pointe Pierre, south west corner of Trinidad, 10 N well south of any wind generated by Ivan
L’ll Iolaire almost survived ivan, She was laid up for hurricane season figuring Grenada south of hurricane, but sometimes subject to strong blow by hurricanes passing close to the north of Grenada. All sails and halyards except for the main halyard had been removed to minimize windage. She was on a really good mooring, two bow lines well covered with chafing gear, secured to two separate cleats, lead to the mooring buoy. She weathered the worst of the blow, but was done in as wind ease off by a 50’ catamaran dragging down on her.
This is a perfect illustration as to why to head south, get below the hurricane as no matter how well you have secured your boat, another boat will probably drag down on her and disaster will result.
There are NO hurricane holes in the eastern Caribbean!
In November 2017 hurricane Ophelia scored a direct hit on Glandore on the South West coast of Ireland. Street’s 18’ pulling boat and 83 year old Dragon, the oldest dragon in the world that is still actively and competitively racing survived, but his wifes garden wall did not.
So 78 years after street filed his first insurance claim as a result on hurricane damage, his is now settling an expensive hurricane damage claim
Cruising Magazine Letter
Donald M. Street Jr.
Beken - Fastnet Race 1975
Iolaire at a quiet anchorage - Los Roques
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