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DON'S LOG: stories, experience and advice

HANDS-ON SAILOR Article "Hurricane Whole"

There is no other yachtsman or yachting author that can match Don Street’s experience with hurricanes ashore and afloat, gained over the last 78 years,or his knowledge of Hurricane tracks as they approach the Caribbean gained since 1984 when he obtained from NOAA Tropical Cyclones in the North Atlantic 1871 to 1980. From 84 on he regularly obtained loose page up dates until 2017 when he obtained the new NOAA book 1851 to 2008 with up dates thru 2017.
All this is backed up with 58 years cruising , chartering ,exploring, charting , racing and writing about the Eastern Caribbean. Obviously his advise should be seriously considered and followed if possible.

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 Watch Hill Westerly RIarea, it killed 485 people and caused in modern dollars 1.4 billion in losses. It is still one of 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 and  probably  numerous over age freighter carry WW 11 supplies.

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 .The suveyor was  very  kind to four kids who owned the boat.

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 from a hurricaned 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 meter 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 he did it is a story in itself.  See Surviving Klaus in this webb site.


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  1990 in all four of his guides Reflections on Hugo. This was followed thru the next five years by fifteen articles in Caribbean Compass, and various yachting magazines in US and UK on wind forces, pressure per sq ft goes up with the SQUARE of the velocity, hurricane tracks south of 19 n are 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 had 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. The  information contained  in all these articles follows in this web site.

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. An  updated and expanded  version of this article appears in this webb site.


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.

 In 1944  Street settled his first hurricane damage insurance claim. 78 years  later on the other side of the ocean,he has settled a E 12,00 claim to tepair a collapsed garden wall caused  by hurricane Ophelia.

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