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DON'S LOG: stories, experience and advice

Surviving Klaus

In October 1984 one low after another blasted thru Antigua. Iolaire was hauled on the north side of Antigua in Crabbs, no screw jacks, just wooden A frames jammed against the boats, then wedges driven in to hold the boats tight. 


When lows came thru the boats shook so much the wedges would fall out so we finally re drove them and nailed them in place.


We launched early November and headed to St Thomas for the St Thomas Charter Boat show. We stopped off at St. Barts to load beer, booze and wine. The next day sailing to St Martin it was blowing so hard out of the south that we only set the missen and staysail. The wind was out of the south so anchoring in Philipsburg was a no no. We sailed to pt Basse Terre, then headed east along the north shore. It was blowing hard enough to put Iolaire’s lee rail down despite only having missen and staysail set.


We sailed by Marigot as I felt there would be boats dragging, so continued on to Bay de la Potence. We anchored on two anchors set in a Y. It was blowing hard, but anchors were well set, St Martin was to windward, so there was no sea. All was well until the police launch came by and said “ “Cyclone”, hurricane. I stood facing the wind which was from the south, extended my right arm, hurricane center was to the west of us so no problem. Hurricanes below 19 N always go west or north of west so hurricane would be going away from us.


All was well until an weather forecaster who said he had been forecasting and reporting weather in Puerto Rico for fifteen years and this was the first hurricane that he had ever heard of that was heading east.


This would mean that our wonderful anchorage under the lee of St Martin would end up as the hurricane approached and the wind veered , to become an exposed anchorage with St Martin under our stern!!!! It was too late to go to sea, and the only person that knew how to open the bridge so boats could get into Simson bay had pulled a disappearing act. The radio was continually asking people to find him and get him to open the bridge. He was never found until after the hurricane had passed!!!


I told my excellent Grenadian Mate Les Duncan to pull out all our spare anchors, lines and lengths of chain which we connected up. We then moved it all to the foredeck and coiled it down. As the wind veered our port anchor line went slack, the load came on the starboard anchor alone. So we dropped another anchor underfoot, ease line on our stb anchor until we had the load evenly distributed between the two anchors. Later the wind veered more so port anchor went slack all load on anchor number 3, so again we dropped an anchor under foot veered line on anchor number 3 until load was evenly distributed between anchors 3 and 4. We repeated this process until we were finally lying facing due north riding on anchors 5 and 6.


How hard it blew no one knows accurately as the wind gauge at the airport blew apart at 80kts.


We survive Klaus, while literally dozens of boats went ashore but no yachting magazine would publish an article on how we survived Klaus but all had articles about boats that did not survive Klaus


We survived because we had seven ancbors available.  We  were able to do this  as  we  had on board  big fortress that disassemble and stows in a bag and a big  danforth  which I  had altered so that it was easy  to stow  and took up little space.


To altera  danfroth, cut off  the cross arms where they  join the flukes. Tap the hole  in the  fluke, and the  hole  in the cross  arm, fit a pipe nipple  into the  cross arm, shove   some grease into the hole in the fluke, tape   both arms  ro the  stock of the  anchor stow and hope  youj do not have to used  it.

Both the  danfroth, and the  fortress once  dug in  will hold an incredable load.

 To the danforth and  fortress attach aout  two fathems  of 3/8  chain and 5/8 nylon and hope you never have to use them.

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