Today as I sit in our hurricane house kindly provided by the Greensmith family I’m thinking about it a all…like everything. Probably best not to ponder on what ifs. We’ve been seriously lucky. We are delighted to be able to sail another day on our adventure & intend to appreciate every second. We came very close to another reality entirely at the hands of hurricane Irma, the worst atlantic hurricane ever.
The community here have been amazing. Rachel and Ollie took in 4 extra families and 7 extra kids, 2 extra dogs & 2 more cats and us. We were in a new build house on the first floor with storage underneath. Chris and I had made a plan should the roof have come off & were looking at ways to protect our 2 young children who we’d exposed to this risk. The trouble was we would have needed to go outside down an external staircase to reach shelter. The windows were apparently hurricane proof & double thickness with a cat 5 storm with winds sustained of over 185mph heading towards us, we were nervous.
Mild hysteria built across the 2 houses over the day. Part of me was thinking it was going to be nothing but the other half realised we were at risk of loosing everything. We prepped the boat as much as we could and the reality was we needed to keep our family physically safe. We were anticipating devastation.
Some great thoughts from friends at home. Offers of local contacts & tips on chaining ourselves to underground pipes! It shaped up to be a long night and all the while I hoped the worry was for nothing but the media was painting a different picture.
The kids didn’t realise the magnitude of the storm given that they have been through 2 hurricanes in Bermuda. Harry understood the need for prep and the risks of a hurricane but he was definitely more interested in the hurricane party with friends.
The family pretty much slept through the whole thing. Rum definitely helped Chris out! I do wonder how they slept as the rain sounded like a football crowd at Wembley stadium. It was wet, wild and annoyingly dark outside so It was hard to see what was going on. The gusts were big & made you flinch as they hit. The worry was losing the roof, but that happened to a handful of houses in Antigua. Other bits of some properties have flown. The power went out at 2000 but we had a generator from the main house next door. To our knowledge there was minimal flooding on the south of the Island despite storm surges.
So an unprecedented storm in the Atlantic….not sure I signed up for that. We seriously dodged a bullet. The boat was the least of our worries once we realised what a beast Irma was. We were fortunate that despite a mess in the yard & damage to the dock, Fille de Joie looks in one piece at first glance.
We got through & very luckily were a little to the south of Irma. The same cannot be said for Barbuda. The low lying sister island of Antigua is only maximum height of 150m above sea level 90% of the buildings have been utterly destroyed. There was 1 fatality reported- horrendous but we were fearing much higher numbers. St Barts, St Martins and the BVIS are also feeling the full force from the northern wall of the eye. We are thinking of friends there and anyone else in Irma’s path.
Normal life will not resume until tropical storm Jose passes Antigua, which should be sometime on Friday or Saturday. The track looks well north but we aren’t going to take any chances and will keep the boat on the hard until after that.
I might have said it once or twice before but it really is well past the time we should head south towards Grenada. We ll have 5 days before Chris heads to Europe for a regatta, so let’s hope for some decent weather so we can get a shifty on and get down there.
Thank you for all the kind messages of support, we appreciated everyone & are feeling the love. Much love from the Drapers xx