DAVE B's LOGS : Hurricane Ivan

Wanted to let everyone know that we are okay, hurricane Ivan passed about 25 miles to the north of Bonaire. It was very "intense" on Tydewi for a couple of days. We were tracking the progress of this storm since it came off Africa about a week prior to its arrival in Bonaire. The weather guys here were saying all along that it was a real strong storm. When we hear that, we download NOAA weather charts every morning and evening into the computer from the SSB. What really had us worried is when it hit Grenada and continued west, not turning north like hurricane Charlie and Frances did.

On tuesday, Sept 7 it still had not turned so I made the decsion to go into the marina and ride out the storm tied to the docks. It is a very nice, new marina with concrete docks and very secure location. We got tied up at about nine a.m. got the cable tv hooked up and started watching the weather channel. At this point the Weather channel was not reporting very much on it, maybe once an hour. We had cable tv while in the marina and could watch cnn and weather channel.
But it was obvious that it would come close to Bonaire, so we decided to strip the boat down to bare poles, that means that all the canvas, sails and anything loose had to come inside the boat. We did not get much sleep that night worrying and watching the sky.

The next morning we got a rain squall that lasted only 30 minutes or so, with some wind, that was enough to raise our pucker level. Then about 1pm it started blowing off and on rain and wind, still nothing severe, but kept the boat rocking and bouncing. Decided to try to take our minds off the storm and made a big pot of spagettti and meat balls, the last supper?

We rocked and rolled all night, Ivan passed enough to the north of us that we only got winds in the 35 mile per hour range. The storm surge and waves came in the next morning, but the marina is well protected from waves, so when the sun came out about 10 am we knew we had made it thru okay. The beach front in Bonaire was pounded with heavy surf and several of the docks were destroyed that morning. The whole island was shut down for the entire day everyone very relieved that we were so lucky. We were physically and more so, mentally exhausted. We slept well that night, after a few gin and tonics to celebrate.

The next day we had to once again rebuild the boat, everything had to be put back on. Took nearly the entire day. Tried to get email messages out but electricty was off on the island until late Friday night. All the food comes in to Bonaire by ship from Curacau so the store shelves were empty, we expect to see supplies come in on Monday.
Several things became very obvious during this ordeal.

  1. We were very lucky.
  2. This thing called a hurricane is an incredible event to live through.
  3. If it had hit directly on Bonaire, we would have possibly lost the boat and every thing we own. The docks in the marina are permanent, not the floating type. It we were hit directly we would have had a 6-10 foot surge. That means that the boat would have been about 5 feet higher than the docks, at which point all the boats would have broken loose and washed ashore with the wind.
  4. We could have run south to Venezuela, about 70 miles, but some cruisers did this and were caught in huge seas and storms from Ivan. So our decision to stay was a good one, but also a lucky one.
  5. People handle the threat of a hurricane very differently. There were about 20 boats like us in the marina. Some got drunk, some worried (Betty) and some were very laid back. Some got down right mean, there was a christian couple on a catamaran on the dock behind us and they were screaming and hollering at everyone. They had dock lines and anchors strung all over everyone elses lines and were ready to get physical if any one touched their lines, of course I had a cable cutter ready to cut the line they put next to us if push came to shove......but then Sunday came and they returned to thier Christian ways.....
  6. You cannot understand the power of the water in a storm. There were 45 foot waves in the center of Ivan as it passed us, we got about 20 foot waves in Bonaire. They lasted for several days after the storm passed. To be caught out in the ocean in one of these things is something I never want to experience. We got caught in 20 foot seas in our passage from Guadalupe to Antigua the first year on Tydewi, and that was not fun..

WE WERE VERY LUCKY................................!!!!!!!!!!