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The great Caribbean shut down

by Chris Doyle 20 Apr 14:14 UTC
The South Coast of Grenada © Chris Doyle

Like most of you I am sitting on my boat, not where I thought I would be at this time, somewhat in limbo, with no idea if anything is going to change in the coming weeks, or where we might be welcome. There are many of us in the same situation, we had plans, we had haul-out dates, and right now we have no idea what is going to happen, and even if we met those dates, we have no idea if we could get to where we planned to be.

Coronavirus has proved to be a world-changing event, and while disruptive, it could be a lot worse. Boats are probably as good a refuge from the virus as you could wish for. Self-contained, surrounded by sea and in generally beautiful surroundings. In the meantime, the world-wide shut down has got to be beneficial for the environment.

I think the Caribbean governments have reacted well to protect their populations, limiting the movement of people in and out, and trying to get everyone to stop interacting so they can find out where they are. But they, like us, are winging it, reacting to events on the ground, so they have no more idea of where we are going than we do.

Insurance Concerns

As the hurricane season approaches, many must be wondering whether their insurance company will cover them, if they cannot get to wherever the insurance company is dictating.

For practical purposes many of the big insurance companies have forsaken the Caribbean, making storm coverage overly expensive and putting strictly limiting areas on hurricane season coverage. They started years ago trying to limit their risk by driving everyone to Grenada or further south, with the result that, when Grenada did get a major hit, they sustained large losses and became even more restrictive.

Luckily the Caribbean insurance market has rapidly expanded to help fill the void, and being Caribbean, they understand that spreading the risk is better than concentrating it. So, if you are stuck and insurance is a worry, this may be a good time to get local insurance that will cover you wherever you are. I insure through Anjo insurance in Antigua which uses Massey Insurance and have so far been happy. But that is one of several. If you are in another island you can often talk to the main marina office who will have insurance contacts.

Options for Hurricane Season

The good thing is that, even if you cannot move, most countries have harbors or haul-out facilities where you have an excellent chance of surviving a hurricane. Given that you may be stuck, it makes sense to at least consider where you are now and the kind of facilities and hurricane protection it offers, just in case it is where you may be end up.

If movement does free up, then the old adage that the further south you are, the safer you are, does have some validity. I normally leave my boat in Trinidad, that being pretty far south. That may well not be possible this year.

Grenada is a very popular place for people to spend the hurricane season. It has three good haul-out yards and Grenada’s convoluted south coast offers several very protected anchorages.

St. Vincent really does not have any real hurricane holes, Blue Lagoon is the closest to it, but it is usually chock full of charter yachts.

St. Lucia has over the years probably had a few more tropical storms and close hurricanes than Grenada, but happily none to date have been as severe as Grenada’s Ivan. They have one haul-out yard and two very protected anchorages, Rodney Bay Lagoon and Marigot Bay.

Many are stuck now in Martinique, and Martinique at least has some very protected anchorages, including Trou Cyclone, which will be open in the case of a pending storm. However, the anchorage in St. Anne is full, so a lot of yachts will be seeking shelter. Luckily the whole of Cul-de-Sac Marin is huge and well protected, and probably good enough for anything except a direct hit.

If you are thinking of sailing home, the season is approaching, and Salty Dawg has some US bound informal flotillas till early May.

This article has been provided by the courtesy of

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