Jimmy Cornell answers sailors' Caribbean hurricane concerns

We have been contacted by several sailors expressing their safety concerns following the recent hurricanes that have affected some of the Caribbean islands.

• Is damage to yachting facilities so bad that you shouldn’t visit some islands?

The news from some of the islands that have suffered extensive damage, such as Saint Martin, and also the Virgin Islands and Guadeloupe, is that everything possible will be done to be ready for the 2017-2018 winter season.

In the case of Barbados, which is the destination for all our transatlantic rallies, the island has suffered no significant damage and is ready to receive yachts at the end of their Atlantic crossing.

• Should we go ahead with our cruising plans and visit some of those islands to support local economies? Should sailors get involved in local relief efforts?

As always, the people who have suffered most from these natural disasters are on some of the least developed islands, such as Dominica, Barbuda and Anguilla. We are pleased to point out that the international sailing community is making a great effort to help the people of those islands, and there is currently a relief program run by the Seven Seas Cruising Association aimed primarily at Dominica.

It will be very good if once the season starts, cruising sailors should visit those islands but only if they are prepared to help the people of the islands, and not put an additional burden on local services.

• Is it still safe to cross in November?

We have always discouraged anyone to arrive in the Caribbean too early in the season, and that means not before late November or preferably early December. For this reason, all our rallies are timed to arrive in Barbados by early December.

• What about leaving your boat in the Caribbean during the hurricane season?

This is the most important and difficult decision for anyone who plans to leave the boat in the tropics during the hurricane season.

Those who have no other alternative should first contact their insurance company because there are now more stringent limitations imposed on boats that are being left in areas that may be affected by hurricanes, even those that are borderline cases.

My personal advice is not to plan to leave your boat anywhere in the tropics if it can be avoided by sailing to a safer area that is not going to be affected by tropical storms during the summer.


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