Planning for Hurricane Season During a Pandemic

Brian and I keep telling each other we are glad the pandemic didn’t happen in our first season living on the boat. This is because we are more comfortable and knowledgeable, Sava is in better shape, and we are used to the fluidity of cruiser life. Especially the last because this season it is very interesting planning for hurricane season in a pandemic.

Planning for Hurricane Season from Antigua

As you know, we waited out the worst of the lockdown in Antigua and it worked well. We had a solid group in isolation and were sheltered in a beautiful bay. All of the necessities were available or sourced easily by someone in our group.

Planning for Hurricane Season during a pandemic
Sava and some of her buddy boats at Great Bird Island, Antigua

But we can’t stay here forever, and as hurricane season approaches, borders are slowly opening, with restrictions.

Grenada Tops Most Hurricane Season Lists

For most Caribbean cruisers, Grenada became the ultimate goal this year. A very persistent and organized lobby from that country’s marine and yachting group, MAYAG achieved a win: opening Grenada for all boats that paid the $25 registry fee, agreed to 14 day quarantine and to pay for a Covid-19 test upon arrival.

We have a reservation to quarantine in Grenada
Grenada quarantine reservation

Many cruisers from as far as Bahamas all the way down the Caribbean chain signed up for this privilege. Us too. We opted to not be among the first to enter, thinking any issues would get resolved early and we wouldn’t have to be guinea pigs. However, about 700 boats are in the middle of or preparing to make the non-stop (another rule) sail to Grenada.

A Long Slog to Grenada

From Antigua the trip is about 300 nautical miles (nm), which is the longest we’ve done by almost double. Last season we stopped many times between Antigua and Grenada. This year, at this moment, that is not possible: first, because borders aren’t open due to the virus, and second, because Grenada has dictated we can’t, presumably to keep us and their people safe from Covid-19.

Antigua to Grenada

We are fortunate to be only 300 miles and a mostly downwind (with mixes of degree) run. I know cruisers in the Bahamas, Luperon, and the Virgin Islands who are heading to Grenada. To do the thorny path and keep going for days with no rest all the way to Grenada and 2 weeks quarantine at the end will be a long rough ride for them so we know we are lucky.

We loved Grenada, but to return there this season feels like we are going in circles. This is our best option at the moment and we’ll have lots of friends in the same place.

Hoping More Borders Open

Things are changing quickly in the western Caribbean, which explains why planning for hurricane season is so challenging now. Some of this is good news and we are hoping for more.

Saint Lucia and Antigua are opening to air traffic from the United States in early June. We are hoping this means further relaxing for cruiser entries, in these islands and maybe others down the chain, but then again, maybe not.

If we can get entrance into Saint Lucia, take a break and stock up there, we would happily do that. From here to Rodney Bay, Saint Lucia is less than 200 nm. It’s more than halfway to Grenada but still preferable. Plus we like it there and the provisioning is excellent. Then we would simply sign up again with Grenada Lima for a later arrival and quarantine date from a new port of departure. We don’t expect the French islands to open to us: they have been much stricter throughout the pandemic.

We don’t know what will happen or when. On the one hand, these islands rely on tourism, and if they are opening to air travel, why not to cruisers? On the other hand, they are trying to keep their citizens safe, and we are not citizens of the Caribbean, so we wait and make plans and change them.

Ideal Scenario for Hurricane Season

There is no ideal scenario for us anymore, just as there probably isn’t for you or anyone you know. Covid-19 wrecked 2020 so now we are just trying to salvage the season and stay safe. We will not complain about going direct to Grenada and spending hurricane season 2 there. However, we can’t help weighing the options. So we sit on Sava planning for hurricane season.

Bonaire and Beyond

We still want to go to Bonaire, but Bonaire is mostly closed and the mooring balls are full. The moorings will likely remain full until the region’s borders open again.

Puerto Rico is closed with no expected reopening date. A lot of sailors leave Bonaire and go to Puerto Rico, but can’t do that now.

Colombia recently announced the borders are staying closed until August 31. A lot of cruisers head to Colombia and then Panama from Bonaire, which was our intention. Now we’ll have to wait until September.

Bonaire is supposed to be lovely with excellent diving, but it’s also hot. The thought of staying at a dock waiting for a mooring ball all summer and paying for the privilege is not appealing! Maybe we will go to Grenada and then Bonaire. Maybe we will go to Saint Lucia (if it opens soon) and then to Bonaire. See what I mean? Plans are fluid on a boat on a good day but before hurricane season in a pandemic!

We Can’t Stay in Antigua

One thing we do know is we can’t stay in Antigua. Hurricanes are coming and we are in the zone. I don’t want to be here for one. Great Bird Island was our sanctuary during the pandemic but it is not a hurricane hole.

The Most Likely Plan

We signed up to arrive in St. George’s, Grenada between June 17-19, which means leaving here by June 15th. Many of our buddy boats are on the same schedule. Some are on their way and will fill us in on what it’s like when they arrive.

So we have a few more weeks to finish boat projects, reprovision, and make even more plans.

Provisioning is part of planning for hurricane season during a pandemic
Mayag’s tips for provisioning for the trip to and quarantine in Grenada

Today’s most likely scenario is that we will go to Grenada. After everything else, we figure a two week quarantine is going to be easy! After all the planning for hurricane season during a pandemic, we’ll need some rest.

Author: Mel

Living aboard a sailboat, blogging about the places we visit and the adventures we have. Love hiking, cycling, scuba, animals and adventure.

13 thoughts on “Planning for Hurricane Season During a Pandemic”

    1. Yes indeed! We will probably do a haulout this summer but only for a few days to get some bottom maintenance.

  1. So interesting to see how you deal with this situation from a boat! I am cycling (and dreaming about getting on a boat at some point in my journey!) and having the same kind of doubt and fuzzy ideas of what could I do where could I go “if”
    I will keep following your adventure !

  2. This is the first blog I am reading on this subject. Very thoughtful and helpful for those expecting a hurricane. My family back home had to face a tornado back home. Thank you for sharing..

  3. Eep! Facing a hurricane during a pandemic sounds really scary! I really hope you manage to find somewhere with open borders and safety!

    Sending you piles of hope and virtual hugs.

  4. Wow! What an incredible adventure! While you are facing some unforeseen challenges and frustrations now, I trust you will look back on this time fondly with some wild stories to tell. Be safe out there!

  5. This is so useful! I am thinking about visiting the Caribbean this year (hopefully) and do not have a lot of experience preparing for hurricanes. I will be sure to keep your post in mind!

  6. Waoow – it sounds challenging to plan such an adventure. I imagine the key to a succesful journey is the preparation. Facing hurricane sounds really scary !

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