Captain Matt looks back 1 year after the worst hurricane on record to hit the British Virgin Islands.......
“Hurricane Irma was an extremely powerful and catastrophic Cape Verde hurricane, the strongest observed in the Atlantic in terms of maximum sustained winds since Wilma, and the strongest storm on record to exist in the open Atlantic region. Irma was the first Category 5 hurricane to strike the Leeward Islands on record, followed by Hurricane Maria two weeks later, and is the second costliest Caribbean hurricane on record, after Maria.” Source Wikipedia Aug 2018 The hurricane of September 6th 2017 will go down in my living memory as the single most terrifying experience I have ever witnessed and I hope it never gets any worse than that!
Learning more with dad.
The week previous to Irma turning our beautiful British Virgin Islands upside down, my son was visiting from the UK on his summer vacation. Along with my buddy, we were lucky enough to be able to take one of the school’s sailing boats out for a week, great family time while teaching him everything I know.
Half way through our sailing trip I had to step off the boat for the day to teach local hero Gumption, (he works Richard Branson’s Necker Island animal sanctuary giving guided tours to guests), and a few other staff members from Necker Island, a VHF radio course. I arrived at the dock and had to wait for a while, the Necker team were running late. Finally the students arrived and apologised for being late, they had just been in an emergency planning meeting about the forecast of a direct hit by Hurricane Irma. We all started taking the forecasts very seriously, as the hurricane was not dying down or changing course like others before her had.
The following days were a strange emotional mix, some islanders were in denial while others were fearful, it's fair to say all of us just found it difficult to belief. Boat owners were preparing their boats, making sure everything was lashed down, removing sails, safety equipment and fighting for space on the dock in the so called hurricane safe zones! As we all now know it was futile, Irma found everything and didn’t care for all the hard work everyone did trying to prepare and save their boats!
Luckily my son left island the before the storm hit and was safely back in the UK, as we raced against time to prepare for Irma’s arrival.
Back at our house, my partner Abi and I frantically cleared everything from outside bringing all that we could inside, making space for all our animals and making sure our house was secured.
Whilst Abi had been through hurricanes before this was my first and I just followed her lead taking orders on how best to do things, including what emergency supplies we needed to buy from the store.
The morning of Wednesday 6th September finally arrived and we frantically went online to NOAA’s national hurricane centres website to confirm the worse, Irma was going to be a category 5 a direct hit and was imminent. We did our final checks around our property, closed all of the hurricane shutters and spoke briefly to our families back in the UK and then sat there waiting…..”how bad can it be” I wondered?........