The accompanying photos show what looks like an attempt at the world’s largest raft-up. And who knows, it might have been.
But the primary reason they are assembled this way at Paraquita Lagoon on the south side of Tortola in the British Virgins is to protect them from the ravages of hurricanes, such as Earl, which passed through the other day. It’s our understanding that these boats are from The Moorings and several other charter companies, including BVI Yacht Charters, which is why our Leopard 45 cat ‘ti Profligate rode out Earl in that location.
What makes Paraquita Lagoon such a good hurricane hole is that it’s protected extremely well from the north, and pretty darn well from the west, south and east, and it also features mangroves as bumpers. The only opening into the lagoon is from the south, and that opening is just 30 feet wide, which makes it a very tight squeeze for the biggest cats.
Our understanding is that the hundreds of charter yachts in Paraquita rode out Earl‘s three hours of 80-knot winds from the south without any significant issues. The further good news is that Tropical Storm Fiona passed to the south without any problem 48 hours later, and what looked to be Hurricane Gaston marching in from the east has lost strength and barely rates tropical storm status as he heads toward the Antigua-Guadeloupe area. Gaston, however, is still far enough out for his strength and course to change.
Glenn Kotara reports there is also good news from Anegada in the British Virgins, a low island — maximum elevation 28 feet — that was probably closest to the eye of Earl — now off the East Coast of the U.S. — at his strongest:
"I have finally made contact with Wendell Creque, my long time friend and owner of Cow Wreck Beach Bar. Wendell assures me that they took a minor hit. In fact, he said to hell with Earl and sat in the back of the bar drinking beer. Tough people, those native Anegadans."
While the Cow Wreck Beach Bar may not have suffered much, there have been reports of extensive damage elsewhere on the island and to private docks.
If past years are any barometer of the future, the first Pacific Puddle Jump boats of the 2011 fleet will set sail from the West Coast of the Americas, bound for French Polynesia, in late February or early March. That’s still six months away, but for cruisers who are now making preparations, the time will undoubtedly fly by.
If they want firsthand input on what to expect during that 3,000-mile crossing, they should check out our PPJ Recap article in the September edition of Latitude 38. There, along with loads of insightful quotes from 2010 passage-makers, they’ll find our annual Passage Data table, which gives all sorts of specifics such as the number of days it took each boat to cross, at what longitude they transited the ITCZ, what broke, how many fish they caught and more. Below is a capsule version of the info, but you can download the entire table in PDF format from the Puddle Jump website.
Most sailors look at Labor Day with mixed feelings — hey, it’s three days of sailing, yet it’s also the official end of summer. But we’re guessing most Bay sailors are saying ‘Good riddance’ to this summer, considering we were socked in under a marine layer for most of it. If this weekend’s forecast of sunny skies and temps near 80 are signs of things to come, maybe this fall will make up for our summer woes.
As a reminder, ‘Lectronic Latitude will be taking Monday off but will back full force on Wednesday, September 8 — which is also the day of our annual Mexico-Only Crew List Party at Encinal YC in Alameda (6-9 p.m. — no early birds, please). The party is a great way to meet prospective crew (or skippers) for the ride south. Registered 2010 Baja Ha-Ha skippers and first mates get in for free, everyone else pays just $7. Apertivos, no-host bebidos, and lots of opportunities to mingle with southbound folks — what a deal!