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Hurricane Odile Disaster Overview

Current Overview of the Hurricane Odile Disaster:

1. The body of Guenter Trebbow was found Wednesday by Mexican navy divers aboard his sunken Fisher 30 ketch Princess in La Paz Bay. The last anyone had heard from him was via VHF during the storm. He reported that water was up to his knees in his anchored-out boat, and he and his dog were going to have to abandon her. In deteriorating health, Gunther was a much-loved, longtime member of the La Paz boating community. He will be missed.

Gunther was a popular member of the La Paz cruising community. This photo was taken about seven years ago.

© Jill & Greg Delezynski / Guinevere
The ketch Princess at anchor. 

© Jill & Greg Delezynski / Guinevere

2. Paul Whitehouse and Simone Wood of the ketch Tabasco II (type of boat and hailing port unknown) are still missing, and hope is fading. The tops of the masts of their ketch, in La Paz Bay, are all that are visible. A search revealed no bodies inside the boat. If anybody has more information on the couple, we would appreciate hearing it.

Tabasco II sits on the bottom of La Paz Bay, with her mast tops visible above the surface. 

© 2014 Dennis & Susan Ross

3. Boats in La Paz marinas survived the storm in very, very good shape. As we understand it, this may have been due in part to the fact that the winds were out of the south instead of from the north.

4. It was the anchored-out boats and those on the hard that suffered the most. More than 20 in the anchorage were damaged or destroyed. We published that list and the conditions of the boats yesterday. In the same post, we also published a list of those on the hard that had been damaged or destroyed, and their general condition.

5. La Paz seems to be coming back to life fairly quickly, with none of the mass looting that has been reported in Cabo. Several of the bigger stores are open, electrical and Internet service is up and returning, more Pemex stations are opening, and ferry service is operating between La Paz and Topolobampo and La Paz and Mazatlan. Commercial airlines have been taking passengers out, but none are being allowed in.

Odile did considerable damage in La Paz, but we’re told more stores are re-opening every day.

BCS Noticias
©Latitude 38 Media, LLC

6. Baja Insider, usually a fine source of news and information, reports that the road is open between La Paz and Cabo, which if true, is great news. The Insider also reports that the road from La Paz as far north as Loreto is open. North of that there are some problems.

7. Baja Insider reported that as of Wednesday night, there were widespread gangs, some armed with bats, roaming and looting areas of Cabo San Lucas — including, inexplicably, the barrios. The Mexican government reportedly wanted all foreigners out of the Cape area. Some 500 military and police had arrived from the mainland yesterday to restore order and maintain the evening curfew. We’re not sure how that worked out last night.

Most boats in Cabo faired well, but there was tremendous damage to buildings and infrastructure. Metal signage and facades were mangled as if they were made of cardboard.
©Latitude 38 Media, LLC

8. Based on photos, the Cape, and particularly many of the luxury hotels, seem to have been hit much harder than La Paz, although both really took it on the chin. However, the Cabo San Lucas Marina, and the area right around it, seems to have come through in remarkably good condition. While many small boats at both ends of the marina were damaged or destroyed, we’re told that the larger boats all did fine. However, we haven’t been able to get direct contact with anyone at the marina or in Cabo.

There is a whole lot of work to be done in the Cabo area, particularly to many of the grand resorts.

9. The multimillion-dollar Bisbee Black & Blue Fishing Tournament, which is slated to start just a month from now, has not been called off. In fact, Bisbee has started a Cabo Relief Fund that has attracted several hundred thousand dollars of donations already.

10. A Mexican relief ship brought 25,000 meals and water to Cabo, with more shipments expected to arrive soon. There is a large population on the Cape, and, of course, the weather is hot. Above all, they need water, followed by food and shelter. Some 28 planes flew tourists out of Cabo yesterday, so the airport is at least partially functional, and apparently the road to La Paz is passable. With any organizational skill, the basics of life should be reaching the population soon if not already. They have a hard road ahead of them, however, and no one knows what can be salvaged of the tourist season that is slated to begin in just weeks. Our hearts are with them.

11. A list of boats damaged or lost at Puerto Escondido was published Wednesday. We received photos of some of the boats from Jake Howard of the Hunter 45 Howard. More than a few were very nice boats. The owner of the catamaran Rapscallion had reservations on a flight to nearby Loreto from Canada yesterday, but it was cancelled, possibly rescheduled for Sunday. Certainty is a rare commodity in Baja these days. As for the weather, when the photos were taken, it was beautiful. Even the water was clear.

A Puerto Escondido casualty. 

© 2014 Jake Howard
This beached tri looks repairable.

© Jake Howard
Boat carnage at Puerto Escondido. 

© Jake Howard

12. Wednesday we published a list of boats that were damaged or lost at Santa Rosalia. The new marina and boats in it did fine. The old marina was destroyed.

13. At San Carlos on the mainland side of the Sea, Tere Grossman, president of the Mexican Marina Owners Association, and owner of Marina Seca Dry Storage, reports that just a couple of anchored-out boats were damaged or destroyed and there was only minor damage to docks at the marinas. Boats in the marinas did fine.

At San Carlos, far to the north of Cabo, most boats survived. 

Tere Grossman
©Latitude 38 Media, LLC

 14. Several individuals have asked us to start a relief fund, or asked what Latitude 38 is doing for relief efforts. We know nothing about running a relief organization, other than it takes a lot of time, money, skills and manpower to set up, of which we have very little to devote to something we know nothing about. And why try to get an unknown new one off the ground when so many others already exist? If you want to help Cabo specifically, we recommend the Bisbee Cabo Relief Fund. If you want to help Baja in general, we recommend the Baja Bush Pilots. If there are funds set up specially for Guenter’s estate or to help Paul and Simone (or their estate) of Tabasco II in some way, we’ll let you know.

15. A big fear in the last day or two has been hurricane Polo, which is now headed in the general direction of Cabo. There is good news on two fronts. Polo has weakened to a tropical storm, and the National Hurricane Center is forecasting that it will veer to the west of Cabo. Since late-season hurricanes often have a habit of veering back to the right, Polo still bears monitoring.

With any luck, Polo will pass well to the west of Cabo. 

©Latitude 38 Media, LLC

16. What’s the context? If Odile wasn’t the strongest hurricane to hit Baja — it might be second to Carla in 1967 — it certainly was the most destructive, at least in part because the area has been so dramatically built up over the decades. It’s also our belief that it’s caused the most destruction to private yachts in the Sea of Cortez ever. Off the top of our heads, we can’t recall any cruisers being killed in the Sea by hurricanes before.

Right now is the very height of hurricane season. But the middle of October the shorter days and cooler temps normally bring the season to a rapid end, particularly as far north as Cabo. In addition, the sea temperature north of Puerto Vallarta, and 230 miles south of Cabo, seems to have dropped several degrees in the last few days. That would be good news.

Latest General Update from Gringo Gazette:

Storm Update,September 18, 2014

  • Three people dead; two were high executives from El Boleo mine who tried to cross a road flooded by a river, another one died of a heart attack.
  • Nearly 50,000 people moved from Los Cabos to La Paz.
  • One thousand people waiting at the La Paz airport to leave. There are no commercial flights available but Volarís and Interjet are sending planes free of charge.
  • Electricity is restored at 70% north of La Paz and 40% in La Paz. It will take around 2 to 3 weeks to restore power in Los Cabos. Almost 3,000 high-tension poles are down or damaged. Airport, hospitals and shelters have electricity with power plants.
  • Cabo airport is fully working. 300 vehicles and around 1,000 electricity company (CFE) workers were brought here in addition to the 1,000 we already have.
  • The heads of tourism, civil protection and Fonatur are here and they all say they will stay until everything is sorted out.
  • Over 3,000 soldiers, sailors and federal gendarmerie are here since yesterday.
  • Neighbors have built barricades in every street for protection while convoys of armed cops and soldiers patrol at night.
  • Seven people were jailed last night for looting.
  • Cabo Mil radio station is reporting to the army.

1 Comment

  1. James Maxwell 3 years ago

    Gunther was a cool cat… He is missed.

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