We had a productive month-long stay in Vero Beach with doctor appointments, stocking up & prepping for our crossing to the Bahamas. Of course, cleaning our boat’s bottom is one of our hundred of get-ready chores!
The weather was perfect for the entire month – almost too perfect – hoping it wouldn’t all be used up! As it turned out, there was an absolutely perfect crossing weather forecast right as our month’s stay came to an end, however we had made other plans …
We were conflicted with our Bahamas plans this year after Hurricane Dorian. While most of the Bahamas weren’t even touched, Abaco, which we visit every year was completely devastated. In particular, Hopetown was ground zero with winds of over 200 MPH. The eye came directly over the harbour & just sat there for over 1/2 hour before moving slightly, then stalling again for many hours. For the first week afterwards, they were strictly in survival mode. The only outside help at first were U. S. Coast Guard helicopters. Then came private boats & yachts from Florida bringing food, water & fuel for generators. The tiny local volunteer fire department of only a dozen members, no firehouse, no fire truck & no fire/rescue boat became relief coordinators working 18 hour days to secure the few remaining houses for all to live in & set up a temporary kitchen. Since then, volunteer organizations from around the world have descended with help of all kinds, but there is endless work towards recovery.
Having cruisers arrive by boat is a good/bad situation. If you’re on the younger side with construction experience who want to volunteer repairing roofs & are completely self-supporting – great! If you’re the average cruiser who wants to hang out, eat food meant for the volunteers & needing to buy short-in-supply diesel – not so much. Benj had already bought airplane tickets to Georgetown, Exuma for early January, so we decided to stick to our plan, bypassing Abaco for now.
There is no FEMA, no insurance & limited governmental help. If not laborers, they mostly need $$$$, for construction materials & the ships to bring them. A grassroots effort began for the Hope for Abaco Benefit Concert in Florida, appropriately featuring the Barefoot Man, who appeared for many years at Nippers Bar & Grill on nearby Guana Cay (now also mostly destroyed). Our donation provided us with a great time, but more importantly much needed $$$$ with 100% going to the relief effort.
The perfect weather has turned into a weather nightmare. Weeks of windy, stormy weather is now forecast putting our crossing plans in doubt.
We have less than 3 weeks to get down to George Town, Exumasfor Benj’s arrival. Plenty of time … unless we can’t even begin to cross for weeks. Plan C is now in effect, which involves getting further south to Miami,
so we have a shorter & better angle to cross. Many cruisers cross to Bimini, but that is still only 1/8 of the way to the Exumas, so we’ll have to go further – possibly an overnight – our favorite – NOT!