Posted by: rosyroadsadventures | August 22, 2011



N 18° 29.5′ W 64° 21.3′

Biras Creek, North Sound, British Virgin Islands

Irene passed about 60 miles southwest of our position in the BVI, and just 7 miles to the north of our marina slip at Palmas del Mar. We aren’t sure whether we would have had worse conditions in the marina or not, since the heaviest weather is usually on the northeast quadrant of the storm.

I just got a report from my slip neighbor. His boat had some very minor damage to an antenna and his canvas, and there are power outages in the area.  I am reading that the beautiful El Yunque rain forest peaks to the north of Palmas experienced Cat 2 winds, and hope that the destruction there was not too great. We visited the rain forest briefly on a past cruise ship tour, and I would love to find a sunny day to return.

We had no damage here, just a restless night keeping watch until the worst winds passed.

We set an alarm to alert us if we moved beyond a certain radius of our GPS position.


The alarm would tell us that we had broken free of the mooring and needed to quickly start the engines. There were several false alarms throughout the night.


The ship's radar, showing approaching storms, supplemented by satellite data on a Kindle -- and a glass of wine-- rounded out the necessities for my watch


This orange kayak, tied to a neighboring mooring ball, gave us a visual point of reference. We think it was put there to be a place holder for a big boat that never arrived. It came loose during the night and disappeared.


The winds were strong, but not as bad as I thought they might be. The motion on the boat was not uncomfortable.

A couple of private mega-yachts came in to the Sound during the storm to take shelter. According to the captains — we overheard their chatter on the VHF radio — they were clocking winds in the 42 – 51 mph range in the harbor, with gusts of 60+ in the open seas.  We wondered why they were out at sea in this weather . . .


Our company in the Sound included the Necker Belle, a huge and luxurious catamaran affiliated with Sir Richard Branson's resort on nearby Necker Island


For only $100,000/week plus provisions & expenses, one can charter this magnificent boat with crew of 7. If anyone is seriously thinking about this, please let us know. For half of Sir Richard’s price we can arrange for a fun-filled & memorable cruise with slightly more modest accommodations on the Mar Azul 🙂 

Lessons learned during this adventure:

  1. A moderate tropical storm can be easily weathered at sea in a carefully chosen harbor. I’m sure bad things can happen too. We were fortunate.

  2. Weigh your own weather research with the official forecasts to reach your own conclusions. The official forecast isn’t always accurate, and tropical weather is hard to predict. Much of the available information here seems focused on a storm’s future impact on the big US, not what will happen in a teeny island country.

  3. Don’t believe everything you read in a Cruising Guide. The one for this region boldly states we will be given at least 48 hours official notice of an approaching tropical storm or hurricane! We had about 16 hours official notice for Irene.

  4. Good internet connections are invaluable in these situations. Ours shut down shortly after my last post and we relied on the limited capability of our Kindle experimental browsers to pull up weather reports for the duration of the storm. The best solution for international nautical travelers visiting multiple countries seems to be satellite internet. Very expensive and not in our current budget.

  5. Don’t let Bob go out to bail the dinghy in a storm without first letting Lady out to do her business on deck or we will have a doggie accident to clean up below with all the excitement.


Lady: “I'm TRYING to be a good boat dog”


According to the weather satellite photo, blue skies are just ahead for us. We are keeping our fingers crossed that Irene turns well east and does not visit our friends in the US.




  1. Thanks for the update. Glad you made it through safely!

  2. Well, that was no false alarm! I saw pictures taken from St. Maarten yesterday, plenty of rain to go with those 50 mph sustained winds!
    But, it sounds like you were in a much safer spot for you and the Mar Azul,
    as compared to Palmas del Mar. ENJOY those blue skies!

    • Yes – there was LOTS of rain, and sounds like it was widespread since Irene has a huge radius. The dinghy totally filled with water and the gas tank was floating. Such fun to bail it out. We took the dogs for a walk ashore just before sunset and saw small mudslides and damage to the roads in the resort. Water was still streaming down the hills, taking chunks of pavement with it. We didn’t see any significant wind damage here, though.

      Elaine Ebaugh

  3. Glad you are both ok…….have been thinking of you for sure the last few days

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