What to do if you’re sailing during hurricane season

You’re going on your dream vacation, sailing in the BVI, and now you hear there’s a hurricane coming. What should you do?

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Hurricane season in the BVI spans from June to November, with most rain and bad storms happening in September. In general, the BVI does not get hit as hard as other places such as the coast of Florida. However in 1999 there was a hurricane in November, so averages are just averages. And just a few years ago we had one of the rainiest trips we’ve been on in November.

  1. Consider travel insurance. If you are booking a trip during hurricane season and the hurricane forecast for the year is high, consider travel insurance just for piece of mind. If you do buy travel insurance, be sure to read the fine print carefully and make sure you understand when and what it will cover. If a hurricane is expected and winds are 40mph and you decide not to go, will your insurance cover that? Or do you actually have to have a cancelled flight and trip by the airline and charter company for your insurance to cover you?
  2. Watch the forecast. There’s no need to worry too far in advance but a week or two before your trip, start watching the weather. Make sure you have a plan for checking the weather regularly in the BVI and getting any emergency updates. There are several good sailing weather apps like Marine App. If you are relying on the radio for your weather, be sure to turn it on first thing when you wake up.
  3. Checkin with your charter company. Ask them at what point they will recall the boats to their base and if you will be allowed to stay on the boat or not during a bad storm. Your charter company will want you to have an enjoyable trip and to be safe, so they will likely give you the most practical advice for your situation.
  4. Research alternatives. If there is a hurricane, and your boat is recalled back to base and you are not allowed to stay on it, where will you go? Most likely you will be expected to book a hotel at your expense. Likely there will be a lot of availability and your charter company will help you find one. However, it would be best to pick one ahead of time with good reviews and on a protected side of the island.
  5. Plan for rain. If you are going in hurricane season, even if the BVI isn’t directly affected by a hurricane, there’s a good chance you’ll see a lot of rain and wind. While you may be disappointed not to have lots of sunny beach time, there is still a lot to do in the BVI in the rain. One of our most fun trips included lots of beach bars, new friends and bag pipes!

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