The Hurricane Season Approaches

Migration is a natural occurrence. The animal kingdom has been at it for a considerable time. The swallows of Argentina may be the most famous. From their cliff side home in Goya, to the Mission in Capistrano, they are celebrated in song and folklore. Oddly enough, when the Mission renovated their building a few years ago the swallows failed to return. The good people of Capistrano feared their loss and notoriety. After some research and experiments to lure them back they successfully restored their nests in the renovated Mission with a replication of what was there before. I suppose they should have thought of that before they tore down the old nest. But we humans love new digs don’t we?

The Swallow of Capistrano

Other birds migrate. Butterflies migrate. Turtles migrate, Leatherbacks over 1200 miles. Whales, fish, and yes, even fresh water fish migrate. Land animals also migrate. Not as far as the mobile air and sea creatures but many travel many hundreds of miles during the changing seasons.

It not surprising then, that humans also have a migration urge. Of course, it has been considerably repressed ever since we discovered fire. Or more properly, used fire for more than having our wildebeest cooked medium rare. By the way, wildebeest travel nearly 1500 miles a year on the Serengeti. Partly to escape being cooked medium rare?

Which brings me to the migration of humans in our neck of the woods, or sea. The famous Snow Birds that migrate south to Florida from the North East has made the Sun Shine State famous for years. Attracted to the warmth of the southern sun, Snow Birds will never be found in snow. In fact, if it weren’t for those early Snow Birds, Florida would still be a place best fit for reptiles, mosquitos, and pink flamingoes. By the way, none of those migrate. In any case, Snow Birds have the ability to fly, usually in an Airbus 300; move at speeds approaching 80 MPH in everything from Altimas to Winnebagos and in general arrive in their winter nesting grounds in the northern hemisphere winter, returning in the spring.

We belong to a different migratory schema. It is also connected to the seasons but inversely related to the attractive properties of the migratory destination. The islands we sail among during most of the year have marginal temperature variations. It is one of the reasons we are here. Call it perpetual summer or “another boring day in paradise” but the fact is, the change of seasons is generally unremarkable. The additional fact that the actual time of sunrise and sunset doesn’t vary more than hour year-round makes time seem to stand still. Sunset is always around dinner time. (Clarification for Snow Birds: dinnertime is considerably later than any Early Bird Special). At our age, that is not a bad thing.

But there is a migration for those who are mobile. As mentioned above, it is not a move to a more attractive location but one where a thing doesn’t occur. That “thing” of course is the dreaded Hurricane. Known world-wide as Hurricanes, Typhoons, Tropical Storms or any number of other names, they do rather upset the local population when their houses and land blow away. Understandably so, the best way to be prepared for a hurricane is to be where there’re not. The islanders have a distinct disadvantage in that regard as no islands have the capability to move, even only a few tens of miles, to be “where there not”. The destructive force of these things can be such, that moving an island should be considered. Given the advance of technology, I’m sure it may be possible. Remember the TV show Lost? Something the geeks need to work on.

Until such time, we, living on a sailboat, have the capability to move our homestead out of harms way. Hurricanes and boats are not a good combination, much worse than to those ashore. We, along with many other cruisers and visitors on boats here, start planning to head to “where there’re not” about this time of year. For us, that is Trinidad. Since 1850 only 6 hurricanes affected Trinidad and Tobago. North of Trinidad, all the way to the U.S. Coast, hurricanes are not that unusual. Granted, the chance of a particular location getting hit is very small. But it is enough of a concern that many boat insurance companies ban coverage from north of Trinidad to Florida during the hurricane season. That same logic propels people to buy Lotto tickets.

The time to be south of here (St. Lucia) is in the next months. Normally this is not a problem, but of course, these are not normal times. Migratory travel is restricted and so we may be in the same dilemma as those sparrows heading to Capistrano. We know that Trinidad is inclined to find a solution as those in the Mission did. Otherwise, we need to go “where there’re not”.    

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