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Prior to Insurance – Hurricane Preparedness

Peter Bailey shares his memories with AAS writer, Nancy Terrell

In 1956, Barbara and I sailed our 18′ Searbird, Moonraker, from Trinidad to Grenada. Bill (a BVI marine surveyor who has been in Grenada since Ivan) was about two. On the 27th of September, 1955, Hurricane Janet, battered Grenada. I think Janet is excluded from the names for hurricanes now, because of its effects.

I recall that the Mighty Sparrow made up a calypso about it;

Janet hiding in the mountains,
Janet licked down a million buildings,
Janet sister was Katie,
Janet licked down the whole of Miami

There were no pleasure craft in Grenada at the time, just fishing boats and Trading Schooners, most of which were built and manned from Bequia and Carriacou. The charter yachts did sail down there from Antigua, so Grenadians knew that some people were wealthy enough to “Sail for Pleasure”.

Boats were built of wood. The first GRP Yacht I saw was a Bounty Class 40 footer off Guadeloupe, when we cruised up there in 58/59 on our Brittany Class 40 footer designed by Laurent Giles.

At the time it was quite normal to sink any boat (which didn’t have an engine) when storms threatened, if there wasn’t time to haul ashore – provided you chose a soft muddy bottom to lie on in a place where there wasn’t much chance of a ground sea. The feeling was that boats were much safer under the water than afloat. Commercial craft were filled with stones and taken out to deep water for
sinking. This was considered good for the boats because salt water stops rot and kills all insects aboard. This was an excellent fumigator as vessels carried perishables as well as chickens, goats and other livestock. The people in Grenada lived off of the land, much as they are being forced to do now.

The HMS Ulster came in and restored the electricity in the city but there was no electricity on other parts of the island. It’s strange how history repeats itself.

 

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