Re: [Amel Yacht Owners] Alex aboard Nikimat

Alexandre Uster von Baar

Thanks Bill for posting my Facebook post on the Forum.

The Hotel generator is only working a few hours a day - they are running out of diesel…
Plus their internet is no longer working, so I was lucky to get the internet from a near by hotel with my booster.
I don’t know how much longer I will have access so I have to prioritize replies.

here is what I previously posted on FB.

Dear Friends,

Last Thursday, looking at the European models (ECMWF) for Hurricane Irma on I cried.
I knew it was coming on Sint Maarten as a Category 4 and there is little chance a boat can survive that.

The American model (GFS) were showing Irma going north, but Levi on mention that the European models were anticipating a stronger Bermuda High keeping the hurricane low - video of Thursday 31

Thursday and Friday I inquire about hotel suites for the week or the month, removed the sails (as insurance requires), put 19 dock lines and 2 chains with 4 more lines to add across the marina 24 hour prior.
All my neighbors thought I was crazy, some call me Spider Man.

I gave myself 24 hours to decide.
As hours went by the European model stay consistant, while the american models slowly started to show Irma more south.
So I booked a suite for 1 week, with option to extend for several month, then posted that I won’t be able to reply any message as I will be vey busy emptying the boat.

Again, my neighbors thought I was crazy (good thing - as I used all day long 1 of the only 2 marina carts).
Sunday and Monday I work non stop from 4.30 (am) until 11.00 (pm) only eating Ricola and drinking coconut water, no time to cook.
I did not even watch the weather, would have been a waste of time, any minute was precious.
Adrenaline kept me running and but couldn’t sleep more than 2 hours, turning and turning and thinking, so I just got up to work.

Today (Tuesday) was my last chance so I started at 3.30.
By 9.30 I had moved 90% of the boat… all my cloth, towels, toiletry, scuba equipment (tanks, BCD, regulators), TV, DVD, food, all the wine, Cachaca, rum, Champagne, etc., most tools, ALL my spare parts (about $70.000 worth new - oil and fuel filter for engine and genset, belt, bow thruster parts, C-Drive parts, air conditioning part, nav light, etc.), 3 of the sail (Genoa, Main and Mizzen) and some of their blocks, main and mizzen preventers, boat cousin, 1 canvas, etc.
In order to save time, I just took the drawers out, anything I could think which I care for or be sold later, I even took out the LED light I put on some of the fixture!
My spare Spade anchor (could not be used, since I already used 2 chains).

Final check to lock the hatches, secure the 2 watertight door, close the valves and kiss my boat.
By then, my neighbors told me it was a Category 5.
Everybody is panicking now trying to empty their boats.

As I was waiting for the marina employee, I even removed the 2 sets of blue, red and yellow lines used with the whisker poles!
With some complications (apparently Marina employees do not work when it is raining…) so thanks to Byron a neighbor - I finally had the last 3 lines across the marina (also thanks to the previous owner as onboard had 2 lines of 100 meter / 330 ft on 2 rolls) they were just long enough to loop the cleats across the marina plus I had a 200 ft 7/8 anchor line I bought last year in San Juan.
Regardless of all the lines (really put for insurance reason) marina employees and myself agree no boat will survive.

No more water at the marina nor hotel, electricity is still on, we have a curfew at 5.00 pm, I saw the military people patrolling.
I bought enough water for 6 weeks.
I am exhausted, feel so beat up I can barely stand up.
I remember during Hurricane Ike in 2008, I couldn’t sleep until the Eye came, this time I think I will sleep through anything.
The Suites have Double Hurricane windows, hope they will hold.
Tomorrow morning 8.00 will be when the eye will pass by.
I suspect communication (internet, phone, etc.) will be down for some time.

In the 5 years I have own NIKIMAT, countless memories.

Wednesday 6 of September 06.30.
I am through the eye now.
It was absolutely terrifying.
Not enough time to give you all the details as it will start again soon.
The wind was absolutely terrifying. I thought the door was going to explode.
I did not know which room was the safest. 
My ears were popping from the wind and low pressure, was like going down an elevator. I took pictures of the barometer, it is stuck on the low. 
2 of the hurricane proof glassed broke, thankfully there is a 2nd layer of glass. 
The rain was so strong it poor around the windows. 
There is about 5 cm or 2 inches of water in the bedroom (lost a few things there).
There is 3 cm or 1 inch of bedroom in the bathroom, which allow me to fill up the restroom and use the toilet. 
There is about 1 cm or 1/2 inch of water in the living room. 
The water has pilled up on the balcony there is about 20 cm / 8 inches. 
I was in the kitchen corner and smell like something burning. 
It was the air conditioning starting to get on fire and had to walk in 2 inch of water to unplug it. 
I was shacking writing things as they happen. 
The hotel employees are so great, they came check on everybody. 
Wind is picking up again got to go.

After 1 hour of calm, the eye has gone through and the wind picked up from another direction, hitting the door, I am afraid it will break so put all the Pelican cases, tool box, sewing machine, rope drum in front of it to add strength.
Now assessing the situation:
The bedroom still has 5 cm / 2 inches of water: step down converter partially under water, shoes and bag of champagne saber wet, the rest is in plastic boxes of waterproof bags, so minimal loss considering the situation.
From what I remember from Ike in 2008, I think lots of rain show come next.
So preparing for the next steps.
I have 20 cm / 8 inch of water on the balcony behind the hurricane window. Just in case I raise my keyboard, spare fresh water pump, etc.
It is hot and dump.
Thankfully the generator is still working and I use a fan to cool down (not going to risk another fire using the air conditioning) and also charging camera, computer and phone batteries.
The rain has not filled up the hotel cistern, somehow I don’t think it will, and water will become a huge issue for hygiene.
Not just for cooking and shower, but mostly for the toilet.
So I transferred some of my stuff into the closets, etc. and fill up 8 large buckets with the water from the bathroom floor.
This will allow me to flush the restroom once a day for several weeks.
My ears are popping again as the pressure is going back up.
Drinking/cooking water will become an issue as I will need to use some for basic hygiene as well - just use 150 cc for basic cleaning, mostly hand and feet.

— then was the message Bill posted —

Then today

The situation has terribly degraded.
People are stealing anything. I took pictures of 20 to 25 people breaking in Blue Point electronic to steal anything they could. They saw me taking pictures I feared for my life and biked away.
I saw hundred of people robbing the grocery store Carrefour.
Many people have become ruthless and savages.
Bobby’s Boatyard did well, most boats safe.
Port de Plaisance marina is devastated, catamaran flipped over, monohull sink.
The hotel 50kw generator is running low on diesel, I went with an employee to NIKIMAT and dove to open the lazaret, 4 out of my 5 Jerry Cans floated (I assume the diesel is good), couldn’t find the 5th one, probably puncture.
The hotel sewer tanks are almost full and about to overflow in the street.
I bought the last water bottles at the grocery store next to my hotel, I am good for several weeks.
Rarely I get internet connection
Army and police are doing their best, but they are very nervous and not enough of them, people still walk at night to try to rob buildings.
This has become a 3rd World Country.
I am more afraid of the people than the Hurricane.

Sincerely, Alexandre

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