I’m guessing that most people know that Hurricane Odile slammed in the Baja peninsula of Mexico on Monday September 15. The cruising community in the entire Sea of Cortez was hit hard.
Two cruisers lost their lives, a third is still missing (update: cruisers found his body on Sunday after searching for five days), the old marina at Santa Rosalia was destroyed with a few boats lost and others seriously damaged, numerous boats at Puerto Escondido were lost and/or on the rocks and at least 25 more in La Paz went aground/in mangroves/on rocks, were sunk or suffered major damage.
There’s no SeaTow or BoatUS to clean things up. Whether it’s refloating boats that can be salvaged, get personal possessions off those that can’t, or removing wreckage, it’s almost totally cruisers helping cruisers. Those with big powerful boats are risking their own boats to help others and remove threats to navigation. Others are spending all day in dinghies serving as support boats and/or searching for the missing. Still others with large watermakers are helping to supply those without (water has been in scarce supply, too). Personal possessions are being cleaned and so much more.
In 2003, Dave and I witnessed first-hand the destruction that a hurricane can wreck upon the cruising fleet and the monstrous effort that goes into the recovery. Hurricane Marty took a similar path up the Sea of Cortez; while we emerged relatively unscathed, we worked with a team of other cruisers to save boats in Puerto Escondido. Read more about our experiences in Re-Floating Winsome and Memories of Marty. We’ve heard from friends who experienced both that Odile was worse.
Some of the cruisers who lost everything don’t have many financial resources and insurance payouts — if they come at all (I know of only a few cruisers who were able to collect on their insurance after Marty; most claims were denied for a variety of reasons) — will be a long time in coming.
The volunteer crew are not only using their time, their fuel, risking their boats and dinghies (in another disaster, I know of two dinghies that were virtually destroyed in getting boats off the rocks), breaking their spare anchor rodes that are being pressed into service as tow lines and more. It’s likely that some will be injured and incur medical expenses. Divers are going through debris; from past experience I’m sure that some are damaging their equipment as the sunken boats are leaking gas and diesel.
Club Cruceros de La Paz is the major cruiser group in the area, and the one that always helps out in an emergency. They are now asking for donations for their Emergency Fund to help with the costs of the recovery — both to help those who lost everything and to reimburse some of the expenses that the volunteers are incurring.
I can vouch for the integrity of the group — we were members of the Club for years, the Commodore (Shelly Ward of La Paz Yachts) is a good friend of ours, and we have other close friends on the board of directors. They’ve done a great job of handling funds in the past.
La Paz and the whole Sea of Cortez holds a special place in Dave’s and my hearts. La Paz was our “winter home” for several years and it doesn’t take too much imagination to figure out how our dog Paz got her name.
I’m asking for donations to the Club Cruceros Emergency Fund. It doesn’t have to be a big donation (although those are appreciated) — even $1 or $2 adds up! Click here to donate.
When I posted this on Facebook, someone commented that this was an “unfortunate choice of photos” as the boat owner obviously hadn’t prepped the boat for the storm and it was hard to have sympathy for their loss. Please remember, that boat still has to be pulled off the rocks and it will be volunteers doing the work. Donations aren’t just for those who had damage to their boats, they also help defray the costs incurred by the volunteers.
My heart is breaking for the cruising fleet there. Please help.
NOTE: There are two other groups also taking donations to help the people of La Paz:
- Fundación Ayuda Niños La Paz (FANLAP) through International Community Foundation — they help some of the poorest people in La Paz during “normal” times and these people, who live in tarpaper and cardboard shacks, were hit especially hard by the hurricane
- International Community Foundation is also taking donations to help with rebuilding and will be partnering with the Mexican Red Cross and FANLAP to disburse the funds.
And anyone who is going to be heading to La Paz is asked to contact Susan Ross (Ross Marine Services) if they have even the tiniest bit of space to bring needed supplies down. She is coordinating those who have space and those who need things. Says Susan:
I just need their name, email and phone number, whether they are driving or flying, date the plan to depart, what border crossing, size and weight limitations. They can contact me at email@example.com.