I am posting this to share our story with all those who have asked for an update on Mowzer. What we can't forget is the sheer incomprehensible level of devastation for those people who live and make their livelihood on these special islands. We are not alone in the loss of our boat and we sympathize with the many others who have been similarly affected.
Let's rewind back a few months to set the scene. We had left Mowzer on St. Martin for bottom repairs and a paint job at Polypat boatyard. She was situated in the yard, just west of Marigot by the lagoon entrance on the French side. The repairs were planned for about three months out of the water and then life took a turn as we changed plans to return to Ottawa. In June, Henry returned to the boat to prep for hurricane season and check on the repairs. Given we were to remain in Ottawa for a while, thankfully he also took the time to remove and ship home most of our belongings and precious mementos of Mowzer life. While we knowingly left Mowzer on an island often targeted by hurricanes, we weren't planning on being onboard and we filed our plan and received approval from our insurance company. Little did we know that the hyperactive hurricane season of 2017 and September alone would host not one or two, but FOUR major hurricanes, three of which would make landfall in the eastern Caribbean.
September 6 saw the arrival of Irma with a direct hit that devastated the islands of the north-east. Barbuda, the island where we had so much enjoyed viewing the magnificent frigate birds was completely annihilated with 95% of structures destroyed and all residents permanently evacuated from their home island. Saint Martin was next in line for this hurricane which sustained wind speeds of 295 km/hr for over 36 hours and on the morning of September 6 we can only shudder to imagine the conditions on the island.
The first images we viewed showed the twisted and flooded remains of the boat-yards just outside of Marigot and at this point we could only assume that the worst had happened to Mowzer. Reports came in over the next few days, from friends and strangers alike all sharing stories of horror and devastation and although we were miles away, it was a visceral feeling of dread that took up roost deep in our bellies.
|*Meteo Express (Facebook page)|
With communication and power outages on the islands, limited reliable information was difficult to find, but finally on September 13 we were put in touch with marine surveyor David Duong who was in the process of documenting many of the boat yards in St. Martin with his drone footage on YouTube. Here was our first glimpse of Mowzer: at 4:16 in this video Mowzer appears bottom, slightly left of centre with a monohull leaning up against her - no mast, no bimini, keels collapsed.
As you can see the picture is not pretty so we launched an insurance claim and cutting quickly to the end of our story we have now had the boat surveyed and proclaimed a total loss.
The pictures from our survey report tell a more detailed story. It would appear that the monohull leaning up against her helped push Mowzer over on her keels and come to rest on the boat next to her. The aluminum RIB dinghy is amazingly still on the davits but is cracked and has bent the davit structure. The aft port quarter is fractured, the hard-top bimini is completely gone, the mast lies bent and twisted on the ground in front of the boat and the list goes on and on.
Our insurance (Skipper's Plan backed by Aviva Insurance) has acted quickly and efficiently, especially considering the volume of catastrophic losses they must be processing and we are satisfied with that part of the outcome.
Irma may have taken Mowzer, but we have memories, experiences, the fulfilment of dreams and the most amazing, expanded set of friends who have supported us throughout the whole ordeal.
The following pictures were taken by the surveyor (Harbor & Ocean Services Inc., Fort Lauderdale, Florida) and provided in the report to our insurer:
Now, let's remember happier days as we plan our next adventure. Irma may have taken Mowzer but the pursuit of the simple lifestyle and the dream will continue!