©KarenKey - photo of Kirk & Heidi at the Friends of Isla de Navidad Fundraiser

Wow, this crazy 2020 year just keeps on getting crazier. With another month to go in the official “hurricane season” (ending Nov. 30), we are HOPEFUL that we don’t get more storms this year. But we’re staying humble cuz we don’t want to jinx it.

Hurricane Genevieve passed near by in August (along with three other hurricanes that went “harmlessly out to sea”), and several tropical storms. The worst of which was Tropical Storm Hernãn, which left a ton of rain and devastation in its wake in neighboring towns on August 28th.

Genevieve-Hernann-maps
Hurricane Genevieve was followed 10-days later by Tropical Storm Hernán, with fuel from Hurricane Laura as she hit the Texas/Louisiana border. At the far right, you can see the spin-off clouds and storm energy from Laura, heading back south-west across the Gulf of Mexico, across Mexico right to Barra de Navidad and Melaque area.

Hernán was not predicted to be much of a problem as it was well off-shore of the Barra de Navidad area. However, as it happened, it caused a 50-year flood dumping over 20″ of rain in 24 hours! This was partly thanks to Hurricane Laura who was smacking Louisiana and Texas at the same time, with spinoff heading right to Barra de Navidad where it fueled Tropical Storm Hernãn to just keep dumping rain.

Heidi & Kirk, Tropical Storm Hernán

As soon as the storm was safely past, we headed out into the WET torrential downpour to check out all of the amazing storm drainage features around the resort and marina grounds. Check out these videos we took during and after Tropical Storm Hernán:

As the rain kept coming, the marina water turned from it’s normally clear blue-green to a chocolate-milk brown. This view below is looking off Due West’s transom into the muddy marina water. Many fish died from all the silt in the water.

muddy water in Isla de Navidad after tropical storm Hernán

[Throughout our posts, click all smaller images to view larger.]

What a difference 20″ of rainwater makes! Photo on left was a few days before Hernán. Photo on right was taken by fellow cruiser Karen Key, s/v Fantasia just after Hernán passed. Look at that chocolate-milk water!

Sadly many people in the nearby towns of Melaqué (“Ma-law-kay”), Jaluco (“Hal-oo-co”), and Cihuatlán (“Zee-what-lawn”) lost everything in the flooding. The water rose so quickly, reports went from it seeping under the doors to being 4-5 FEET deep inside of houses and stores within 30-minutes. No one expected that much rain, so no one was prepared.

So much destruction. Cars and buses stuck full of sandy-mud. And many Mexicans don’t have bed frames, instead, their mattresses are on the floor. So most mattresses were completely ruined with muddy, sandy water. Many household items, TVs, clothing, and cars were also ruined.

A 4-kilometer stretch of road washed out between Cihuatlán and the Isla de Navidad Resort & Marina (see drone video footage), leaving us literally on an island, and leaving hotel guest’s cars stranded while they had to find other ways home. Even today, two months after the storm the road isn’t officially opened. There is a dirt road that is passable through farmland, where you have to get out of your car and open/close three gates to ensure the livestock don’t get out! All visitors, employees, and food must still be brought to the resort via a water taxi from Barra. And the ATM has been out of cash for two months because the armored truck can’t get here. The nearest ATM is 30-minutes away, and this is a CA$H-based society—very few places take plastic cards so you must always plan ahead.

Giving Back to the Barra, Melaque, and Jaluco Communities

Many of those affected by the flooding were employees of the resort or marina or worked on boats at the marina. So as cruisers often do, we all rallied the troops to find ways to help out. Kirk, along with some of the other cruisers, spent a day cleaning up the home of German and his aunt Brenda, both of whom work at the marina/resort.

As far as COVID goes here, unfortunately, Mexicans for the most part are very fatalistic. Maybe that has to do with their Catholic religion? It’s God’s will if they get COVID or don’t, it’s God’s will if they die or don’t. They don’t seem to feel they have a hand in preventing it. So they don’t tend to wear masks, or social distance unless they work in stores that mandate it. Even at the marina/resort where masks are mandated, many employees don’t wear them, and the resort doesn’t enforce mask-wearing with its guests.

However, we are religious about wearing our masks and social distancing. Which sadly has lead to us being somewhat ostracized in the local cruising community (where there are also a lot of anti-maskers!) But we believe the SCIENCE shows that masks help. (Kirk didn’t wear a mask in the photo below because they were all working outdoors with a fresh breeze and sunshine, and socially distanced.) We wash our hands regularly and never go anywhere without our Neal’s Yard Remedies Organic Hand Spray!

The Cruisers also started a fundraiser to raise money and collect clothing for marina and resort employees in need. As if times weren’t already tough enough, many who had been furloughed due to COVID, now lost everything in the floods. We held a socially distanced fundraising pot-luck dinner where raffle tickets were sold to raise money. Many thanks to those of you who donated money. It was spent on new mattresses. Heidi and fellow cruiser Geri collected the clothing donations, then sorted and labeled everything.

Many cruisers donated items for the raffle. Heidi donated two copies of her Food, Mood & Gratitude Journal, along with three pieces of her hand-made jewelry. We have an eclectic mix of cruisers here this year including marine biologist and author Bill Streever, who donated a couple of his books. Bill and his wife Lise also gave an entertaining slide presentation on local marine biology and ocean trivia! And fellow cruiser Steven Dews, world renowned and collected maritime artist, donated a custom painting of the winner’s boat (won by s/v Mason de Sante)!

Lots of great raffle prizes were donated by all the cruisers. We got lucky and won the grand prize, two round-trip tickets on Alaska Airlines, donated by Kim on s/v Eleven 11! We have to use them by March, not sure COVID will be gone enough by then for us to make that happen. Easy come-easy go?

In total, the event raised enough money to buy new mattresses for 23 people! Plus all of the clothes that were donated were dispersed. Big thanks to Karen Key and Stewart Cooper from s/v Fantasia for all of the amazing photography from this event. They are both professional photographers, so check out their other photos of life around Barra de Navidad this season. And thanks to John & Sue on s/v Winston for organizing the whole event.

With the fundraising and clean-up from Tropical Storm Hernán mostly behind us, it was back to the daily grind…

Thanks for stopping by, please check out our next post to see life in and around Barra de Navidad.

Tosh and Tikka send Kitty Kisses, PEACE and LOVE, as do we!

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