Seeing how this week we have our first named tropical storm, Alex, I thought I would mark the occasion by posting an image shot during Hurricane Hugo. For those who may not remember the specifics, Hugo reached category 5 status in September of 1989 and struck various Caribbean islands and eventually made it’s way into South Carolina leaving in its wake a massive path of destruction.

I happened to be on my father’s sports fishing boat in St. Thomas of the U.S. Virgin Islands when Hugo formed. Along with the boat’s captain and the two fishing mates the four of us decided to confront the storm off Virgin Gorda in the BVI. It was a crap shoot deciding where to actually go and fortunately for us we made the right decision. Other boats decided the would stay in St. Thomas or go east to the island of Culebra or even Puerto Rico.

In Virgin Gorda we found a small bay lined with mangroves where we threw out all the anchors we had and tied all the ropes we could to the mangroves. At about 4 a.m. we were hit with winds of 110 mph that continued for a very long 8 hours. We could see boats around us loosing anchorage and being rag-dolled by the fierce winds; some did not make it. Fortunately for us the mangroves held our lines tight and help ease the strain on the anchors. We suffered some minor damage but nothing compared to the fate of so many others. Those that stayed in St. Thomas or ventured east took the brunt of the category 4 and 5 winds; the destruction was devastating.

I took this photograph at about 6 a.m. during the worst of the storm. I was able to walk out on the cockpit of the boat and snap several images with an amphibious Nikonis camera. Once back in the salon of the boat I removed the film from the camera and placed in a waterproof bag in case we sunk; the one thing I did not want to loose was that film!

So now we are back in hurricane season and while I don’t wish one to hit anywhere near populated areas if one does and it finds me in the vicinity I’ll be sure to have a camera ready–and some waterproof bags!

(NOTE: All Picture of the Week images are available for purchase at where you can view the ever growing collection. Prints in three sizes and finishes can be bought inexpensively directly online. Start a collection or give them as gifts. Either way they are one of a kind Arruza images that tell a story.)

Technical details:

  • Nikonis III
  • Nikkor 35mm/2.0 UW
  • Ektachrome 800/1600 (EES) at 1600