Remembering back to Hurricane Andrew

Published on August 29th, 2022

It was 1992 when Hurricane Andrew roared ashore on August 24 as a powerful Category 5 hurricane as one of only four Category 5 hurricanes in recorded history to hit the continental United States.

It was the strongest hurricane to hit Florida since the 1935 Labor Day hurricane and was Florida’s costliest hurricane until Hurricane Irma in 2015. Thirty years later, Rick Jarchow, Jr. shares this remembrance:

Hurricane Andrew was churning its way through the Bahamas heading to its ultimate landfall in South Florida that would devastate the sailing community. I was just a teenager in high school when Andrew hit, but I do remember the house shaking, the prep we did to save our family sailboat and the 30-foot PHRF racer that that I had grown up on.

Andrew was headed to Fort Lauderdale, and we were all wondering if our house would survive. My parents had just finished a complete renovation of a 1958 house just a year before and this was before hurricane proof windows and all the innovations that followed Hurricane Andrew.

As we left the house and the boats behind and headed to shelter, the idea surfaced that all that I had known in my still young sailing career was about to be over. Lauderdale Yacht Club, the club that I had grown up at and learned to sail, was directly in the path of the eye.

As my family retreated west to the shelter, we kept hearing that there was a wobble, and the eye moved south. We hunkered down for a long night of the storm, emerging after the storm had passed to hear via radio that the storm had gone south and over Homestead. We still had a ton of debris but nothing like we would see in a few hours when the power started to come back on.

The storm surge had annihilated the Coconut Grove’s waterfront. I was not a J/24 sailor at the time but knew that the fleet was one of the largest at the time, numbering almost 30 boats at the time, but J/24 Fleet 10 lives on as it recently hosted the 2022 Florida State Championship with a 12 boat fleet showing up to race.

In South Florida we really don’t take the summer for granted at all when it comes to sailing and the beautiful Chamber of Commerce conditions that J/24 Fleet 10 provided to the travel teams was nothing other than spectacular, especially with the threat of hurricanes from June to November.

The J/24 remains a great class and with affordable used boats, it presents an immense opportunity for boat ownership and fleet building. In a recent Craigslist post, a private party had five J/24s for sale with prices ranging from $3500-$6500, located in Northern California. Who is going to bring them back to life?

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