Barry Harrison was among those who lost their homes as result of the destructive Hurricane Dorian, his home on the island of Hopetown in the Bahamas falling prey to a direct hit and the 180-plus mile per hour winds that came with it.
The lucky part for Harrison: the Des Allemands native was working in Fort Lauderdale at the time, so he was far away from Dorian’s wrath as the storm approached his home. He sails professionally and moves boats for a living.
But though he’s thankful he was away from the destruction, that’s sadly where his luck ended. His boat and home was destroyed and almost all of his possessions lost.
“It was a short delivery, so I packed a few pairs of shorts four T-shirts,” Harrison said. “It was a five-day thing. So now that’s all I have left.”
He wasn’t shocked by it, though.
“When the eye went over Elbow Cay, I knew there was no hope at that point,” Harrison said. “And (his boat) was on really good mooring. All the moorings disappeared.”
He added that with his lifestyle, the chance of a storm displacing him goes with the territory.
Harrison has lived completely “100 percent solar” since 1988, using solar and wind power to generate electricity. He did not have air conditioning or refrigeration in his home and catches rain water to drink. He estimates he reads a book a day, and when he’s not reading, he’s working.
“I live a really simple lifestyle,” Harrison said.
He comes from a military family and has been all over the world, be it for that reason or, later on, his sailing experiences. He worked as a chemical plant engineer for years before he realized he needed a change in his life.
“I just got tired of the noise, the pollution … I was getting too stressed out,” Harrison again. “I had heartburn every night. The day I quit, that all went away.
“I realized I can have some fun before I die.”
He’s been to France, Portugal, Fiji, New Zealand, Australia, and all over the Gulf and East coasts of the U.S.
“My family growing up moved all over the place … I guess I never stopped,” Harrison said with a chuckle. “I’m still a nomad … like an old 60’s hippie. Not quite, but close enough, I guess.”
Since the storm, he’s had to learn to adjust to life back inland. He’s staying with his brother, currently, and plans to buy a boat and move back to Des Allemands for the time-being.
“I’m gonna see what develops. I don’t have a big plan for it all right now,” he said. “I’m getting re-integrated. I don’t drive, so I don’t have a vehicle … so that’s one thing in terms of getting re-established. In the U.S., that’s a necessity.
“I’ve been depending on my brother,” he said, before adding with a chuckle, “but I don’t know how long he’ll want to drag me around. He’s been a very good brother to me, but I’m trying to find another boat as we speak.”
In many ways, he’d almost forgotten what life here is like.
“I’m amazed at the abundance here,” Harrison said. “Even just going to the grocery in the Bahamas and doing the same thing here, in terms of quality and quantity, it’s such a dramatic difference.”
Harrison’s son, Kris, established a GoFundMe page (Barry Harrison Hurricane Dorian relief fund) to help raise funds for Harrison to regroup and get back on his feet with new necessities and perhaps put funds toward a new boat.
The father appreciates the help, though he also carries a positive attitude about his recent misfortune.
“You know, it’s just part of the deal … with my lifestyle, you occasionally get a storm if you live in the south. And I don’t like the winter,” Harrison said. “There’s nothing you can do … now I’ve just gotta pick up and get going.”