I’ve been in the path of more hurricanes than I recall the names of. A few come to mind: Bob, Georges, Floyd, Isabella, Charley, Frances, Jeanne, Katrina, Wilma and Irene. These tips came from those experiences.
Not long ago, floating docks weren’t safe to use in hurricanes. Now, storm-engineered floating dock systems survive Category 4 hurricanes, but that doesn’t necessarily make them safe.ÃÂ
Hurricane-rated dry storage facilities and many boat yards offer annual contracts to store boats during every named storm that threatens, often garnering insurance breaks for the boat owner.
On a Trailer
Capt. Will Beck, owner of Sea Tow Palm Beach, says, Ã¢I can readily find an empty warehouse big enough for my eight trailerable boats.Ã¢
Capt. Chris Shaffner, who owns TowBoatU.S. Palm Beach, keeps his trailered boats outside. Ã¢Get the boat as close as you can to a strong building â anything to break the wind,Ã¢ he says. Avoid trees, power poles and also construction sites that create flying debris.ÃÂ
Avoid Open Anchorages
Ã¢Hurricane holesÃ¢ that we used to snug boats into now have waterfront homes with boats, and anchoring in open water doesn’t work. Ã¢No matter how good your ground tackle is, someone else’s will fail,Ã¢ Beck says.
Ã¢For the time you spend blocking a trailer, tying it down, removing the canvas and then putting everything back later, just get in the truck and move the boat away from the forecast track cone,Ã¢ Shaffner says.ÃÂ
Where to keep your boat
A secure marina may not be the most hospitable location during a hurricane. There are several important considerations. Does the dockmaster have an established hurricane plan in place? If not, will you be required to evacuate?ÃÂ
Your boat parts online professionals know that if you plan to keep your boat in a marina, you’ll need to consider your boat and slip design as well as the harbormaster’s configuration.ÃÂ
Go to http://www.stainlessmarine.com/product-category/crossover-stat-housing-kits/ and see how you can find more information as well as get assistance on boat parts online and on how to prep and store your boat during hurricane season at Stainless Marine.
Assess the condition of the marina docks. Are cleats firmly attached? Are the pilings solid? Can the physical condition of the docks, piers, pilings and cleats withstand the tremendous forces involved in hurricane conditions?ÃÂ
The key to your docking plan should be long lines â the longer the better â to accommodate the predicted storm surge. A good rule of thumb: Storm lines should be at least as long as the boat itself.ÃÂ
Your efforts should prevent your boat from moving laterally and at the same time allow it to rise and fall during storm surge. Storm surge may raise your boat completely above adjacent pilings.ÃÂ
Canals, rivers and waterways are usually better alternatives to marinas, although many of the same problems exist. And each requires a different approach. In canals, try to secure your boat in the center, tying the boat to both sides using the spiderweb technique.ÃÂ
In a blow, the boat is forced to lift the chain. As the wind subsides, the chain settles back down, re-centering the boat. This arrangement also allows for significant amounts of storm surge while keeping the boat centered, because all chain assemblies must be lifted simultaneously.
Hurricane holes also offer an alternative to crowded marinas. In an ideal hurricane hole sturdy, tall trees and root lattices tend to protect the boat from high winds, in addition to providing excellent terminal points for dock lines and anchors.
Considerable testing of the holding power of anchors in all types of bottoms has been conducted by West Marine, BOAT/U.S., numerous anchor manufacturers and Cruising World (April ’96). Most effective were the fluke-type anchors such as Bruce, CQR and Danforth, which bury themselves under load. Mushroom and dead-weight anchors drag with relatively little effort.ÃÂ
In all mooring and anchoring arrangements, remember to increase scope to allow for storm surge â 10:1 if possible. Use heavy, oversized chain and oversized line in an approximate 50/50 ratio for the bow line. If you are using all-chain rode, use a sturdy snubber approximately 1/10 the length of the rode.
Test the holding ground. Anchor pull tests show that the best holding grounds are hard sand, soft sand, clay, mud, shells and soft mud, roughly in that order. Note that burying-type anchors in an ideal bottom may be impossible to retrieve after a storm.
Boats stored ashore should be well above the anticipated storm surge levels, which is sometimes difficult because most marinas and yards are at or near existing water levels.ÃÂ
How to secure your boat
No matter where you’ve decided to keep your boat â in a marina, at a dock, in a canal, hurricane hole or on a mooring, there are several additional points to consider: chafe, cleats and chocks, and windage.
Wind force, and the damage it causes, increases exponentially. A doubling of wind speed increases the force on your boat four times.ÃÂ
Nylon line is well known for its ability to stretch under loads. Under severe loading, however, friction from stretching increases the internal temperature of the line to the point of meltdown. Heat from increased chafe accelerates the wearing process. Normal chafing gear is totally inadequate under hurricane conditions.ÃÂ
Secure the chafe protectors to the docking lines. Canvas protectors can be sewn or tied to the line in a similar fashion.
Lines should also be larger in diameter to resist chafe and excessive stretching.ÃÂ
Beef up your dock cleats by adding backing plates if your boat doesn’t already have them â unbacked cleats may pull out of the deck under heavy loads. Use stainless steel plates. Make sure you use the largest size screws that will fit through the mounting holes in the cleats.ÃÂ
Remove everything to reduce wind resistance: Biminis, antennas, deck-stowed anchors, sails, running rigging, booms, life rings, dinghies and so on. Besides reducing windage, you eliminate the probability of these items being damaged or blown away.
Remove furling headsails. Even when furled, they offer a sizable amount of wind resistance and additional load on the headstay.ÃÂ
Preventing water damage
Rain during a hurricane flies in every direction including up. Remove all cowl ventilators and replace with closure plates or tape off the vents using duct tape. Make sure Dorade box and cockpit drains are clear of debris.ÃÂ
Use duct tape and precut plywood panels to cover exposed instruments. Examine all hatches, ports, coaming compartments and sea lockers for leaks. Use duct tape to seal them off. Make sure that all papers (magazines, books, catalogs) are high enough in the boat to prevent them from getting wet if the cabin is flooded.
What to bring aboard
The list of items to be taken aboard include everything you’ve assembled beforehand to prepare your boat. Many times, the extra Ã¢hurricane onlyÃ¢ items will be stored ashore â a well-organized list ensures nothing is missed when the hurricane package is taken aboard: extra lines, chafing gear, fenders, anchors, swivels, shackles, duct tape, bung plugs â all the items identified during your planning session.
Make sure your batteries are fully charged. If needed, take additional batteries aboard to boost available capacity.
Moving your boat before a storm
If you plan on moving a trailerable boat out of the hurricane area, get out early. Many communities prohibit cars with trailers on the road after issuing a hurricane watch. Before the season arrives, inspect your trailer for defects and fix them.
During your test run, make a diagram of how your mooring/docking lines will be arranged. Note any additional equipment you’ll need to secure your boat and add it to the list.
Finally, leave early! Waiting to take action until a storm’s imminent arrival is inviting disaster. A hurricane warning is issued when sustained winds exceeding 64 knots are expected within 24 hours. Hurricane-proofing your house or evacuating the area will take precedence over boat safety.ÃÂ
After you’ve secured your boat, double-check everything. Turn off all electrical power except the bilge pumps. Test bilge pump switches and pump intakes for debris.
Don’t stay on your boat! Fifty percent of all hurricane-related deaths occur from boat owners trying to secure their boats in deteriorating conditions. Develop a well-thought-out hurricane plan, be prepared to implement it in the shortest possible time and, when completed, leave the boat to its own survival.
But the best efforts to predict the path or the intensity of a storm at a given moment still escapes even the best scientists and the most advanced computers.
So don’t forget these helpful pointers on how to prep and store your boat during hurricane season. 1) You could considerÃÂ storm-engineered floating dock systems; ÃÂ 2) avoid open anchorages; ÃÂ and 3) develop a well-thought-out hurricane plan, be prepared to implement it in the shortest possible time and, when completed, leave the boat to its own survival.
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