So far so good for East Coast 2009 season, so I thought this would be a good time to work on a plan. I have lots of questions, so bear with me. I will throw in pictures to make it more interesting, as this may take awhile. I have read through this thread and many others and have a good understanding of the preparation of the boat (remove everything, chafe, etc) my concerns lie with securing the boat for our conditions.
This is my first boat and the first time to deal with Hurricane prep. We bought "HERON" last summer in CT and sailed her down to our home in NC last fall. The boat is a 35' swing keel model 'Clearwater,' built by Holby Marine (Bristol, RI) in 1990. With her keel and rudder up she draws a little under 2'! She is listed at around 12,000 lbs, the swing keel is 3,500 lbs of lead. I posted more about the purchase and the boat here last year. She is currently at our dock on a creek just outside of Oriental, NC.
I am considering 3 options for hurricane prep; haul her, leave her at the dock or anchor/moor in the local creeks. I am looking for comments and suggestions on the 3 approaches as I work through the options and the details. As NCC320 stated above they all have their virtues and risks. Hauling her is straight forward, other than having to do it early as the local yards get busy. And as mentioned all the yards are at the same land elevation so there is no added protection other than being up on jack stands. Also, the yards get overloaded and boats can end up on stands along local streets, with no tie down options. So its an option, but not particularly what I want to do as I cannot see hauling her 4 days before every storm that 'may' hit the NC coast.
Speaking of the NC coast, where we are at is pretty much where Isabel came ashore in 2003. We are 35 miles northeast of Cape Lookout, across 30 miles of low lands and 5 miles of the Neuse river. It is the exposure to the Neuse and wave action that worries me about staying at the dock. Looking at the picture above, it is a new concrete dock, definitely not floating. There are 6 tall pilings on each side of the dock. There are no other boats at our dock and the nearest neighbors dock is several hundred feet in either direction. This set of pilings has the largest separation at 18 feet, the boats max beam is roughly 11'. The nominal depth at the dock (shown here) is 4 1/2 ', so the keel and rudder are in their up configuration pretty much all the time in the creek. Normal dock lines include 2 spring lines each fore and aft, 2 stern lines and 2 bow lines. The lines are wrapped around the pilings and tied off with half hitches. There are 4 cleats on the boat and they can handle 5/8" line, but 3/4" is too big to get 2 lines through the cleat. A cleat is shown here with 1/2" line, I later replaced them all to 5/8". With my 8 nominal dock lines, the cleats are all used up (with the no more than 2 lines per cleat rule), so I am not sure where I would tie off more lines. Would I use the keel stepped mast? the winches? or would I have to add more cleats?
The pilings are probably 6' above the water line, but the surge from Isabel was greater than that, probably more like 10'. The high mounted cleats on the pilings will keep the lines from coming off, but I don't know how I would arrange it so that she would not ride into the pilings at real high water and yet be free to float to whatever height necessary.
This is the exposure to the Neuse River. The dock direction is at 162 degrees, so the exposure is centered at roughly 155 degrees with about 10-15 degrees of exposure. It makes for a great view from the house (thats another whole hurricane issue to deal with) but we get some wave action from big boats in the Inter-coastal as well as from storms. I can imagine, in a hurricane, there would be periods where the boat would be riding some rough waves from that direction. My concerns are staying off the pilings and not being pounded into the sandy bottom if the water is out. We have had wind associated tide this summer where the bay and the river where blown north and I have been sitting on the bottom. I don't have enough knowledge to know if the water always just blows in and then moves out as a hurricane passes. In general that surge (in both directions) is the major concern for this area, but I don't think it is a smooth monotonic process.
So my questions for staying at the dock are. Can I really expect to keep her away from the pilings given the stretch in lines, the freedom of motion needed and the kind of wind and wave that it would be exposed to? I can spider more lines from my other pilings, but where would I tie them off on the boat? I could put out anchors for and aft in addition to the pilings, can I tie off to the windlass? The dock pilings are tied together, the outside pilings are not, is that a major concern? The boat is a sitting duck for floating logs, will the dock and pilings offer enough protection? If the worst that happens is that she floods and sinks, at least I know where to find her and it is not that deep. Of course, the 30 hp Yanmar may not be happy.
thanks for any thoughts or suggestions. I will consider my anchoring/mooring options in a separate post (without so much as a by-your-leave, I guess).