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post #22 of Old 08-28-2001
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Hurricane season in Florida

Hi fellow blow boaters! I''ve been looking over the discussion on hurricanes and have some observations, having been in 9 hurricanes and one typhoon. Even had a hurricane form right on top of me off of Haiti back in 1988. Fun!

I agree with the comments that most hurricanes cannot be predicted well. Neil Frank, former director of the NOAA Hurricane Center, likened it to a top, "You can tell the general direction it is going, but the wobbles get you every time."

Most of the writers have had small craft which are easier to secure. I have a 45 foot steel ketch that weighs in at 42,000 lbs. I contracted the hull and built the rest, so I am well aware of her strength.

She cannot be left in a marina for a hurricane simply because she is capable of destroying most of the marina! Shortly after she was launched in June of 1996, and at her very first night on the hook, twas time for Hurricane Bertha to come roaring into the New Bern, NC area. A large surge had built up as she came up Pamlico Sound and the Neuse River. Over 80 percent of the boats docked at the two major marinas in town were sunk or simply destroyed. Floating docks are not nice in a hurricane.

One butt ugly steel trawler was seen to seen to sink 8 boats on her way upriver, and there she went right through the other marina with similar results. She ended up 10 feet above the water on a rock railroad embankment. My personal inspection showed one broken portlight and some dents and scratches. Around her lay the remains of 4 glass boats, hardly identifiable.

My Shiloh was anchored a few miles away and we had very little problem, using a 45# CQR and a Fortress FX23.

So where is all this going? My personal hurricane strategy is to:

1. Go where no one else is if you can so you only have to worry about your own ground tackle, and

2. Stay aboard through Category 2 (praying it doesn''t get worse). You can do a lot for your baby in a Cat 2, but you can hardly move in a 3.

Now, obviously, this decision has gotta be made early on as the storm advances since you are not going to leave her once aboard in a blow.

Finally, we get to my question. I run the boat as a charter vessel out of Stock Island, next to Key West. We draw 5-1/2 feet. The bottom here is quite shallow in Florida Bay, and mostly coral elsewhere. Does anybody know of a good anchorage within 25 miles of Key West with good holding? (No, I ain''t going into the inner harbor at Marathon!)

Sorry for the verbosity.
Rick Hill

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