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josrulz 08-04-2010 10:48 AM

Safe (relatively) location from a hurricane
Hi all,
I thought it a good time to ask this question, since we don't currently have a hurricane bearing down on us. I think that once there is a hurricane, that's a bit late to ask these questions, though hopefully we won't have one here any time soon. :)

Anyway, our boat lives off the South River in a community marina (it's close by and almost free). It's a well-protected creek (though not a hurricane hole) and the docks are reasonably well-maintained, but they are fixed and the slips are small with short pilings. We'd have a very difficult time dealing with any sort of real surge.

So if we were to receive a direct hit, I would think we'd have 3 basic choices:
  • Anchor the boat in a hurricane hole with a number of anchors, etc.
  • Bring the boat to a well-protected marina with floating docks that have very high pilings and nice large slips (hard to come by)
  • Haul the boat at a marina that actually has some land well-above sea-level
I think my preference would be for one of the latter two, where it would be easier to attend to the boat (if needed and relatively safe), but I don't know which marinas/yards might be worth checking out. Some of the big yards in Annapolis, I've noticed, aren't more than a couple feet about the level of the creeks on which they reside. So while they might be nice, professional, boat yards--I'd suspect real surge would get the best of them.

Anyway, I'm not asking for anyone's secret hurricane hole. We're just trying to formulate a basic "plan" for what to do if we get hit with a big storm. There are many prep-lists available for how to prepare the boat. But we're looking for some suggestions on where to do so, since our home-base marina, is probably inadequate. I'm asking this in the Chesapeake Bay part of the forum because we're really asking about local knowledge here, I think.

Any thoughts/ideas on this?

DwayneSpeer 08-04-2010 11:00 AM

not an expert
Let me preface this by saying I've never been thru a hurricane nor expect to here in the northwest but here goes.

Anchoring may work but you would need loooooooooooong anchor lines to overcome the storm surge. Plus 4 anchors put out at the 4 corners.
Using a marina as you described may be an answer but most damage done in a marina is from other boats that weren't tied up correctly, break loose and bang into other boats. Check all other boats in your vicinity.
Hauling out is probably the worst choice as your windage is then very large. You'll get blown over.
The one really good choice that I've ever heard of was a specially built yard where the boats are lowered into holes with only their masts left exposed. Don't suppose that is a choice where you are.

sailingdog 08-04-2010 12:13 PM

IMHO, moorings are a better bet than keeping the boat at a slip, even with floating docks. A helical screw mooring, properly installed, is going to be far more secure with a proper mooring pendant setup than any dock or anchorage is. Hauling out only makes sense if the marina anchors the boat down using tie straps and ground anchor points embedded in concrete. A few marinas have a pit setup, where the boats are lowered into pits in the ground and are essentially protected from much of the wind by doing so, but I don't know of any such marinas in the USA.

kd3pc 08-04-2010 12:30 PM


haulout and blocking, if and only if you are confident the land will you have noticed many of the marinas up that way are but a wide spot away from the water...

second is the hurricane hole...truly, but they are few and far between..the best is to head up the creek and tie off between sizable trees in the channel or run her aground and tie off...

the marinas now adays have often jetted in the main pilings, which are way too short to handle the surge...and your boat jut becomes a pin cushion for them, if they stay in the ground at jetted in means NO holding power at all.

many of the floater piles are too short as well, and the floating docks just float over the top and down the wind...I had friends on a SW VA lake that between the wind piling up the water and the rainfall..the float over topped the almost 6' of piling and washed ashore with the boat still attached.

Down the bay is usually safer as there is more room for the backed up water to spread rather than rise. there are more landed areas (Kinsale, Callao, Smith Point) that offer true wind protection, still are reasonably deep, and offer sturdy tie points...

Eastern shore similarly.. St Michaels is decent as is Kent Island..down the bay solomons

YOu might read up on Boat US, they used to have a good write up there on pre-hurricane, and I know they offer guidance for haulouts and runaway strategy as well as deductible changes if you do or don't do it right in the event of a named storm...

kd3pc 08-04-2010 12:34 PM


Dog has it on the money too, mooring is good and historically moored boats do well unless one of the floaters hits it with boats attached...

If you moor, get the hell out of dodge, as soon as you get her tied don't want to be aboard or trying to get ashore as the storm comes in or out..

SVAuspicious 08-04-2010 01:01 PM

The moorings in Annapolis are on helical screws. I sat through a projected hurricane on one (it was a TS when it went over) a couple of years ago. I sat through two other non-event projected hurricanes on my own tackle. That is my preference. Getting away from docks is a good thing.

eryka 08-04-2010 01:15 PM

Many insurance companies love you to haul out, and will subsidize 1/2 the cost of hauling before a named storm. The problem with hauling isn't so much windage (assuming you prepare by taking down furling jibs, biminis and other canvas) as the ground under the jackstands getting soft and shifting from the rains; a good marina will have staff going around checking as the storm progresses.

There is a thread somewhere on hurricane prep with contributions from many folks on all the details, hopefully the admins will resurrect it and make it a sticky as they have during past hurricane seasons.

We move our 33foot boat to a 50 foot slip and were fine during Isabel with 8 ft of surge 5 years ago. Some friends in the same marina were concerned that a boat near them with an absentee owner was not prepped, they left and anchored in Ridout Creek - appropriate name to ride out a hurricane, you thiink? - and were also fine. Now, we have friends whose house is in a fantastic hurricane hole - their dock is 360 degrees landlocked with high cliffs all around, max fetch measured in yards not hundreds of yards. Its mosquito heaven most of the summer, and our hurricane heaven when we need it ...

josrulz 08-04-2010 02:54 PM

Thanks for the input everyone. It's a good discussion to have, I think.

We do have a few hurricane holes nearby. One spot a friend anchored in during a nor'easter. While it was blowing 35-40 knots on the Bay, the water was almost glassy where he was. This spot is very close to us. Of course 40 knots isn't anywhere close to a hurricane, but you get the idea that it's protected.

I've often read about anchoring in small protected spots like this, and tying lines to trees, etc. But aren't these trees usually on private property? I mean, we can anchor more or less where we want, but tying to trees is another story, no? Thoughts?

I like the mooring idea. I would think that in Annapolis, one of the moorings up Spa or Back Creek would be preferable to those right in the harbor. That said, I'd think there's no way to know if that mooring has been maintained well enough to withstand the storm. And so goes the thought process....

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