Join Date: Jul 2002
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You''re asking a valid and important question and there''s not a pat answer, just strategies & odds.
"If you are cruising would a marina welcome a stranger during a storm?"
Marinas have varying policies on accepting or keeping boats at their docks when under a Hurricane Warning. In Florida, I understand it''s now a state law that a marina can not turn out a boat owner; I know it is in St. Pete. But the other side of the question is whether you would want to be in a marina (concrete bulkheads? strong, deeply sunk pilings that can''t accommodate a storm surge tide? boats around you with absentee owners and tired dock lines?) - these are not usually ''storm-friendly'' places.
Other than being totally outside the cyclonic storm belt, there are no absolute solutions. Some Caribbean cruisers retreat to Trinidad or Grenada in the summer because they are viewed as hurricane free (which is not true; they just have better odds). Some pull their boat for the summer, even place the keel in a hole in the groud to prevent capsize on the stands, and then leave for home. Some believe in the value of a tidal estuary where they can tie off to mangroves (e.g. Bahia de Jobes in Puerto Rico, one of the few real Caribbean hurricane holes) altho'' they may not get there before the local fishing boats do...plus it must be a pretty terrible experience to ride out a storm in such a setting and, at that point, leaving the boat - if even possible - invites looting. Meanwhile, some folks in my area make private arrangements with property owners along residential canals for securing the boat to opposing bulkheads.
Of course, the reality is that most boats never see a storm and most of those that do, survive. When some do not, it''s usually with the foreknowledge that significant risk is being assumed (e.g. staying in the Virgins for charter business; planning on using Simpson Bay in St. Martin where the bottom is weak and there are 500 boats nearby) and the belief that the crew can adequately cope. You can get the odds very much in your favor and, in cruising as in life, that''s just about the best you can do. What''s left at that point is how well you can manage ambiguity, and whether the joys of cruising compensate you for it.