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mdi 05-06-2012 08:38 AM

Hurricane Hole - How to Choose
I often read about preparations for hurricanes, avoidance, etc... One thing that is always mentioned is to choose a "Good Hurricane Hole". Besides past history reports by sailors of success in specific locations, how do you determine what a "Good Hurricane Hole" is, exactly.

Donna_F 05-06-2012 08:59 AM

Re: Hurricane Hole - How to Choose
You have to listen carefully for the whispers. Most boaters who find a good spot don't want to divulge it lest too many boats show up.

My insurance company prefers that, in my area, the boat get hauled so that's what we do.

I Googled and found lots of information on choosing hurricane holes.

mdi 05-06-2012 09:03 AM

Re: Hurricane Hole - How to Choose
Yes I understand the reasons why but the heart of my question is what specifically do you look for, what are the key elements to choose to determine a "Good Hurricane Hole" besides the history of success or failure of a specific location. Define the characteristics of a "Good Hurricane Hole". :)

c25novi 05-06-2012 10:48 AM

Re: Hurricane Hole - How to Choose
What separates a good spot from bad depends on the nature of the storms and geography of your area as well as the needs of your boat.

Here (Nova Scotia) - hurricanes and tropical storms pack their biggest punch blowing from the East / South East. With that in mind it narrows down the choices. Next thing to consider is the storm surge. That little spit of land can become a frothing reef when there is 6 feet more water than usual.

Ideally - I agree with DRferron - and haul out if you can.


travlin-easy 05-06-2012 11:50 AM

Re: Hurricane Hole - How to Choose
There is NO perfect location that provides complete protection from a major hurricane. Even when the boat is stored on the hard, rising flood-waters often inundate storage areas, and in some instances the boats float off the stands. I saw that happen once in a hurricane hole in southeast Florida.

Last year, when a hurricane hit the area I decided to double up the lines, lengthen them so the boat would be able to rise with flood-waters to 10 feet, and hope for the best. The adjacent condos protected the boat from the 85 MPH winds, but when the wind shifted to the opposite direction the lanyard holding my wind-generator blades in place sheared. The wind generator sounded like a jet engine, then one of the blades shattered, throwing the whole thing off balance, vibrating so hard the prop hub shattered like glass, then it just locked up. Repair costs were ridiculous and I gave it away.

Flood waters arrived two days later, the result of heavy rains in upstate Pennsylvania and New York. The river quickly rose about 8 feet, parts of houses and massive trees floated downriver in the sea of raging mud. When the water receded, there was 10-inches of mud covering the piers and sidewalks, the marina swimming pool and adjacent pool house were nearly destroyed and most of the slips are now about a foot or two shallower than they were prior to the storm.

This photo was shot as the water was rising. The electric box next to my boat was underwater three house after the photo was taken. Somewhere to the left, there is a swimming pool beneath the muddy water.

Several years ago, most of the boats were pulled to avoid hurricane Camile. The water rose to the point where the parking lot for the boats was under 4-feet of water. Fortunately, none floated from their jack stands, but some came close to lifting off and floating away.

Good Luck,

Gary :cool:

catamount 05-06-2012 11:52 AM

Re: Hurricane Hole - How to Choose
Hurricane Hole = protection from wind, waves, and storm surge combined with good opportunities for securing the boat (e.g. excellent holding ground if anchoring). So you want to minimize fetch from as many directions as possible or at least certainly from the directions from which you expect the wind to be strongest. The other issue to contend with are the other boats -- you may have a very secure mooring, but if there are other less-well secured boats around you that could break free in the storm, they could total your boat on their way to the rocks.

DoubleEnder 05-06-2012 12:24 PM

Re: Hurricane Hole - How to Choose
My boat is moored at the top of Buzzards Bay. One of the worst places in a real hurricane because of the funnel like affect of the bay. I agree with the good advise given above by Catamount.

Too many times I've seen boats that were hauled get more damage than those left in the water. There is no real safe place here in the bay.

My hurricane plan these days is to head for Maine. I know a good hole that's much better than anything here in Massachusetts. Why do I know it's good? Because of all the lobster boats that come in and dry out in the weeds. ;)
Those guys know what's good!

travlin-easy 05-06-2012 04:00 PM

Re: Hurricane Hole - How to Choose
One of the things a guy in my marina learned the hard way was to position his boat in such a manner that his mast and his neighbor's mast cannot make contact. During the height of the storm last fall both boats masts slammed together, resulting in serious damage to both masts and their associated rigging.

Gary :cool:

CarolynShearlock 05-10-2012 03:53 PM

Re: Hurricane Hole - How to Choose
I'll start by agreeing with Catamount -- minimize fetch from ALL directions. If you get a direct hit (we did) the wind will do a 180 switch as the eye passes, and waves will come from pretty much all directions as it switches.

But as important as that is, remember that it takes everyone in the anchorage to survive a hurricane. By that, again agreeing with Catamount, it doesn't matter how perfectly your boat is prepared if your neighbor's boat isn't . . . and a boat even a mile away can present a hazard if it breaks loose and has a jib come unfurled.

Two points from this: you want a location where other owners properly prepare their boats, and offer help if you see someone else needs a hand with getting sails down below, checking a mooring or whatever -- you're not just helping to save their boat, but maybe yours as well!

Cruisingdad 05-10-2012 06:10 PM

Re: Hurricane Hole - How to Choose

Originally Posted by sidney777 (Post 867913)
A bayou, a river, and strong trees or no trees around. Tie one end of boat to land(trees as I/we did), and other to TWO ANCHORS).....And LUCK. .... My sailboat and others survived in a direct hit area by hurricane Ivan (140 mph winds). ... But some boats were blown up into trees and on land. Other areas the Storm Surge lifted boats up and deposited them on land or restaurant parking lots. I prefer to be near a vacant land area where waves can't build. Also, don't stay on boat(sorry but some people think they should)...
Match up with another boater or many boaters and help each other tie up to shore, move anchors away from your boat at a distance and angle from your boat. Also, helping each others motor out to your boat before and after the Hurricane . Thieves may visit boats and houses after the hurricane hurricane., so you my want to live on your boat afterward.

Of course try to put alot of room between you and other boats, and have a way to travel back and forth. Have proof you own the boat with you to show the National Guard & police when you want to get back to your boat !

Absolutely! Great reply.

Let's me say what I have seen. Many boats will sink an most will drag. How do you avoid a getting caught up by someone elses boat? ancohring away from everyone else and a lot of luck.

I think finding a hole or a river is the best if you can especially get deep in the mangroves. This rules out many boats becuse of their draft. Protection from wind on all sides is great, but it is probably the Storm Surge that will get you. Account for that when considering scope. WHen we rode out Gabrielle on the boat, I saw every bit of 4-6'... and that is nothing. But the waves from the gulf side and wind makes that much more treacherous.

It was mentioned to haul if you can. Boat US pays for half of this and will even help pay for a Captain to move your boat to get her hauled as I recall. Also, leave the boat. It is said there is nothing you can do in a hurricane if you ride it out on board. I dissagree. You can watch for chaffing and raisinglines. But there will quickly come a point when you cannot get off and you are stuck there and on your own. Most anyone that has ever done it swears they would never do it again. That includes me.

Another comment above is making sure you have ownership papers and ID. That is critical. After the storm goes through, assuming you evac'd, they locals law enforcement/Natl Guard will be checking to make sure you are a local or they will not let you back.

Ii wrote a long thread about Hurricane Preparation. Guess its getting close to that time of year again. And for all the hype, the real odds of getting hit head on by a major hurricane (or really one at all) is quite small.

Hope that helps.


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