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  #1  
Old 08-22-2006
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knothead has a spectacular aura about knothead has a spectacular aura about knothead has a spectacular aura about
Boat lift in a storm

Do any of you have any ideas on how best to secure my boat on the lift in a blow?
This last year we decided to have a lift installed for our Nor'Sea 27'. The lift is well built and is rated at 16,000lbs. The Boat weighs considerably less than that.
My problem is that the company who built the thing seems to be one of those companies that once they recieve payment would just as soon forget that you exist. I've emailed questions to them a number of times only to be assiduously ignored.
What I'm wondering is if when it starts blowing, should I lift the boat as high as I can so that I don't have to worry about storm surge. Or should it be just high enough to keep it from floating to keep the wind from having as much effect on her. I worry that the power may be out when the storm reaches it's height and I won't be able to do anything.
The lift is on four pilings and even in a moderate breeze the boat swings around quite a bit. The pilings even move. I wonder it I should try to tie the pilings to trees or anchors or something.
I love not having to scrape the prop everytime I want to go sailing not to mention no dock lines, fenders or chafe on the rub rail. It's nice not having to worry when I'm out of town and a little squall blows through but just last week the Tampa Tribune ran an article about boats in hurricanes and it mentioned that boats on lifts usually do not survive very well. I think they were mostly refering to power boats but I thought I would get your well respected thoughts on the matter.
thanks in advance, Steve
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Old 08-22-2006
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Cruisingdad is a jewel in the rough Cruisingdad is a jewel in the rough Cruisingdad is a jewel in the rough
Lived through: Gabrielle, Charlie, Jean, Francis, Ivan. I will tell you my humble little experience, though others may have more.

This is just my opinion, not the gospel.

When we rode out Gabrielle on our sailboat, we watched (and filmed) the boats being lifted off their lifts and heading off into the oblivion. Many others were tied to floating docks which come loose when the seas get strong enough and the storm surge high enough.

The wind is bad in theses storms. Don't get me wrong. However, it is the STORM SURGE which seems the killer. Plan accordingly for the surge. We lived on the ICW and we ran our boat all the way up on the lift, stripped everything off of it, AND tied it down. The trick is to be thoughtful about where the boat will come back down after the surge leaves.

You can also find a canal or basin and try stringing across it (if the neighbors let you... which they may not). Still, you could have the same problem. The issue with Hurricane Holes is that you will always have at least one idiot that has no clue how to prep for a huricane, drop a 10 lb danforth, then his piece of junk breaks loose and takes half the boats in the harbor with him.

Thus, my opinion is to run it all the way up on the lift and tie it off with some slack for surge. We also cross tied our boat to keep it from banging all over the place in the lift.

Bottom line though: If the hurricane wants it, it is gone.
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Old 08-22-2006
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CD is right. Storm surge is often what causes the most damage to the boats, especially those on lifts. One problem with tieing a boat down to a lift is that if the storm surge is high enough, then the water will swamp the boat, and water will kill the boat.

Taking the boat off the lift is generally going to be safer, as the boat will not be exposed to the wind as much and will be able to move with the storm surge if it is tied up properly.
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Old 08-23-2006
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Thanks for your thoughts guys. We've been very fortunate so far this year. I hope it holds.
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Old 08-27-2006
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Thanks for your thoughts guys. We've been very fortunate so far this year. I hope it holds.
Crap, now I sorta wish I hadn't brought it up.
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Old 08-27-2006
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The other thing about boat lifts, is that they often fail during a storm because the boat fills up with water, and the additional weight of the water makes the boat exceed the weight capacity of the lift, and breaks it...damaging the boat when it fails.

The only thing that can help is if the lift is located in an area that is fairly well protected from storm surge. If the area is fairly well protected from storm surge, and your lift is capable of lfting the boat clear of what storm surge is leftover, and you have the boat well sealed...then leaving the boat on the lift might work...but it might not.

However, leaving the boat on the lift also exposes the boat more to the damaging effects of the wind and any wind-borne debris. Instead of being exposed from the waterline up, it is exposed completely.
If your boat has enough windage, and the wind is from the wrong direction, the boat may also be blown off the lift or the lift twisted out of alignment. I saw that it happened on a few boat lifts I saw after Isabella hit a few years back, down in the Tidewater area of Virginia. A lot depends on how well built your boat lift is, and how well it can resist lateral loads.
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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.

—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

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Last edited by sailingdog; 08-27-2006 at 10:30 PM.
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