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  #1  
Old 11-03-2012
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When is it time to go?

First, let me say I mean no disrespect to those who had boats crushed by Sandy. I did a lot of time in NOLA during the recovery period following Katrina and have some feel for the pain. That is NOT what this post is about.

If you were cruising the north Jersey coast a week before Sandy hit, I think there is little question what you would do; you would haul a__ to some other place, probably the north Chesapeake, but perhaps up the Hudson (I don't know the area). In fact, I've been in Cape May when a hurricane was approaching and that is what we did; we cut our plans short and made tracks. I'm guessing that there were very few transients in the neighborhood when the storm arrived. However, I did not see a migration of boats into the Chesapeake either. I may be wrong about the northern bay; if I am, please say so.

What would I do if it were my home marina at risk, where I presumably feel safe? Can't say from personal expereince, as my home marina is a hurricane hole in the mid-Chesapeake. Would I hesitate to leave, even if I KNEW analytically speaking that I was in the wrong place, because it felt like home? Or would I be smart and book a slip in a safer area and travel for 2 days to get there? I would as a cruiser, but I'm afraid I might not if it were my home slip.

Some plan a hide-away hole, some some plan on insurance.

Do marinas have any tendency to reject transients ducking a hurricane, assuming they are in a relatively safe area?

If you were cruising, would you find a good place to tie-up, even if in the storm's cross hairs, and drive to a safer hotel inland? I doubt most would.

Thoughts?
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Old 11-03-2012
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Re: When is it time to go?

If I could find a good hurricane hole in time I'd go there. If not, I'd haul the boat.
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Old 11-03-2012
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Re: When is it time to go?

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Originally Posted by pdqaltair View Post
Would I hesitate to leave, even if I KNEW analytically speaking that I was in the wrong place, because it felt like home?
I struggled with precisely these emotions last weekend as Sandy approached. I am typically on a mooring in the Connecticut River just outside my marina (Island Cove). While the mooring is exposed to the North and East, the marina itself provides excellent protection and the marina staff offered me a spot at the dock without hesitation. I've done the same thing before other storms including Irene.

What they couldn't offer was protection from the surge. I was concerned that the docks were going to float off the pilings. I could have hauled out, but I was worried that the surge might float her off the stands

After spending Saturday on the dock and fretting about the surge, I decided to move the boat on Sunday afternoon to the other side of the river, which would have been in the lee of an East wind and ride it out on multiple anchors. While making those preparations, I decided to check out the possibility picking up a mooring in the same area (behind Calves Island in Old Lyme).

Glenn, the owner of Old Lyme Marina, went out of his way to set me up with a 500# mooring with an extended pennant despite the fact that he was scrambling to protect his marina at the same time. My boat (and the other boats there) rode out the storm without a problem.

In the end, I probably would have been OK at the dock, but putting the boat on the mooring and paying the extra $ made it one less thing I had to worry about in advance of the storm (my house is only 11' above MHW). The surge stopped a foot or so below the point where the docks would have been at risk and the Island Cove Marina staff made creative use of 8 foot long pieces of sewer pipe to extend the height of their shorter pilings.

Please note - I have no connection with either marina other than as a grateful customer.

In the attached pic, the circle is where I was on the dock and the "X" marks the mooring.

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Old 11-03-2012
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Re: When is it time to go?

The calculus of figuring out what to do when tropical weather will be bearing down is not so simple or straight forward. Usually, in the northeast near NYC we don't get the "wrong" side of the hurricane which can build up a huge tidal surge in a place like the NY Bight (sea between LI & NJ) as happened on Monday. I watched the river come over its banks.
Normal tidal range should be a part of your decision making. How close to the center or being on the "wrong" side of the hurricane should also be a factor. I was so close to pulling the trigger on getting my boat hauled out but ended up riding it out on the mooring again, successfully. Yes, we did prep the boat for it but no, I did not expect 10+' of tidal surge up the Hudson River.
Last August we had TS Irene which was very different, if not equally devastating for some areas. Our boat withstood that one on it's mooring and pennants; the same ones that got us through Sandy. Note to self: time to inspect and replace some of the mooring gear and chain.

It is nice to think that you can get to some hurricane hole and tie off a spider web of lines to nearby trees but it is difficult for everyone to do. I think that most of us do as much as we can and make as reasonable plans and leave the rest up to ... hope and faith.
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Old 11-04-2012
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Re: When is it time to go?

I was glad to haul my boat out of the water on Friday, October 26th, while Sandy was near Miami.

Even the liveaboards in the marina were hauled out of the water.

The marina where I keep my boat requires that you leave or haul when a named storm approaches. That seems wise given the risk to life and possible damage to property. While I briefly considered anchoring in a nearby hurricane hole, I decided it was not worth it to me. The wisdom of hauling is demonstrated by the fact that my boat insurance company (Boat U.S.) reimburses me for half my cost of hauling out.

If I lived aboard, I might have made a different decision and taken to a hurricane hole.

Last edited by jameswilson29; 11-04-2012 at 03:37 PM.
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Old 11-04-2012
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Re: When is it time to go?

The one problem I have with hauling, is that at least here in the South there aren't enough berths at the yards to get everyone on the hard. It is not uncommon that by the time a hurricane approaches there are few if any spots left to haul nearby. And trying to make it a hundred miles or more to the nearest yard with space just isn't feasible.
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Old 11-04-2012
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Re: When is it time to go?

I certainly didn't mean to suggest the calculus was simple. It's not.

Hauling out can help, but it's not a sure cure. At many marinas in north Jersey, hauling out was only a little better than staying in; owners who made either decision were damaged or came out unscathed. The same is true of my experience with Katrina; some friends that stayed in were fine, some that hauled out were destroyed. As for insurance companies, they go with global averages, not local conditions. The lesson from Sandy is that the haulout yard should be above any practical storm surge.

Another problem with hauling-out is timing; often many that want hauled simply can't get it done in time. In other cases, there simply isn't that much land.

When I said I was in a hurricane hole, I did not mean I was tied to trees. I meant that I am in a marina up a creek in the Chesapeake, somewhat protected by trees. Hurricanes loose much steam by the time they get that far up the Bay. Unsurvivable storms are thus, very, very unusual in most marinas (a few are too exposed to the Bay). What I was suggesting is that for many sailors, running to the upper Chesapeake is almost always safe.

As for surge, tying a boat up properly should handle that, and I've been through that. While the Chesapeake can get a big surge, it is not, by itself, generally a hazard to boats between pilings. A 14-foot tidal range is just not that unusual some places.
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Old 11-04-2012
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Re: When is it time to go?

Having lived on the southwest coast of Florida since 1993, Hurricane preparation is an annual ritual, both for our home and our boat including loading up with extra supplies of fuel, food, water and essentials for a month of self sufficient living, if necessary. We also developed a formal storm plan for the yacht that, after Katrina, became a mandatory requirement for our insurance coverage. I do not agree with the idea of hauling a yacht out as, ashore, she is out of her element and dependent upon stands and supports that will be undercut by rain and surge and dependent upon tie-downs that may or may not hold, particularly when the storage yard is subject to surge that may float her off her stands or hold her in place for awhile, pounding against the ground/stands/ and other yachts that may have broken loose.

When we are threatened, we strip the canvas and sails off the yacht, run her lifts, halyards and the like to the masthead with 1/8" messenger lines (to minimize windage) ensure that the fuel tank is topped off, shut down non essential electrics to ensure that all our battery power is reserved for the bilge pumps, if necessary, and move as much expensive equipment off the boat as possible to minimize losses in the event the yacht is lost. We secure the yacht in our marina, which is relatively well protected with large (2'x5') inflatable fenders and fender boards, and double up lines, particularly surge lines, secured to "Tide Minders" that will roll up and down our pilings as the height of the water changes. We also prepare our storm anchors as, if the wind will be coming out of the south, across our breakwater, and the predicted surge/waves will top the breakwater, we move the yacht out into the River and anchor her on a 3-point storm set, favoring the south shore of the River to gain the lee of the land there. The decision as to whether to remain in the marina or anchor out is reserved until we have a clear sense of the track of the storm.

As for quitting the house, that decision is delayed again until we have a clear sense of the track of the storm as, at least here, earlier departure may well have one running into the path of the storm rather than out of it as many discovered during hurricanes Charley and Whilma. When it is clear, however, if necessary we finishing boarding the place up and head out. IF we remain in the house, our final preparations including lining the bathtubs with plastic and filling them and making as much ice as reasonably possible, recognizing that power may/will be out for an extended period. Fortunately for us with few exceptions our power lines are under ground and less subject to damage than is the case in other areas. We also have natural gas which has never been interrupted although we do turn off the main gas valve to the house somewhat before a storm arrives to ensure that, if there is any problem with damage, it will not be compounded with an uncontrolled flow of gas. (A CNG powered generator also comes in handy to provide power in the absence street mains.) Has the folks in Long Island taken such precautions, the Breezy Point Fire might not have happened.

Frankly, in my opinion one of the principal reasons the northeast is suffering so badly is because folks simply did not, or did not know how, to prepare for the storm and many didn't take the warnings to heart. I find it astonishing that within two days of the event, so many people are out roaming around looking for food, water and fuel unless their homes were destroyed. And why folks in high-rise buildings didn't realize what their lives would be like without power escapes me. (But why residential high rise buildings are not required to have auxiliary generators to provide minimal service--at least elevators--also escapes me.)

I could go on but to what end?
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Old 11-04-2012
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Re: When is it time to go?

Quote:
Originally Posted by svHyLyte View Post
H

Frankly, in my opinion one of the principal reasons the northeast is suffering so badly is because folks simply did not, or did not know how, to prepare for the storm and many didn't take the warnings to heart. I find it astonishing that within two days of the event, so many people are out roaming around looking for food, water and fuel unless their homes were destroyed. And why folks in high-rise buildings didn't realize what their lives would be like without power escapes me. (But why residential high rise buildings are not required to have auxiliary generators to provide minimal service--at least elevators--also escapes me.)

I could go on but to what end?
I find it amusing that with the loss of power threatened, people go and clean out the PERISHABLE foods from the grocery.

The day after Sandy I went to my boat to check but mostly to hang out and tel-commute (power was out at the office). On the boat, the lights were on (battery and inverter + solar), the heat worked (propane) and the food was plentiful (always keep non-perishable). Computer was functioning via air card. In other words, just like any day cruising.

At home we cooked, ran the wood stove, and used flashlights and lanterns as needed. We really would not have needed to go out for about a week, though the limitations on lighting were annoying.
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Old 11-04-2012
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Re: When is it time to go?

One might think that losing power in Manhattan should have little effect on someone already accustomed to living aboard. Alas, the extended power outage reduced conditions in my Midtown mid-rise apartment to below those of even primitive liveaboards. Primarily, preparedness for living without power and fresh water were minimal at best: a bucket of gray water for flushing and two flashlights. I have little issue with navy showers, but pressed slacks and starched shirts, which are still needed daily, are already a fading memory. Takee-outee food delivery only recently restarted.

The difference might be simply the colder climate and immediate weather. Living aboard, a quick dip in the bay followed by a freshwater scrub with microfiber sufficed for personal hygiene. Nearby eating establishments took care of the other immediate needs. A working head and holding tank are the expected norm, not extremis. As it turned out, even a day-sailer's bare accommodations are more pleasant than my "luxury" mid-rise.

I know that others have it worse, and continue to suffer the full effects. However, the high point of my mornings last week was holding my morning bowel movement until after the slowly recovering subway delivered me to my daytime environment. It's a new low for me, and hope to never have to repeat it.
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