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  #91  
Old 08-11-2009
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I'll add our plan to the collection, but I should say that different plans are suitable for different captains and their vessels. We are fulltime liveaboard cruisers who own nothing that is not aboard our boat. We are now in Boston and don't expect to be back in Florida until November; however, this does not protect us from all tropical weather systems. We have remained on board our vessel with no damage for five hurricanes in Florida and the Bahamas with winds ranging from minimal hurricane status to 110mph.

Our first strategy is to commit to locating a safe spot at anytime that a hurricane can reach our position within three days. We do not choose to find this safe spot only if we are in the predicted path, but at any time that the distance between us and the storm is decreasing. Hurricane protection follows those same three rules that are always quoted when evaluating real estate,- Location....Location...& Location! Our search is for a location that has eight qualities. We rarely find a place that has all eight, but we usually meet most of the following criteria:

1. Inland- The harsh effects of hurricanes diminish as you move further from the coast. We look for rivers or estuaries that are well inland.
2. Little Fetch- Damage from wind and waves will be less if you are anchored in a confined area with little distance across the water in all directions.
3. Holding Substrate- We prefer a bottom with mud or sand that will allow a secure hold for our anchor.
4. Shallow- With the potential for rising water levels, we want to start in water that is not deep so that our rode to depth ratio will remain high. Our best hide out has a 6' depth and we deploy 250' of chain.
5. Elevated Surroundings- We do best if the adjacent land is elevated or even if we are surrounded by land with tall trees or buildings.
6. Little Debris- We avoid places with loose materials on shore, flimsy sheds, docks, logs,- any materials that may break free and come upon us.
7. Forgiving Shore- We avoid rocky shores, cement bulheads.- a marsh or mud bank is best if we were to break free.
8. Few Other Vessels- Our best hide out does not appear to be accessable by the charted information and we don't suggest to others that they join us.

At a location with these requirements we lay on one anchor that allows us to always face directly into the wind. We remove windage and place multiple chafe-guarded snubbers on our chain. I know most people have other needs,- houses, family, businesses.... that would prevent them from this choice, but we are not committed to any other concerns and we are free with our time to find our safe hurricane hole. 'take care and joy, Aythya crew
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I've been aboard for a few hurricanes and while I can't suggest that as an option, I survived more than a dozen by being off the dock and on the hooks.

The greatest damage I've seen from hurricanes is other boats breaking loose and taking out your boat, not understanding how much the water can rise and how dangerous it is to be anywhere near a piling, and not preparing the boat.

While the wind will howl, it's the water that does the damage. Tides will rise significantly so it's important to have enough scope in lines so the rise won't cause the lines to separate, the cleats to come out of the deck, or your anchors to fail. Rain will find any hole to leak into so it's important to protect the inside as well.

I'd choose a location that I'd scouted out before where I could put down as many anchors as I could ge my hands on a day before the storm is due to hit. The further up the creek/river from the mouth the better. This distance will help moderate the tidal rise and sometimes, the wind. I'd also have a second location in case someone poaches yours.

Take the time to make sure they're well set, have enough chain to prevent chafe, and chafe protect the line that ties to the boat. Consider bow and stern anchors. If you can take it up a creek, narrow channel, or well away from the docks and near shore, that's an option worth considering. If you only have one side to tie to the land then make sure you put out several anchors to keep you off the roots. In my experience, I prefer a narrow creek where I can tie to roots. trunks, and other items. Being in a narrow creek will also mitigate boats drifitng down on you.

Unless the mooring is yours, or you dive it regularily and know it intimately, I'd consider a mooring as a secondary line of protection. I know my anchors, rode, chain, and how the boat handes rough weather with them. I don't know how good the chain, the kind of mooring weight, or mooring pendant quality is. That said, I did survive a cat 2 by hooking onto an open mooring in the time the eye went overhead. I also was at the wheel the entire time, using the engine to keep the strain off the mooring lines. It was neither fun or intelligent.

Take down anything that will create windage: sails, bimini, dodger, gas cans, tender, wind generator, solar panels; everything. Tape all hatches and ports to help protect the inside from the rain and gunk that'll be whistling by.

Use every cleat, bollard, windlass, winch, or hard point to run lines to the shore. Use lots of chafe - I recommend the used fire hose as opposed to plastic tubing. When tying off the boat remember that the wind may do a 180 and you should be prepared for that. Some folks I know have even tied lines around the mast (keel stepped) because you never know.

Make sure your batteries are topped off, even if it means running the engine while you're preparing the boat. Make sure all important papers go to shore with you. Then take as many pictures of your boat and preparation as possible.

Use lots of chafe. If you've got line left over, then put it out, keeping it in a locker or bag won't help.

Lock everything up. Keep the bilge pumps on and turn off everything else. Head to shore, secure the tender, and find a safe place to ride out the storm.

FWIW: Some folks say that they stay aboard in case things happen. I've been through more than a dozen hurricanes and half of them were cat 4 or higher. The wind will howl making hearing almost impossible, the wind and rain will push you off the deck, the bucking of the boat will threaten to throw you off, and if a boat collides with yours, you won't have the strength to fend it off, cut fouled lines, or protect your home. I was aboard for 4 of them and I think it's more dangerous than productive. If you decide to stay aboard I heartily recommend a mask and snorkle, good foul weather gear, and a PDF/harness.

In the third cat 5, I put everything out as usual but as I got ready to depart I saw a 10# danforth that I use to anchor the tender. I towed that out tied to some 9mm nylon line and made it as secure as possible. The hurricane howled, cat 5+, water spouts in the bay, boats dragged, and we saw 8-10' waves in the bay. The storm passed and it was still too rough to head out byt my sloop, now mastless, sat in the anchorage, bobbing up and down. I sat there all day convinced that the boat had survived the hurricane only to be destroyed by its aftermath. I lost every anchor but that tender one, and that small line, heavily chafed through, protected the boat.

Finally, you mentioned not wanting to: ".... Also, the yards get overloaded and boats can end up on stands along local streets, with no tie down options. So its an option, but not particularly what I want to do as I cannot see hauling her 4 days before every storm that 'may' hit the NC coast." In 1993 I went through 3 cat 5 hurricanes in 3 weeks. One went north, one south, and one through the harbor. It got old very fast, but we did the drill every time. And we learned things, did them faster, and some of us survived. It was tiring, dirty, stressful, and agonizing work.

Or you can make sure your insurance is paid in full, the deductible is what you can live with, and walk away.
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  #93  
Old 08-11-2009
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Originally Posted by CapnRon47 View Post
So far so good for East Coast 2009 season, so I thought this would be a good time to work on a plan. I have lots of questions, so bear with me. I will throw in pictures to make it more interesting, as this may take awhile. I have read through this thread and many others and have a good understanding of the preparation of the boat (remove everything, chafe, etc) my concerns lie with securing the boat for our conditions.

This is my first boat and the first time to deal with Hurricane prep. We bought "HERON" last summer in CT and sailed her down to our home in NC last fall. The boat is a 35' swing keel model 'Clearwater,' built by Holby Marine (Bristol, RI) in 1990. With her keel and rudder up she draws a little under 2'! She is listed at around 12,000 lbs, the swing keel is 3,500 lbs of lead. I posted more about the purchase and the boat here last year. She is currently at our dock on a creek just outside of Oriental, NC.



I am considering 3 options for hurricane prep; haul her, leave her at the dock or anchor/moor in the local creeks. I am looking for comments and suggestions on the 3 approaches as I work through the options and the details. As NCC320 stated above they all have their virtues and risks. Hauling her is straight forward, other than having to do it early as the local yards get busy. And as mentioned all the yards are at the same land elevation so there is no added protection other than being up on jack stands. Also, the yards get overloaded and boats can end up on stands along local streets, with no tie down options. So its an option, but not particularly what I want to do as I cannot see hauling her 4 days before every storm that 'may' hit the NC coast.

Speaking of the NC coast, where we are at is pretty much where Isabel came ashore in 2003. We are 35 miles northeast of Cape Lookout, across 30 miles of low lands and 5 miles of the Neuse river. It is the exposure to the Neuse and wave action that worries me about staying at the dock. Looking at the picture above, it is a new concrete dock, definitely not floating. There are 6 tall pilings on each side of the dock. There are no other boats at our dock and the nearest neighbors dock is several hundred feet in either direction. This set of pilings has the largest separation at 18 feet, the boats max beam is roughly 11'. The nominal depth at the dock (shown here) is 4 1/2 ', so the keel and rudder are in their up configuration pretty much all the time in the creek. Normal dock lines include 2 spring lines each fore and aft, 2 stern lines and 2 bow lines. The lines are wrapped around the pilings and tied off with half hitches. There are 4 cleats on the boat and they can handle 5/8" line, but 3/4" is too big to get 2 lines through the cleat. A cleat is shown here with 1/2" line, I later replaced them all to 5/8". With my 8 nominal dock lines, the cleats are all used up (with the no more than 2 lines per cleat rule), so I am not sure where I would tie off more lines. Would I use the keel stepped mast? the winches? or would I have to add more cleats?



The pilings are probably 6' above the water line, but the surge from Isabel was greater than that, probably more like 10'. The high mounted cleats on the pilings will keep the lines from coming off, but I don't know how I would arrange it so that she would not ride into the pilings at real high water and yet be free to float to whatever height necessary.




This is the exposure to the Neuse River. The dock direction is at 162 degrees, so the exposure is centered at roughly 155 degrees with about 10-15 degrees of exposure. It makes for a great view from the house (thats another whole hurricane issue to deal with) but we get some wave action from big boats in the Inter-coastal as well as from storms. I can imagine, in a hurricane, there would be periods where the boat would be riding some rough waves from that direction. My concerns are staying off the pilings and not being pounded into the sandy bottom if the water is out. We have had wind associated tide this summer where the bay and the river where blown north and I have been sitting on the bottom. I don't have enough knowledge to know if the water always just blows in and then moves out as a hurricane passes. In general that surge (in both directions) is the major concern for this area, but I don't think it is a smooth monotonic process.


So my questions for staying at the dock are. Can I really expect to keep her away from the pilings given the stretch in lines, the freedom of motion needed and the kind of wind and wave that it would be exposed to? I can spider more lines from my other pilings, but where would I tie them off on the boat? I could put out anchors for and aft in addition to the pilings, can I tie off to the windlass? The dock pilings are tied together, the outside pilings are not, is that a major concern? The boat is a sitting duck for floating logs, will the dock and pilings offer enough protection? If the worst that happens is that she floods and sinks, at least I know where to find her and it is not that deep. Of course, the 30 hp Yanmar may not be happy.

thanks for any thoughts or suggestions. I will consider my anchoring/mooring options in a separate post (without so much as a by-your-leave, I guess).

cheers
Depending on where the hurricane went through, the exposure would get you. That boat will be jumping up and down and having huge waves crashing on her bow. I would not weather my boat there. We saw pilings pulled up and I bet your would pull up too. THey are not tall enough for much of a surge. And if you let out enough scope to let the boat ride high, she will probably come down on a piling or the dock and the result would be bad.

I would probably pull the boat if I could. If you had a great hurricane hole that you could spoder everywhere and it was well protected and inland, I would choose that option instead. But you might just find that those fill up quickly. Incidentally, and it has not been spoen about much, but you also have to be concerned about the hurricane emptying out the water and not just flooding it. So know which way she is going and if that is a possibility, be prepared.

I also believe in spidering lines everywhere.

If you were forced to ride out a storm there, I would pull and anchor out as far into the bay as I could and secure her well as a secondary to the pilings.

- CD
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  #94  
Old 08-11-2009
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BTW, CptForce, Oceanscpt, and Gilsurf,

Thank you for the tiem and thoughts here. You have put together some very, very good comments.

- CD
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  #95  
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I notice that the greatest difference between my plan of 8 criteria and the equally wise plans of other captains is that I would not choose multiple anchors or a spidering of lines. It's important to note that I choose the single hook if I have met the first items on my list. If your are inland with little fetch in shallow good holding with elevated surroundings; then, you will not be heaving about and you can afford to swing to face the wind most efficiently. If I were unable to meet my terms, I would elect to be hauled out or build the spider web, but it's important to realize that "spidering" and multiple anchors will cause your vessel to present more resistance to the wind. It's also important to account for Cruisingdad's observation that wind can empty an area of water too. This can be acceptable if you're not pounding on the bottom and it's a forgiving mud. I'd still select a shallow spot if I can be inland without fetch. 'take care and joy, Aythya crew
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By the way, I am just going to comment on OceansCapt -

I am a hard core advocate of GETTING OFF THE BOAT, period. For those that have not ben through a hurricane, it is unbelieveable the force of the wind. TO get a feel, drive home this evening with your hand sticking out the window at 70 mph. You will strain every muscle just to keep your hand straight. Now imagine your entire body. You are NOT standing up and will be lucky to scoot. And remember, that is not even hurricane stregth. Also, wind power goes up exponentially when it doubles. SO 20mph is not not twice as bad as 10mph, it is (I am making this number up) three times as bad. It goes up exponentially, not equally. And to complicate matters, the boat will be rolling and water is literally spraying sideways. You will have a hard time seeing, crap is flying through the air everywhere (horizontally... including trees), and everything is wet, the rain is stinging you, etc.

Now, once that happens, you are NOT getting off that boat. For good or bad, you are there. THe only thing I could really do was raise the lines as the storm surge came in. I guess it might be possible to adjust chafe at some point, but once the strain is hard enopugh you are not going to be really doing any line changes and would not want to go outside to do them if you could. On top of that, you have twisters in the hurricane too which, if they go over you, you are in big trouble.

Anyways, get off the boat. It is not worth your life.

- CD
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  #97  
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CapnRon..

Your boat has a swing keel that you will need to keep retracted. That means that (based on what I've seen on smaller swing keel boats) that with the keel up, your boat is going to have less stability and when the waves come crashing in, she is likely to be bucking up and down, especially rolling side to side, more than a normal keel boat of same size and weight. So the slamming back and forth will be worse with your boat and harder on fittings and gear. On the other hand, with a draft of only 2' with keel up, you have a tremendous advantage in finding a hurricane hole up a creek, as most sailboats won't be able to go as far up as you will. This would give an added advange that if they drag or break loose, they won't be very close to you. If it were my boat, I would scout in advance several creeks to identify these as possibilities, then move my boat early when the storms are coming, so as to get up to your hurricane hole before other boats move up (they may block your access if you wait until they anchor). Then tie the boat with mulitiple lines to the trees on shore, and put out multiple anchors. You'll likely encounter storm surge there in the range of 8-10', so allow for going up. I'd also get some additional anchors (like West Marine Traditonal anchors....Danforth design, but relatively inexpensive) in oversized styles and set these out to supplement your regular anchors. You are going to experience 180 degree wind shift over the course of the storm and you have to be ready to take wind from any direction since you can't know exact path of storm in advance. I recommend the Danforth style as supplementals since they are good in sand/mud and that's the type bottom you have in that area.
As others suggest, spider web the boat with lots of lines to large trees on the shore and to the multiple anchors...tie to all the various hard tie points on the boat...not just to cleats. Then cross connect cleats together in case one pulls out. Use lines to winches (some say no, but I would use the winches), to genny cars on tracks. The keel stepped mast is extreemely strong and I'd put one set of lines there (high enough to clear life lines, otherwise as low as possible). It's not so much the wind that is going to cause a problem, it is the waves driven by the wind, so pick a creek that is winding with not straight access or open fetch to the big water. If the wind blows the water out of the creek, the boat will settle on the bottom with no problem, unless you are unlucky enough to settle on a sunken log. Just my thoughts....I will remain at the pier as I posted earlier since my boat draws 4'11" and I can't get far enough up the local creeks (which get crowded in that depth range). Just my thoughts having been through some storms in NC....good luck.

Last edited by NCC320; 08-11-2009 at 03:46 PM.
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Spider or Bahamian anchor/moor

Thank you all for your replies, comments and suggestions.

You have reconfirmed my feeling that while I am quite comfortable riding out a Nor'easter and such at the dock I don't think it is the best plan for a hurricane.

I am starting to scout out the local creeks and if I feel I am prepared that may be my option. Being prepared means a number of things, for example: I do not have an automatic bilge pump on the boat, yet. But if I don't feel confident in my plan then I will have the boat hauled. My insurance will pay partially for the haul, but only under certain time restrictions.

The local creeks are sand and mud bottomed (nearly all my information comes from talking to locals, as we have only been in the area less than a year). Except for a few developments the area is sparsely populated. Actually there a quite a lot of people and homes, but the amount of waterfront is extensive with all the rivers and creeks. If I go about a mile up our creek, which takes a couple of turns the creek sides look like this.



There is a lot of wetlands and grass which is environmentally protected. I am assuming I don't need the NC environmental organization's (CAMA) permission to anchor, but you do need it to put in a mooring site.

This area is the one I am considering for my protected site, somewhere along that left bank, within reach of the trees.




The creek here is about 150 feet wide but I need to survey the depth and the bottom. I will use my dinghy with a stick, as the most expedient method to find out whats under the water and how deep it is. I have not gone this far up the creek in HERON, but I need to do that to see how much room I have to maneuver.

Turning 180 degrees and looking back toward the river it looks like this:



So wave action here should be quite subdued until the water rises over the land and then there are trees and houses in the way. The locals indicate, as others have pointed out, that the issue here is not so much wind, but water rise and fall. It may take a day or two to blow in, but it can all go out in a few hours.

My concern with spidering to trees/anchors is that the boat will not be free to turn to face the water flow. Also, there are few spots with trees on both sides of the creeks within reach of a reasonable amount of line. So it would be a combination of trees and anchors in any case. I have read several write-ups on the Bahamian anchor/mooring (on Sailnet and elsewhere) that favor this approach under these conditions. Here I would put out 2 over sized anchors (yet to be purchased as I currently have a 33# Danforth with 35 ' of chain, as my main anchor) one upstream and one downstream with as much scope as possible and secure the boat with both rodes in the middle of the anchors. The boat is then free to face whatever direction necessary and has a limited swing area to keep me off the shore. The downside to this approach is that there is not much redundancy in either direction.


From your comments, most people believe spidering (or spider webbing) is the way to go. But what are the concerns of a boat immobilized under dramatic water flow changes? The Bahamian mooring seems like the right approach, given that I would purchase new over sized anchors, chain and rodes for this purpose. Are there any suggestions for improving the redundancy of this approach? I could imagine putting down tandem anchors in each direction or even chaining the anchors to trees on shore and perhaps having double rodes from each anchor that tie off to multiple locations on the boat after coming up through the roller.

thanks again for all your comments.
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Old 08-12-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cruisingdad View Post
By the way, I am just going to comment on OceansCapt -

I am a hard core advocate of GETTING OFF THE BOAT, period. For those that have not ben through a hurricane, it is unbelieveable the force of the wind. TO get a feel, drive home this evening with your hand sticking out the window at 70 mph. You will strain every muscle just to keep your hand straight. Now imagine your entire body. You are NOT standing up and will be lucky to scoot. And remember, that is not even hurricane stregth. Also, wind power goes up exponentially when it doubles. SO 20mph is not not twice as bad as 10mph, it is (I am making this number up) three times as bad. It goes up exponentially, not equally...

- CD
It's more than the square of the speed. I've heard different numbers (on this in the past, so I did some quick research. This came from Wind Strength | Wind Force:
.. the power available in the wind is proportional to the cube of the wind speed. This means if the wind speed doubles, the power available at the wind generator blades increases by the factor of eight. Even small increases in wind speed yield major gains in power.

An increase in wind speed from 10 to 11 MPH results in a 33% increase in the power of the wind.
If anyone has time they could look into this further. I had heard it was to the FOURTH power previously. Either way, it's a substantial increase.

Regards
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Originally Posted by CapnRon47 View Post
...My concern with spidering to trees/anchors is that the boat will not be free to turn to face the water flow...
I would think that the water flow would follow the path of the creek, and you could get reasonable close to guessing that, especially if you account for the water flowing faster on the outside of a turn in the creek.

Since the outflow ("ebb") is the most severe, you could point your boat into the flow of the ebb and then spider web the lines.

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