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Cruisingdad 08-15-2007 03:07 PM

Hurricane Preparation
Hurricane Preparation

Given the impending storms, I feel it would be appropriate to outline some hurricane preparation suggestions/steps for cruisers and boat owners. For those of you that will be weathering your first storm, it will be an experience. I would strongly suggest not weathering the strom on your boat. For the most part, once it is close, you are stuck on your boat for better or worse. That may not sound really bad until it is howling overhead and you cannot even hardly stand up, much less get off the boat. Take note that it is my STRONG understanding that most people who have ever weathered a hurricane on their boat would NEVER do it again. I am one of them.

Remember that many municipalities shut the bridges down at 35 mph, so be counscious of the timing to get prepared and get off the island or wherever you are at.

Preparations check list for cruisers:

1) Fill up with fuel, including gas for the dink. After the storm, there will likely not be fuel for days or weeks and no electricity either. A generator is very nice to have.

2) Fill up with water. Get extra water!!! Get Ice too. You cannot imagine how precious ice is until you can't get it anymore.

3) Fill up your propane tanks.

4) Get lots of extra bug spray and at least one can of raid. The mesquitoes and no-seeums will be unimaginable afterwards. THere also seems to be an abundance of fire ants floating around in the storm surge, amongst other things.

5) Lots of food. Supermarkets will be closed for a many days/weeks.

6) Get out cash. You will not be able to use your Credit cards as there is no power.

7) Get any meds you need.

8) Extra batteries for a flashlight and even an extra flashlight will be very helpful.

9) A battery operated weather radio.

10) A Handheld VHF.

(Boat prep)

11) Drop everything that can catch the wind. THis includes the jib RF, main, all your canvas, cockpit cushions, and any items on deck. Get them away from the coast if possible. Anything that stays on deck, like the RF, should be lashed VERY tightly. You will be setting on your rail until the eye passes, then the other rail.

12) You are going to have to come up with a plan for the dink. If it gets free, it will be gone. If you can deflate it and put it in the lazarette, go for it. If not, either lash it securely to a tree (against the tree) or securely on deck. The deck may be the better place so you will likely still have it after the storm and it lessenss the chances of strom surge taking it away, but it also creates more windage. That decision is yours.

13) Double or triple lines if you are in a marina. I call it spidering, but I am sure there is some nautical term for it. Basically the more lines, the better. You also, (assuming you are getting a storm surge and not having all the water sucked out), need to put the lines high to account for the surge.

14) Lots and lots of fenders, where appropriate.

15) Chafe protection. Anything that might chew through a line, will chew through a line. If you need something quick, you can try using pieces of hose. You can use old towels. In a pinch, maybe tape... but don't go sparingly on the chafe protection.

16) Assuming you are not planning on riding out the strom on your boat, get off your valuables. This includes ID's, jewelry, documentation, pictures, and anything else you do not want to lose.

17) If riding it out outside of a marina, my suggestion is to find an area where you can spider lots of lines to trees. Mangroves seem to work fairly well for this. You can try really setting in a strom anchor in the direction of expected most wind. You may even consider a "bahamian moor" type arrangement where a secondary anchor take the force when the wind clocks around. It will likely be as bad or worse right after the eye, depending on where you are at.

18) If riding it out in an open bay, all I can say is good luck. Setting the anchors as mentioned before may (MAY) be your best bet. I have not ridden a storm out like this but have seen MANY boats that do. The issue will be the other boats around you that will break lose and either come into you or catch your anchor and drag you with them. A better solution may be finding a canal where you can spider in the docks or trees if the owners there will let you. But in the end, any other boats or large floating debris that can come into you will most likely be your downfall.

19) Anything on the dock will be gone or under water. Clean out your dock box if you have one unless it is items that can be under water for a very long time. ANything else on the dock should be securey lashed away from the dock. THe surge will persist for a while after the storm. You don't want to be tripping through dock debris any more than you have to.

20) Be very cautious of floating docks. Look and see how high they can float before they come off the pilings or are shattered on the pilings. The floating docks were completely destroyed in Gabrielle and anything that was on them or near them was taken with them. Think about that when deciding where to tie up your boat.

21) Consider video taping or taking pics of your items for insurance purposes.

Hurricane preparation starts long before a storm is coming. Everyone will be waiting until the last minute to get stuff, so plan ahead and don't get caught with the crowd... AND GET OUT CASH!! Also, it will take a lot longer to strip the boat than you think. Much of this preparation can be done long before the storm is bearing down on you. About 12 hours before the storm, you may be getting lots of rain bands and squally weather... not a good time to be working on your boat. Make sure you are done before then.

I hope these items help. They are many of the steps we take/took in storm preparation. Again, I strongly urge everyone to get off their boat and to not ride out the storm there. It will be miserable. Feel free to add any comments or anything I missed. I am sure there are items.

All the best. Fair winds and good luck.

- CD

Pamlicotraveler 08-15-2007 03:33 PM

Good job CD...staying aboard is a problem also because of the risk of tornadoes. I would also say lash down the tiller/wheel. Shut off fuel supply and close seacocks (except for scupper drains).

Then go home and read your insurance policy thoroughly for the first time and call your buddy the insurance agent to make sure he got the check you sent him :)

teshannon 08-15-2007 04:42 PM

Great post. Thanks for sharing that.

JohnRPollard 08-15-2007 05:03 PM

All good advice, especially about not remaining aboard.

The only thing I'd add is that, if at all possible, have your boat hauled out. Many insurance policies will now pay some or all of the haul-out costs, since the claim files show that boats on the hard make far fewer and less costly claims. Conversely, boats in slips have the highest claim/damage rate.

Even if you haul, you still have to strip the boat, though. Experienced marinas won't haul a boat out until it has been stripped.

One of the biggest problems diligent owners face is damage caused by absentee owners who fail to prep their boats. Unfortunately there's not much you can do about that (except, maybe, set them adrift? - just kidding) That's another reason hauling looks better and better, especially if it's at a marina that enforces the must-be-stripped-before-hauled rule.

Joel73 08-15-2007 05:32 PM

Hauling vs Mooring
Thanks CD... good advise. This is our first season with the new boat and we're a bit nervous. We are going through the trouble of getting a permit and installing a mooring but it may not happen before a storm heads our way thanks to red tape.

One thing i'm wondering about is hauling Vs. mooring. Assuming it's a big storm, which is the better choice? I would be worried that there would be too much surface area on the hard and that would increase the risk of the boat being topple over. Of course, we do have insurance. Thoughts on this?

Cruisingdad 08-15-2007 05:45 PM

Yes, John, if you can haul it is a good practice. Many insurance policies will also pay to have a captain move the boat, or some portion there of. Boat US does, as I recall.

Joel, regarding that mooring, I can only give you my opinion: You cannot imagine the force on that boat once it starts blowing hard. I would guess most morrings will drag unless it is some kind of 20 foot deep into the ground concrete piling. I would haul. Not to mention, all the other boats dragging around you may sink your boat while still attached to the mooring.

One comment about hauling: Chech and see how far above sea level you are on the hard. Storm surge can and will easily get in the double digits. I saw many people dropping anchors even on the hard. Would it work????? I don't know. Many also strapped down their boats securely to the ground. THe positive of this is it may keep it from being blown off the stands. THe negative is that in the strom surge, you may snap the lines or do more damage. I am not an expert in this area. I have never hauled.

Thank you all for the complements.

- CD

JohnRPollard 08-15-2007 05:48 PM

A reliable mooring would be my second choice, provided it was in protected waters. We have a mooring in protected waters but chose to haul for Isabel. I slept fine that night.

Valiente 08-15-2007 07:09 PM

I am not entirely convinced I wouldn't try to be well at sea. It seems in the greater scheme of things that the land is harder on well-found boats than the sea.

camaraderie 08-15-2007 07:16 PM

Valiente...never would I choose that if I could get to land in time.
In one case you risk your the other you risk your life and the risk is not small.
Ask Gainer....he's been there!!

ccam 08-15-2007 07:25 PM

Thanks CD,
Hope all goes well for your vessel in the next 96.

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