Hurricane preparation

“Staying aboard is a terrible idea!” says Bob Adriance, the Technical Director at Boat US, which insures some 200,000 boats in the U.S. “There is little — if anything — you can do to protect your boat and it’s extremely dangerous. People have been killed.”Adriance advises that location is the biggest factor in determining how safe your boat will be during a hurricane. “A small seawall
Author:
Updated:
Original:

“Staying aboard is a terrible idea!” says Bob Adriance, the Technical Director at Boat US, which insures some 200,000 boats in the U.S. “There is little — if anything — you can do to protect your boat and it’s extremely dangerous. People have been killed.”

boat_us_hurricane_preparation

Adriance advises that location is the biggest factor in determining how safe your boat will be during a hurricane. “A small seawall won’t do much to protect your boat from the surge and the breaking waves, but if you’re in a well-sheltered harbor, your boat has a much better chance of surviving. The type of dock is also important. Plenty of boats survive hurricanes on fixed docks, but the mortality rate is typically much lower at floating docks with tall pilings.” The latter allows boats to ride and fall with the surge without straining dock lines.

According to Adriance, the safest place to keep a boat in a hurricane is ashore on high ground. A key consideration is the boat’s mast, which presents a lot of windage. Getting your rig unstepped greatly reduces a boat’s windage, but it’s often difficult to do this before a hurricane arrives. “A more practical alternative, used by increasingly more marinas, is to steady boats by strapping them to anchors in the ground,” says Adriance. “Depending on how it’s done, strapping can significantly reduce damage.”

If you’re going to leave your sailboat in the water, Adriance says it’s essential to reduce windage by removing biminis, dodger, and sails, especially headsails, which are almost guaranteed to come unfurled. Also, if you’re in a marina, see if you can relocate to a bigger slip and secure long nylon lines to pilings that are further away.

If you keep your boat on a mooring, Adriance advises that the most important question is “What’s below the water?” He says tests have shown that concrete blocks are the worst mooring anchors as they lose 50 percent of their dry weight when submerged; mushrooms are next worst, followed by Dor Mor anchors (a mushroom variation). Adriance says mooring helixes (which are screwed into the bottom) are almost certain to stay put in a hurricane.

Next, you must consider chafe. On a breezy summer afternoon, a chain’s weight acts as a shock absorber, but in a hurricane the chain will be drum tight and nylon pennants must absorb all of the energy. Chafe, both internal and external, accounts for about half of all mooring failures in hurricanes. Adriance offers three suggestions: “Use only new line, which retains all of its breaking strength. Use polyester chafe protectors, which will wick water and cool heated nylon fibers. Or, as an alternative, use polyester — which is stronger and more chafe resistant — through the chock, spliced to a nylon line — to absorb energy — down to the mooring ball. You need two pennants minimum, but some boats have used as many as five in a storm. Finally, you should also have been inspecting your chain regularly, and replacing it when it begins to show significant wear.”

If your marina or mooring field isn’t protected and hauling the boat out isn’t an option, it’s time to go to a hurricane hole. You should take the time to scope out a good, well-protected spot well before hurricane season. Adriance advises that canals are excellent. “One technique that has had great success is using a combination of anchors and lines to trees ashore,” says Adriance. “The more anchors and lines, the better.”

Lastly, Adriance recommends removing valuables, including the vessel’s documents, closing all but the cockpit drain seacocks, maybe draining your water tanks, and shoving a plug into the engine’s exhaust port. The latter will help prevent water from reaching the cylinders — just don’t forget to uncork it before starting the engine.

For more information, check out www.boatus.com/hurricanes

Related

ntcktshtrstk

Cruising Southern New England Waters

One of the most wonderful childhood vacations I can remember was back in 1971 when my best friend invited me to his family’s summer home on Nantucket Island. For a 10-year-old kid, this was a thrilling trip for many reasons, not the least of which was the fact it was also my ...read more

IMG_8287GR16Mykonos

Cultural Charters: Mykonos

In last month’s column, I covered the amazing mix of cultures that have called the Dalmatian Coast home over the centuries. Croatia cruising is like a smorgasbord of intertwined centuries, and the islands are a movie set. A little farther south, though, you’ve also got Greece, ...read more

cookinglead

Cruising: No Oven? No Worries

Many cruising boats, especially smaller ones, don’t have a conventional oven. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t have all the baked foods you want, from bread to brownies to breakfast rolls to casseroles and even a roast chicken. All it takes is the right bit of gear and a ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell. Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.com Take no chances  This is my stern with the engine running slowly in gear against the lines. We all know that when we’re charging batteries this lets the engine warm up thoroughly. However, I have a ...read more

ZK-Seaboot-900

Gear: Zhik’s Seaboot 900

A Better Sea Boot Following up on its successful ZK Seaboot 800, Zhik’s Seaboot 900 was created in partnership with team AkzoNobel and Dongfeng Race Team, the latter the overall winner of the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race. Designed for serious, long-distance offshore racers and ...read more

01-LEAD-FP-Astrea-42-Gilles-martin-rajet---Navigation

Switching to Solar Offshore

No sensible bluewater sailor would consider setting off on a long cruise these days without some means of generating power other than by burning fossil fuels. The good news is that solar energy is becoming less expensive by the day, making it an obvious answer for providing the ...read more

190812-Tiwal-Video-600x

Video: Tiwal Cup 2019

Who says you need a superyacht to have fun? It would be hard to imagine having a better time on the water than these sailors recently did racing aboard a fleet of Tiwal inflatable sloops. ...read more