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Old 07-06-2011, 20:31   #1
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Okay it's Hurricane Season Again!

This is a thread to discuss Hurricane season and the tactics to use if you are on the leeward side of an Island or in one when it comes.

Other then GET OUT OF THE WAY! What else can be done to survive a Hurricane in the islands or at sea.

Any info is appreciated and please give constructive thoughts and time tested procedures. I would like to know and It might save someones life in this situation.

I'm thinking if I'm on the leeward side of the USVI's I need more anchor.
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Old 07-06-2011, 20:44   #2
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Re: Okay it's Hurricane season Again!

Is there such a thing as the leeward side of an island during a hurricane?
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Old 07-06-2011, 21:16   #3
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Re: Okay it's Hurricane season Again!

Sail towards the equator like a bat out of hell. Don't stop until you get there.

Not sure if I'm qualified to give this advice as we got caught in two hurricanes already

ciao!
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Old 07-06-2011, 21:19   #4
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Re: Okay it's Hurricane season Again!

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Originally Posted by s/v Jedi View Post
Sail towards the equator like a bat out of hell. Don't stop until you get there.

Not sure if I'm qualified to give this advice as we got caught in two hurricanes already

ciao!
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I agree. Sail for the doldrums ASAP. When we went across the Atlantic, my exit strategy was to turn south toward the equator motorsailing if necessary to get into the doldrums and out of the hurricane zone. I carried enough fuel to motor more than a thousand miles if necessary.
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Old 08-06-2011, 01:12   #5
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Re: Okay it's Hurricane season Again!

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Originally Posted by w1651 View Post
. . . Any info is appreciated and please give constructive thoughts and time tested procedures. I would like to know and It might save someones life in this situation.. . . .
The "time tested procedures" are simply two - don't stay in a hurricane zone unless you can afford to loose your boat; and secondly, don't stay on the boat during a hurricane if you cannot leave the area.
- - For a direct hit by a hurricane everything is a balance between choosing the best protected "hole" which has lots of ancient mangrove and prepping your boat by removing everything -everything - from the decks and rigging many, many lines and anchors to hold the boat in the "hole." Biggest problem, I suspect, is not allowing for the extreme rise in tide (hurricane surge) and not rigging chafe protection on your restraining lines/rodes.
- - Beyond that it is all luck - you have no control over the other 100 boats that are going to cram themselves in and around you. And most of them will have inadequate lines and rodes deployed resulting in your getting "run down."
- - All of that adds up to make haul-out and keel in a hole storage very attractive and cost effective. But as with anything, planning ahead is the secret to success. The "hurricane" yards in and around the Virgins/Puerto Rico generally "sell out" of space early in the calendar year.
- - Being out at sea in a hurricane season is akin to playing on the railroad tracks of a train depot without benefit of a train schedule. You just do not do it unless you have a serious death wish.
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Old 08-06-2011, 01:49   #6
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Re: Okay it's Hurricane season Again!

Hmmm...

I was planning to sail from Miami to Houston in August this year assuming that is that there are no hurricanes or tropical storms forecast (weather willing trip). Am I silly to think this is feasible? I've not sailed the Gulf of Mexico, sailing so far limited to Biscay/English Channel/North Sea.
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Old 08-06-2011, 05:24   #7
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Re: Okay it's Hurricane season Again!

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Originally Posted by osirissail View Post
The "time tested procedures" are simply two - don't stay in a hurricane zone unless you can afford to loose your boat; and secondly, don't stay on the boat during a hurricane if you cannot leave the area ...
Indeed.
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Old 08-06-2011, 05:54   #8
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pirate Re: Okay it's Hurricane season Again!

I've been surprised to read in CF of several skippers who did stay with their boats. Guess we don't read about the ones that didn't get away with it.
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Old 08-06-2011, 06:01   #9
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Re: Okay it's Hurricane season Again!

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Originally Posted by pillum View Post
Hmmm...
I was planning to sail from Miami to Houston in August this year assuming that is that there are no hurricanes or tropical storms forecast (weather willing trip). Am I silly to think this is feasible? I've not sailed the Gulf of Mexico, sailing so far limited to Biscay/English Channel/North Sea.
It is all in the luck of the draw - In August of 2010 there were no storms along that route; In 2009 there was one - TS Claudette; In 2008 and 2007 nothing. 2011 - ??????????????

It might be good for you to view the CF thread about the Gulf of Mexico: Cruisers & Sailing Forums > Scuttlebutt > Destinations Gulf of Mexico
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Old 08-06-2011, 06:12   #10
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Re: Okay it's Hurricane season Again!

Thanks Osirisail, I'll be in the US anyway, so weather willing I'll be able to do it, but if not no probs. Apologies for hijacking the thread.
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Old 08-06-2011, 06:34   #11
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Re: Okay it's Hurricane season Again!

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I've been surprised to read in CF of several skippers who did stay with their boats. Guess we don't read about the ones that didn't get away with it.
One of the big misconceptions is that the zone of severely damaging winds is as wide as the satellite photos of the hurricane. It is more like the hurricane is a freight train roaring down its railroad tracks - a rather narrow path about +/- 50 nm, give or take. Standing in its direct way is definitely not healthy. But standing off to one side or the other you may get buffeted or blown but rarely seriously damaged.
- - Problem is that the "tracks" that hurricanes follow are constantly shifting position and staying clear is mostly a case of luck of the draw.
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Old 08-06-2011, 06:45   #12
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Re: Okay it's Hurricane season Again!

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Originally Posted by tgzzzz View Post
I've been surprised to read in CF of several skippers who did stay with their boats.
I had no option.

And to suggest I was scared to death. I was. There was a Catagory 5 Cyclone heading straight towards us. We were at anchor. All I was thinking about was if we dragged how I could run the boat ashore to get Nicolle out. I knew I would lose the boat. I knew our survival chances were limited on shore in the open with flying tree branches. I did think that the bay was protected enough so if I ran the boat ashore there wouldn't be big enough waves to destroy the hull therefore giving us a a refuge from flying trees and branches.

This year, I am in Grenada, on the southern edge of the belt and 70nms from Trinidad.
I have fully tanks and 6 Gerrys of Diesel.
The Internet is on and I have 2 connections paid for so I will be definitly on the net.
Then if a Hurricane pops up near here, I am south like a flash

With alternative 'holes' here.


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Old 08-06-2011, 07:15   #13
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Re: Okay it's Hurricane season Again!

Over the last 40 years, I've ridden out numerous hurricanes, (> 12), but thankfully, not at sea! The "truism" about "never staying on the boat in a hurricane" is one that I don't necessarily agree with. It all depends. I have used both options, and in some cases I was safer staying on the boat.

In the case where I was staying in a house 300' away, and going down to the boat NUMEROUS times (even swimming), as the 13-15' surge came in, I would DEFINITELY have been safer on the boat, (in winds of 130, gusting to 150). As the house filled up, I had to go two blocks to high ground in the height of the storm, with water up to my arm pits! With 21 lines on my boat, it was one of the few that made it undamaged!

Partly, the decision is based on how protected is the spot I've found, and takes into account how much I risked my life to build the boat in the first place. (and would do so again)... Can I do any good? In the case of letting mooring lines out, so that my boat can rise with the tide/surge, there certainly IS something I can do. You can't take them IN, but you can let them OUT before they pop their lines or pull the dock, or whatever, apart.

I have also swam extra anchors out in a storm, by holding it (Fortress 55), and the chain in a bag, just under the surface, (floated there by a large boat fender). With mask/snorkel and fins, I do the side stroke to my chosen spot, untie the bow knot holding the anchor under the fender/float, then the chain... and swim the bitter end of the rode back to the boat, to be set and tensioned with a winch.

I have also made a really stout "portable" three anchor mooring on occasion, in the most protected spot I could find, then pull in and "hook up" with doubled up bridles. With 3 or 4 HUGE anchors and chafe gear, it has held when the others failed!

I have never had MY boat be the problem. It is always the OTHER guys boat that breaks free in the storm, putting my situation at risk. If the drama is happening slowly enough, this is where floating an extra anchor out is of use!

The above advice of "going south" to avoid the situation, is good. It is my first choice!

There may be reasons that this isn't feasible, or it may leave you riding it out at sea... YIKES!!! The worst position to be in, is just anchored in the lee of an island. It will be crowded with Yahoos, and in a direct hit, will become the windward side! IF this is your ONLY option, it's is no situation for staying on the boat, IF you have high ground and good shelter ashore.

I have found great "hidey holes" by going up a river, OR deep into a mangrove forest 60' high. I would have numerous 6' sections of chain and shackle them around root clusters.
I would then "spider web" in there attached to the mangrove bases. Spots like this are numerous in places like S Fl, both sides of the Caribbean, and even a few in the Bahamas.

Otherwise, there are a few canal "ghost towns" down island where a development was started 50 years ago, abandoned, and if you can chop your way in, THERE'S YOUR HIDEY HOLE!

These places are "all over" in the areas I've mentioned, Central America, up rivers, and the Chesapeake. The thing is that they usually require local knowledge and a VERY early "staking of your spot". Like a week! At this point, the likelihood of your needing to go in there in the first place, is still an unknown. IF you do go it, and ride it out successfully, it may be weeks before you get out. The guy who came in after you, is now blocking your egress, and he may have flown home! Ya gotta get in there early, and be patient. I've never had insurance, so it makes me willing, AND patient!

95% of the boats anchored around you in a larger harbor, bay, or cove, will drag. Given good holding, I know I can keep my boat where it is, (up to a low cat. 4), but VERY few cruisers have the equipment or skills to do this. For this reason, I always opt for this, only because a really tight "hidey hole" is nowhere to be found.

While island hopping during hurricane season, I am constantly searching the charts and doing dinghy reconnoiters, looking for these spots. They're not exactly numerous, but they are in a LOT of places if you look.

Happy H season!

Mark

In his storm below, all 4 of the boats I prepared and/or fought through the storm, made it. It requires having the right equipment, skills, and being willing to really "go for it".
Nothing succeeds like excess...
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Old 08-06-2011, 07:54   #14
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Re: Okay it's Hurricane season Again!

I might add... On a monohull of the same length, I would not be as likely to use the three anchor portable mooring. The way monohulls saw around at anchor, momentarily exposes their tackle to three or four times the "straight on" load. It also constantly "works" the anchors around.

Our laying to a 21' wide X 35' long bridle, keeps us straight on to the wind, with no sawing around. Combined with being a low windage design, it is easier to keep it where I put it.

On monohulls, the "anchoring out option" would be my last resort, VS spider webbing in a hidey hole.

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Old 08-06-2011, 11:04   #15
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Re: Okay it's Hurricane season Again!

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Originally Posted by callmecrazy View Post
Is there such a thing as the leeward side of an island during a hurricane?
True but I meant at the beginning of the storm. I realize the backside of the storm will get me after the eye passes. But maybe it will move away instead of closer or at least diminish a bit over the island.
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