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Old 09-09-2013, 07:51   #31
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Re: Can Marinas Turn a Boat Away When Seeking Safe Harbor?

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Originally Posted by denverd0n View Post
"Safe harbor" is a concept that applies to governments. Essentially, it describes a willingness to forgo visa and possibly other paperwork requirements for a vessel that is in some immediate need. That can, of course, refer to a vessel trying to escape a storm, but most countries will also grant "safe harbor" for vessels that require repairs or even are just in dire need of provisions.

The term has nothing at all to do with private marinas. What's more, while most countries around the world will grant safe harbor to a vessel in need, there are a few that won't. So you can't just count on it no matter where you go.
This is exactly and fully correct. "Safe Harbor" is a big picture concept.
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Old 09-09-2013, 08:01   #32
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Re: Can Marinas Turn a Boat Away When Seeking Safe Harbor?

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I see the points being made, i have two very good friends that have been Harbor Masters in Clear Lake, Texas. We have had this discussion of what to do with ill prepared vessels, but I never heard of them turning a vessel away that was running from a storm. On the same note, they felt a very strong responsibility for the boats in their marina. My old sea salt of a harbor master friend even told me he has scuttled a derelict boat prior to a big hurricane hitting his marina.

But to turn someone away hours before this massive storm is about to hit, you know you are sending them out to more danger. And I really don't think this was an act of laziness by the boat owner, they were running from the storm, remember Ike was a little unpredictable. The lazy ones are the ones that never show up to prepare their vessel, these folks are aboard fighting for their boat.
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Old 09-09-2013, 08:02   #33
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Re: Can Marinas Turn a Boat Away When Seeking Safe Harbor?

I remember an incident last year when a german school yacht tried to enter Figauroa de foz in Portugal, got told the harbour was closed (bad weather) entered anyway and the skipper plus one of the rescue workers died.

On the island of Bornholm, the harbours on the eastern side of the island close when winds/waves get too high - and they do mean close. They literally close the harbor gates. Didn't make in time? too bad.

Harbours routinely close due to weather. Whilst I have sympathy with the boat in the OP thread - maybe he should have called ahead on the VHF and made sure he could get in?
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Old 09-09-2013, 08:37   #34
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Re: Can Marinas Turn a Boat Away When Seeking Safe Harbor?

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From reading the comments around here, it sounds like a good reason to make sure your anchor system is setup properly and maybe even oversized.
You got that 100% right. If you are in hurricane territory, you need to plan ahead & be prepared.
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Old 09-09-2013, 08:49   #35
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Re: Can Marinas Turn a Boat Away When Seeking Safe Harbor?

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Except that a good lawyer wrote the contract that you signed before you starting making payments. That same contract clearly states, in bold letters, that boats not removed for a named storm will be moved by staff and the marina accepts no liability for any damage blah, blah, blah. You have two choices, accept the terms of the contract or try another marina.

How much would you like to bet? :-)
I guess you never heard that contracts are the work of lawyers, to guarantee continuity of income, while interpreting same. Got a couple of good ones in the family--lawyers, that is,
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Old 09-09-2013, 09:38   #36
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Re: Can Marinas Turn a Boat Away When Seeking Safe Harbor?

As mentioned relative to Portugal, above, there come times when safe entry becomes impossible. We do know of someone who surfed into Coff's Hbr. in New South Wales, with an approaching predicted 55 knot wind, and though it was officially closed, the boat survived. So folks will push the window.

During this same blow, we were holed up in the tiny harbour at Crowdy Head, where at first people were reluctant to spider web because it would have blocked the local trawler access. When one of the fishermen pointed out to the yachties that -- as if we were daft -- no one could leave in these conditions, nor get in (due to seas and reefs), then the cruisers worked together to put out stern lines, and we all lay far more comfortably in the surge. We were protected from the wind, somewhat, only saw sustained 50's.

Yes, as mentioned earlier, refuge can be refused; and boats can be ordered out of marinas for major weather events. It is legal and necessary to do so.
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Old 09-09-2013, 10:46   #37
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I guess you never heard that contracts are the work of lawyers, to guarantee continuity of income, while interpreting same. Got a couple of good ones in the family--lawyers, that is,
I've heard that phrase. I've also heard that "good lawyers" is an example of an oxymoron.
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Old 09-09-2013, 10:55   #38
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Re: Can Marinas Turn a Boat Away When Seeking Safe Harbor?

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Not only is it perfectly legal to turn a boat away, some marinas actually require their resident boats to leave during a hurricane, and they won't even suggest where one should go, that's the owners problem. If the owner doesn't show up to remove the boat, the staff will take it out of the Marina, drop the hook some place and leave the boat on its own.
Yep.... I read the fine print once on one of the marina contracts where I stayed in Florida. It essentially said I had to leave in a hurricane. They pretty much know you are not going to leave, but it's a good way to cover their a&&'s. That way you cant go after them for boat damage and they can go after you when your boat damages something else!
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Old 09-09-2013, 11:25   #39
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Re: Can Marinas Turn a Boat Away When Seeking Safe Harbor?

I this area, offshore is not an option. The hurricanes come up from the south and push everything north. Boats caught out in it will either come in under power or as debris. It is everyone's best interest to have vessels in a slip securely tied. The anchorages are lame and exposed. The few little hurricane holes for vessels to spider up in are used by the shrimping fleet or get so crowded that they loose their "safeness". The boats that went way up in the bayous, which are on the east side of Galveston Bay, were hit by the wall of debris from Galveston, more were lost than saved. The area is so built up, the nooks of old, where you could go in and hide, are now the yards of the rich, which don't want you there.

One thing Ike did for Clear Lake was to get marinas more involved in how vessels planned to deal with the hurricanes. Waterford set requirements for line size, chafe guards, and clear decks. I can't remember what their course of action was if you did not comply...anyone? I think they said they would do it, but it would come at a high price to the owners.

A good designed floating dock, in a well protected harbor, is a decent place for a vessel to ride out a bad storm. Plus it is good to have every slip full,( I know some will call this bs) each boat tied securely who is next to another boat tied securely creates a stiffening effect on the dock. The individual finger piers stiffen up, turning it into one big unit. I know I'm probably not describing it right, and it depends on the design of the dock.

Having said all that, a tornado, which is not uncommon in a hurricane making landfall can render all prep moot, a good reason not to ride one out aboard.

Thanks for all the great replies, it is disheartening to hear they can turn a boat away. I guess where land meets sea, the laws of the land win.
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Old 09-09-2013, 11:51   #40
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Re: Can Marinas Turn a Boat Away When Seeking Safe Harbor?

I don't understand why you would withhold the name of the marina that turned away the boat. Some marinas will allow boats in, some will not. Let's know which ones do and which ones don't. It is totally within their rights to turn away boats, but let's hear about it whenever it happens. That way we won't waste time negotiating with them when a storm is approaching. BTW, I also think is within a marina's rights to charge however much they need to (or want to) in an emergency. They are putting their infrastructure under strain and at greater risk the more boats are tied to the docks during a storm. But for cruisers, I just say, let's share the info as it comes available. Let the free market prevail.
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Old 09-09-2013, 12:14   #41
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Re: Can Marinas Turn a Boat Away When Seeking Safe Harbor?

Nope, sorry, you can PM me if you like to know the name but I don't feel comfortable naming names on the Internet. It could turn into a witch hunt and hurt this business over something that happened years ago. Since then, I have seen them reach out to the boating community, they might be trying to rebuild their reputation.

This thread is about the misconception of expecting safe harbor. I really thought some maritime law in the books would trumped the marina's wishes. But It seems I was very mistaken.
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Old 09-09-2013, 12:37   #42
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Re: Can Marinas Turn a Boat Away When Seeking Safe Harbor?

To be clear about my first post in answer to this question, the fact that the Marina staff would remove the boat and leave it at anchor would be spelled out in the contract. The boat would of course be anchored by the staff with the anchor and rode that the owner provided, so the marina would not be liable if you failed to provide adequate ground tackle to withstand a hurricane. I discussed this with one Marina manager and he noted that his contract only required that the owner remove the boat. He noted that this was primarily put in by his lawyers so they could sue the boat owners for any damage to the marina should an owner fail to remove their boat. He noted that in his experience the marina would withstand most hurricanes just fine if not for the forces generated by the boats. It was this marinas way of reducing their insurance costs, because they were going after the liability insurance of any owners that failed to remove their boats.

Another marina told me flat out that they would have all boats removed 12 hours before hurricane winds were expected. If the owners did not do it his staff would.
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Old 09-09-2013, 12:43   #43
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Re: Can Marinas Turn a Boat Away When Seeking Safe Harbor?

No worries, I understand if you're not comfortable with giving the name publicly. Personally, if it were me, I might give the name, but in a purely informational context, not intending any harmful publicity to the marina. As I say, in my opinion they have a perfect right to set their own policy. I think there are way too many laws and regulations on the books anyway.
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Old 09-09-2013, 18:13   #44
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Re: Can Marinas Turn a Boat Away When Seeking Safe Harbor?

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Pretty sure I never said that anybody was dropping lines and pushing the boat out of the slip to set it adrift. At some point when a person enters into a contract aren't they obligated to follow the terms? If the terms are clearly spelled out, what's the problem with the policy? As I stated earlier, if one doesn't like the terms there is no obligation to enter into the contract. I'm not a lawyer but I've dealt with thousands of contracts. This seems like a really simple concept to me, once the emotion is removed. Stepping backward, the whole purpose is to protect the marina from damage. Do I keep my boat in a marina with those rules? Hell no!
But the second you untie the lines, you may as well have set it adrift as the burden is now on you to show you (or your staff) anchored it in a proper manner.

It doesn't matter what you put in the contract. If you willfully put someone elses property in danger, the courts will throw the contract out and hold you responsible anyway.
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Old 09-09-2013, 21:11   #45
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Re: Can Marinas Turn a Boat Away When Seeking Safe Harbor?

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I this area, offshore is not an option.
If that statement were true, no boat would ever survive a hurricane on your coast. Since they do, I have to doubt your statement.

As a general policy, when someone refuses to name names, I doubt their claim.
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