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Old 29-08-2015, 12:33   #16
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Re: Erika Preparedness Boat In the Water

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Originally Posted by contrail View Post
This is sure to inflame some members, and for that I apologize, but I do think it is necessary to examine the other side of "staying aboard" during a hurricane. Having done so, and after carefully examining the experience of others who did the same thing in the same storm (eye passage of Hurricane Marty over Puerto Escondido, in Mexico's Sea of Cortez, September 2003), it is clear that one CAN, in fact, do things that help a vessel's survival. But, at what risk?

That's the question and it is highly situational. Where is the boat? What's around it? How do you plan to get ashore if the worst happens? How fit are you? How well can you swim? Who is dependent upon you? How strong is the storm? What time of day will it hit? Is it likely to intensify?

There is no all-encompassing answer, whether it is "stay on board", or "flee with your life".

...
Good news is that we don't have to agree...despite an attitude to the contrary of some here on CF. ;-)

For me, the key factor is the difficult to predict nature of hurricanes and the fact that I'm not willing to risk my life, or even serious injury, for a boat...any boat.

I know those who have ridden out hurricanes aboard and survived. Ive also known people who died doing the same thing. Case in point, Hurricane Keith in Belize. Forecast to be TS, maybe Cat 1, at landfall. So, boats in the TMM fleet in San Pedro were prepared for that with crew aboard. However, Kieth strengthed dramatically just before land fall...result: dead crew members and lost boats.

Personally, the risk/reward analysis just is not strong enough. I will never knowingly/willingly put myself in that situation. So my strategy is to secure the boat as well as possible and get the hell outta Dodge.
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Old 29-08-2015, 12:38   #17
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Re: Erika Preparedness Boat In the Water

I rode out a 'cane in Tampa's Davis Island Seaplane basin a few years ago when there were four or five marching up the left coast that year. With 60kt winds I had the engine ticking, waiting for the sketchy mooring to drag (or more to the point, someone else'). It was fairly boring, but I'm not sure if do it again. Not much I could have done to fend off an oncoming boat, to begin with, and I'm not sure my (then) PIA Volvo three cylinder would have gotten me much leverage had my lines chafed through. Overall, id give it 6 stars of 10, mostly for experience.
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Old 29-08-2015, 13:19   #18
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Re: Erika Preparedness Boat In the Water

Belize, I completely agree that we don't have to agree, and I totally respect your experience. And, it's a well known fact that intensity is the hardest thing for the forecasters to predict. But, I do go back to my criteria, one of the most important of which was being comfortable with how one could make a safe exit, if necessary. In Marty, I was and am totally convinced that getting ashore would have been a no-brainer, so I stayed. In Omar, I didn't want to have to get off a heaving boat onto a dock, so I didn't stay aboard. In Erika, same dock, the overwhelming evidence was that she couldn't strengthen, based upon the windshear and dry stable air, so I stayed aboard. In Marty, my boat wasn't insured, although she had been insured for another direct hit with Juliette, in 2001. Jet Stream is and has always been insured and that includes Omar, Erika, and also Dean, where I sailed away from Guadeloupe to St. Maarten, and rode him out there as a TS. Going ashore there would have been an easy deal, too.

So, I listed some pretty firm criteria by which I decide. It sounds like the TMM fleet's crews maybe didn't have very good options to go ashore, so despite their prep, which knowing TMM here quite well I am sure was excellent, they had no viable plan B when the storm became a Cat 1. Neither did most of those in Bahia Honda, Culebra, for Hugo. I definitely agree that one needs to err on the side of caution. I was just pointing out that this doesn't always mean getting off the boat. It all depends, and IIRC, almost everyone who rode out Marty, as I did, agreed that, while they hope never to be in that situation again, on balance they would consider staying aboard in the same circumstances. But, I wouldn't have argued with anyone who differed on that.
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Old 29-08-2015, 18:36   #19
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Re: Erika Preparedness Boat In the Water

To Contrail:

Thanks for posting your detailed account of your experiences, both staying aboard and not. I enjoyed reading it.

You mentioned that your group that stayed aboard during Marty would have lost more boats if they had not stayed aboard to intervene somehow. Please elaborate on that point, perhaps with some recollection of the different things that surprised the group members etc?

I imagine it involved adjusting lines for chafe or things like that, but wonder what else the members may have been surprised by or impressions you might remember from that.
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Old 29-08-2015, 21:07   #20
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Re: Erika Preparedness Boat In the Water

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steady Hand View Post
To Contrail:

Thanks for posting your detailed account of your experiences, both staying aboard and not. I enjoyed reading it.

You mentioned that your group that stayed aboard during Marty would have lost more boats if they had not stayed aboard to intervene somehow. Please elaborate on that point, perhaps with some recollection of the different things that surprised the group members etc?

I imagine it involved adjusting lines for chafe or things like that, but wonder what else the members may have been surprised by or impressions you might remember from that.
They weren't exactly surprises; crises would have been a better description. On the whole, we were a pretty well prepared lot for a couple of reasons. Puerto Escondido is a well known Sea of Cortez hurricane hole, something like the caldera of an old volcano, perhaps a mile or so long, by maybe three quarters of a mile wide, with various little coves and indents. There are hills around and just one fairly narrow and shallow entrance, so one is pretty well protected from waves and surge. But, people who summer in the Sea and who are based around PE are there for hurricane protection so that is always on one's mind. Additionally, Hurricane Ignacio, a cat 4 storm, had threatened a few weeks before. It mostly blew out in the mountains and got to us as a tropical storm, but we had all prepared for the worst and discussed our prep with one another in great detail after the fact. Most of us picked up ideas from one another and modified our procedures as a result. I, for example, learned about putting a kellet, or weight, on one's anchor rode and used this to good effect when Marty rolled through. Anyway, we had all had one easy storm to practice on, and then lots of discussion subsequently, so when Marty came there weren't too many surprises.

But crises, yes indeed. Here are just two: in once case, the couple had deployed their beloved CQR anchor in the normally good holding in typical PE depths of 40-odd feet. They were at the windward end of the anchorage, but for some reason, despite using their engine, they dragged all the way to the leeward end and almost went up on a breakwater when the eye saved them. They then upped their anchor and re-set it in what would now be the windward end of the anchorage, ready for the second half. But the same thing happened again, and they dragged the whole mile and almost went on the rocks at the other end when the storm finally abated. They came very close to loosing their boat and I think they would have, had they not been aboard and using their engine. It was a very unnerving experience for a tried and true cruising couple. I don't remember if they quit cruising as a result or continued on, but they were definitely shell shocked.

The second example involved a very much liked but reclusive older guy, who cruised on something pretty small, let's say 27 feet. Not many of us knew him well, but we all knew his saxophone, on which he would play something beautiful, every sunset, and which could be heard throughout much of the anchorage. He didn't have much, probably just his boat and his sax. Unlike the rest of us, he anchored mostly on line, with some chain at the end. He had one anchor down, and another in the water at the ready, but hanging off his stern, for some reason or other. By far the worst time of a hurricane is during the passage of the eyewall, which is where the winds are the strongest. In the case of Marty, the rain was also blinding. For example, some good friends in a Tayana 42 were anchored maybe 100 feet abeam of my boat. When the eyewall came through, they were totally invisible, and the waves reached about five feet high, even though they were completely generated inside the anchorage. It was pretty rough. Well, our friend with the sax went up to check his rode and found it had jumped out of his roller and was sawing itself through on his toerail. Of course, he could not pull it in, and to let more out would just keep the damaged part in play. He went back to start his engine to take some of the strain off his anchor rode, so that he could try to pull it in a little, and fouled his prop with the rode from his spare anchor hanging over the stern! So, now he had no engine, no backup anchor and a well sawed main anchor rode. But, he had not given up; by great effort, and using the pitching motion generated by the waves, he was able to flip the rode over the side of his roller assembly, and back onto the roller. Then, he took his largest vice-grip and tightened it on the rode, just outside the worn spot, and jammed it between the roller and retaining bar! It held until the eye arrived, at which point he removed the vice-grip, pulled the rode in until he got to a good spot, put some chaffing gear on, and then lept into the water to clear his prop, which he did in short order. So, he sorted both anchors and also his prop and did fine for the second half. That evening his saxophone sounded particularly memorable. But his boat would surely have been lost had he not been aboard.

All told, seven boats had similar tales in which someone did something very pro-active, in most cases during the lull during the passage of the eye, and all the boats made it through. No occupied boat was lost that day. We were very lucky, but many had made their own luck, to a greater or lesser extent.

The "We survived Hurricane Marty" party held a day or so later featured some very interesting and ingenious war stories, indeed.

By the way, if Tacoma Sailor is who I suspect he is, he, too survived Marty in an incredible series of events, at another location in the northern Sea of Cortez. His story became the backbone of ads for Caliber yachts like his, for months if not years to follow.

Cheers,
Tim
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Old 29-08-2015, 21:36   #21
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Re: Erika Preparedness Boat In the Water

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steady Hand View Post
To Contrail:

Thanks for posting your detailed account of your experiences, both staying aboard and not. I enjoyed reading it.

You mentioned that your group that stayed aboard during Marty would have lost more boats if they had not stayed aboard to intervene somehow. Please elaborate on that point, perhaps with some recollection of the different things that surprised the group members etc?

I imagine it involved adjusting lines for chafe or things like that, but wonder what else the members may have been surprised by or impressions you might remember from that.
Steady Hand, you asked about surprises. There were a few things that surprised me, personally. 1) The noise. Absolutely deafening, like standing on the runway next to a jet. I always thought the sound of a jet was generated by the combustion, like an explosion. But it must be from the speed of the exhaust, just like the speed of hurricane force winds. 2) I was shocked at how quickly the wind speed shoots up when the eyewall hits after the passage of the eye. In the "first half", the wind builds steadily as the eye gets nearer. Then there is the calm of the eye. But when the eyewall hits the second time - and we could see it coming - it goes from zero to max almost instantly, with chaotic effect onboard. 3) trying to maneuver using engine power in a fin keel boat is next to impossible, or at least it was for me. I could have gotten out of the way of a boat dragging down on me, and almost had to. But to hold steady with the bow into the wind and only the flow of the propwash over the rudder? Not a chance. Yet I have read of others doing it without problem. I suspect that other keel configurations must make the difference and that a classic full keel cruising boat may find this doable. But, if you have a modern hull and keel shape, don't count on it! 4) Per Steve Dashew's instructions, I used a very light snubbing line on my anchor chain, the idea being that it should have lots of stretch. It certainly did. At the end of the storm it was more than twice its original length and incredibly thin! But it had held and not broken. The Tayana 42 next to me was very proud of their sturdy thick snubber lines. However, theirs snapped six times during the storm. How they managed to replace their snubber six times I do not know, but the guy was a former powerline repairman and something of an acrobat. Their problems and my lack of same certainly validated Dashew's recommendation. To this day, I am constantly amazed at the thickness of many snubber lines I see in anchorages. The idea is to have something that stretches, even if it can never be used again after a serious storm.

Cheers,
Tim
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Old 30-08-2015, 16:25   #22
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Re: Erika Preparedness Boat In the Water

Quote:
Originally Posted by contrail View Post
Belize, I completely agree that we don't have to agree, and I totally respect your experience. And, it's a well known fact that intensity is the hardest thing for the forecasters to predict. But, I do go back to my criteria, one of the most important of which was being comfortable with how one could make a safe exit, if necessary. In Marty, I was and am totally convinced that getting ashore would have been a no-brainer, so I stayed. In Omar, I didn't want to have to get off a heaving boat onto a dock, so I didn't stay aboard. In Erika, same dock, the overwhelming evidence was that she couldn't strengthen, based upon the windshear and dry stable air, so I stayed aboard. In Marty, my boat wasn't insured, although she had been insured for another direct hit with Juliette, in 2001. Jet Stream is and has always been insured and that includes Omar, Erika, and also Dean, where I sailed away from Guadeloupe to St. Maarten, and rode him out there as a TS. Going ashore there would have been an easy deal, too.

So, I listed some pretty firm criteria by which I decide. It sounds like the TMM fleet's crews maybe didn't have very good options to go ashore, so despite their prep, which knowing TMM here quite well I am sure was excellent, they had no viable plan B when the storm became a Cat 1. Neither did most of those in Bahia Honda, Culebra, for Hugo. I definitely agree that one needs to err on the side of caution. I was just pointing out that this doesn't always mean getting off the boat. It all depends, and IIRC, almost everyone who rode out Marty, as I did, agreed that, while they hope never to be in that situation again, on balance they would consider staying aboard in the same circumstances. But, I wouldn't have argued with anyone who differed on that.
There are of course always mitigating factors and ultimately you have to make what you think is the best decision under the circumstances and go with it...hopefully it works out as expected. This is why I try avoid second guessing the actions of others...I wasn't there.

TMM crew was screwed, wind shifted offshore and strengthed...literally cartwheeled one cat over the reef. After that traumatic event, Paul Steele (TMM country manager, now deceased), implemented a no discussion policy -- run to the Rio Dulce early.

If you want to read a really painful account of unsuccesfully second guessing a hurricane try the story of "Phantom" which was lost in Mitch. Its like watching a bad horror movie...you want to scream: "NO! Don't do that!". All hands lost. Ship never found.
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Old 30-08-2015, 17:20   #23
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Re: Erika Preparedness Boat In the Water

Pic from hurricane preparations in Corpus Christi TX many years ago. I especially like this strategy...plant the boats in a trench ashore.
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Old 30-08-2015, 17:36   #24
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Re: Erika Preparedness Boat In the Water

Storm surge is an issue as well floats and other boats breaking free and destroying yours even if yours is well secured. I did Sandy on a mooring... I was not onboard... but several boats in the harbor ended up on the beach from chafe. Shiva dragged her mooring 700' in a pretty empty harbor... lost one of her two lines... but survived with no damage.
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Old 30-08-2015, 18:39   #25
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Re: Erika Preparedness Boat In the Water

Contrail,

Thanks for the answers to my questions and the good anecdotes.
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