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Old 01-02-2011, 16:27   #1
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Damage Control in a Berth During a Hurricane

Seeing the situation in QLD at the moment, would you, in say an average Marina or Pontoon berth, stay aboard during a Hurricane? And if so, what extra preparations would you make?
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Old 02-02-2011, 08:36   #2
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I would not stay onboard at an average marina or pontoon during a Cat 5 Hurricaine. I would remove all windage that I could from the boat double or Tripple my dock lines, install lots and lots of snubbers and chafe protection and run out my anchors. The Reason is in an average marina you cannot foresee the bits of dockage pileings and junk that will be torn loose, all of which is potential battering rams for your boat, not to mention the boats that will tear away, they will not only hit from the side but if sunk they will rise under your vessel and hole it from the bottom. If I had enought warning I would have found a hurricaine hole up river or left and sailed 90 degrees from the hurricain in the direction of its port quadrant. I have only experienced two hurricaines Ivan and Katrina and I was not on board then, I will tell you the amount of debris from a large hurricaine is shocking to say the least. The last storm I was actually aboard in a marina during a storm (Patriots day 07) was in Portland Maine and it was just a very large Noreaster I doubled my lines and although my boat looked like a dumpster after the storm it still snapped two 3/4 inch lines and snapped a fairlead from its base. Three larger boats next to me were sunk, one came down on the dock cleat and holed his hull, he then went under the dock and came up under the boat next to me and bashed the running gear of that trawler type yacht. Oh ... for those of you that use Progressive insurance when I filed my claim, that is when they told me they do not insure liveaboards and after reviewing my conversation with the sales agent where I told her I lived on my boat they payed my claim and promptly ended my policy.
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Old 02-02-2011, 08:46   #3
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Given ANY alternative, I would never stay aboard during a Cat 3 or higher hurricane, and see no reason to stay aboard at a marina, in any hurricane.
Once the winds exceed 80-85 Kts (92 MPH +), there’s nothing more a strong man can do. These forces far exceed our ability to cope.
Secure your boat, and seek safe shelter.
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Old 02-02-2011, 09:05   #4
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I stay with my boat but NOT at a marina.Little curious about port quadrant?marc
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Old 02-02-2011, 09:07   #5
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During Rita, Camile, and Ike, I moved my boat to an inland canal surrounded by high rises. And tied numerous lines to concrete pilings giving allowance for the projected storm surge, it survived all three with little damage only a couple (out of 16), of snapped lines. Given that 1/10 to 1/3 of boats don't survive a hurricane, (it only takes 1 dock piling going 100 miles an hour to sink a plastic boat). I would NOT recommend staying on the boat.
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Old 02-02-2011, 09:23   #6
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Port quarter of a hurricane/typhoon.
The safe quarter - It's where the speed of the wind around the core has the general wind speed deducted, not added.
For Yasi heading for Queensland it's the NNW side of the storm.
If you sailing soon enough you'll have plenty of wind to get head of the central track of the hurricane but that will depend on your boat speed as the wind gets stronger.
I haven't seen how fast Yasi is moving, and there's a lot of distance to make good to avoid the worst of it. May already be too late.
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Old 02-02-2011, 09:37   #7
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Once the winds exceed 80-85 Kts (92 MPH +), thereís nothing more a strong man can do. These forces far exceed our ability to cope.
Secure your boat, and seek safe shelter.
You got that one spot on...

And the marina bar may have a great view! Just don't sit close to the windows.
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Old 02-02-2011, 10:26   #8
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Our experience at Coconut Grove Sailing Club in Miami is that marinas are OK until you get a CAT II but then the damage increses exponentially. In Wilma, a CAT II with an 8 ft surge, a 110ft steel boat sank at the dock taking out large chunks of reinforced concrete.

Never stay on board...in a binary analysis the two altenatives are living and dying.

Lots of lines that will slip`up with the anticipated surge, lots of fenders with heavy fender boards next to the posts...

Strip the boat, sails, bimini etc...BoatUS statistics show that leaving a roller furling genoa on the stay greatly increses boat damage.

Then evacuate to a concrete bar more than 30 ft above the high water mark with an emergency generator to keep the beer cold.
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Old 02-02-2011, 10:32   #9
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For those of you that read this already, please forgive the redundancy. I was in Hurricane IVAN described below. It was a 4 or 5 longer than any recorded storm, had the lowest B.P., tallest waves recorded,(down island), and was kicking ass with a huge surge when it hit Pensacola. It was downgraded from a 4 to a 3 at the very last minute, (by only 1 MPH), and in our bayou the surge was 13 - 15'. I consider it a 4, and all of my life experiences, as well as a dozen hurricanes, pale by compairison.

Under the right circumstances you CAN save your boat, by loostening the lines on the leeward side of the boat with the rising tide. In my case, my "slip" was not in a typical narrow berth. In that case, It is pretty damned risky, because the entire marina may come apart as in Pensacola. ALL of them did! The fancy floating concrete docks went OVER the top of their huge concrete pilings.

I had private dockage, and the docks = boats about 150 feet apart. I'm not sure I would've tried the below story in a crowded marina. Not in a 4. SURELY NOT IN A 5!!! In a 4 or 5, if there was any creek or river, or mangroves... whatever, I could go up and tie off, or tripple anchor, I'd prefer that to a marina. (99.9 % of the boats in marinas, both floating and fixed, were lost!) In this situation, away from marinas and with protection, if NOT surrounded by other boats, I would stay in a 4. NOT 5!

Again... sorry for the reprint. (cut n paste)

This subject is already in "Anchoring in Mud" which has morphed into my specific hurricane survival tips... Most of you guys know all of this, but for those who do not, I thought I'd post it here as well. Our Searunners' wide bridle, and moderate windage, gives us such an advantage in hurricanes! Hope I'm not repeating my stories here...

Downunder,

I'll see if I can help... Decades ago I rode out some hurricanes on the hook, but out in open areas. (Luckily the storms were Catagory 1s, and my Danforths (opposing each other), held. I did however get dragged down on by the boat in front of me, in the middle of the night!

Since then I have sought out ever increasing levels of protection, as long as the boats around me looked like they had responsible and highly skilled skippers.
Sometimes I spiderweb in a canal. There are a number of these 'VACANT", deep in "ghosts towns", where a development was planned, but never materialized. Unfortunately, the "dufi" might move in after I am already set up!

One of my favorites is to go deep into a maagrove forest, like our Shark River, in the FL, Everglades. There, the river winds for miles in mangroves 40' tall! I would wrap and shackle a 10' chain around the base of about 10 mangrove clusters, at the base. (at or below the water.) I'm talking about around a 6' across cluster of roots. In the shackeling process, I put in the thimbled eye of numerous 150' or more 5/8" min lines. These are to tie in spider web fashion. In this much protection, the wind at my mast head might be 140, but at deck level it might only be 45! This only works if you are NOT surrounded by idiots doing something similar with 4 or 5, 3/8" ski ropes. (It's happened to me, some boats with washing machines and stacks of plywood on deck!)

If the mooring distance is close, like 25' from a fixed point, use three strand nylon for stretch. If the distance is like 75 - 100', you would be better off with lower stretch line like nylon double braid, or three strand polyester. ( I have been in the middle of a canal, and my nylon lines stretched SO much, that I was hitting the opposite wall!)

(Under an almost breaking load, 50' of three strand nylon can stretch to 75'!)

Doubled up polyester "Textile" chafe gear is less likely to melt the lines at contact points, than any of the hose or split tubing varieties. In my one "huge" storm, (on the border between a 3 & 4) many lines turned to a solid plastic! In my last post, #62, that monohull, during the storm, which was up wind of me... had such a strain, that it popped, (not chafed), a 1" double braid line with a 30,000 pound BL!

Other times I have spiderwebbed between docks, where my lines are long and can stretch with the rising surge. (Like in IVAN)

I have also made a three anchor, (LARGE Danforth types), mooring... I have used it either up a very narrow, protected winding creek, or most recently, I set up my friends sister ship Searunner.

During "Ivan", the killer storm, we had gusts over 150 MPH, and a surge around 13' - 15'. We were in a relatively protected bayou, 1/4 mile across, but in the direction that the wind was going to come from, the fetch was about a mile. Up again at posts #62, you see the dotted line on the yellow outbuilding... THAT'S how high the water got! Although sea level and geography made the results not as critical for us, causing far less damage, the wind and approaching surge were worse than Katrina!

On my boat, I spiderwebbed between the dock and huricane pilings, that I specifically had the dock owner put about 30' out from the boat. I used 21 lines, with some being stretchy three strand, that were doubled up with others that were not as stretchy, but 1' longer. This way I had shock absorbtion and a limit to how far it would get to the pilings or the dock. I also had anchors bow and stern.

I went from the house at the top of the hill where I was going to stay, out to the boats to adjust lines, about 9 times, as the wind howled and the water rose. MY lines were almost perfect, but needed one or two loosenings.

As for the evacuated property owner's, monohull, on the UPwind side of the dock... I had "spiderwebbed" it in a similar manner. IT was about to tear up and destroy both of us, however, as his pilings were not as far out as mine. I went out MANY times to loosen the leeward side of his boat. The last couple of times, required that I do the side stroke, (after midnight of course), with a flashlight in one hand but out of the water. (Luckily, the chop was only about 2') That huge oak tree in the above photos, had already fallen, but I didn't know, and the gusts were to 150 MPH!

Going out and adjusting lines kept these boats and the dock there, unlike most on our "hard hit" side of the bayou.

Earlier, a 28' or so monohull had anchored out 200' away and upwind of our dock, With only one small hook. (I knew he was a future missile) Just before the storm, after the irresponsible owner left, I went out with a large Fortress and rode, (mine), but his 6" cleats would never hold. So I took a long section of 1" double braid, folded it in half, and tied a hitch in itself to make a 1' eye. I positioned the eye in front of the bow, with a small line to hold it up, then wrapped the large line's two legs around the sides of the hull and then up to the base of the mast, and tied them securely. I included chafe gear where needed. This eye gave a strong enough attachment point for my large Fortress's rode.

My friend Chuck, with a Searunner sistership to mine, asked what I thought he should do. The options such as mine, were now all taken. So we set up a three anchor mooring in the far, shallow (3'), end of the bayou. (This was my "invention" from 10 years earlier.)

I will cut and paste this account, from the book that I am working on... "My 40 Year Love Affair With Multihulls".

For Chuck’s Searunner 34, I had suggested my homemade hurricane mooring for multihulls. We picked a spot in the very shallow end of the bayou, between two spoil islands, knowing that we couldn’t get his Searunner in or out without a really high tide. It was very protected but tight in there, and we had a sunken barge to avoid as well.
I came up with this system ten years earlier for tidal places with reversing currents, or for when you just want to anchor and leave the boat prior to expected landfall of the storm. In this case you don’t want all these lines wrapped around each other when they’re needed most. The first step is to set up the mooring…
……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… …………… ……………….
The mooring starts with a large galvanized oval/fork swivel… (ĺ”)
Put another 7 or 8” long oval into the fork, so there is a pear shaped oval on each end. This is now about 1’ long. (The larger oval is the bottom one).
This is kept vertical by attaching a 1’ diameter float to the upper “smaller” oval, with a thin 3’ pennant.
The bottom oval has three, 5/8” X 4’ long tails of three strand nylon, with thimbles tightly spliced in. These are connected onto the oval with similar size shackles. Wire them well.
One sets the largest anchor first, by dinghy (opposite the worst threat). Set it really well! Then using a bowline through a bight, tie the rode to the first of several of these 4’ tails. For safety, two half hitches after the bowline is a good idea. I got Chuck to double check every step with me.
Then set the next anchor and tie it to the next tail accordingly. I suggest Fortress 37s minimum… or even 55s! This is way cheaper than insurance, and more reliable.
Now set and attach the third anchor accordingly, in a triangular pattern.
Set it up as tight as possible by hand. It will still drag and stretch to the point that the swivel moves around a bit and lies in the crotch of a “V” when load is applied.
The excess anchor lines that are on the bottom can now be pulled toward their respective anchors about 20’, and put into mesh bags. These bags you then tie to the now tight anchor lines, using the bag’s draw string. This makes the tangle free mooring.
You then pull up to the mooring with your trimaran and pick up the float. Now connect up your 40’ long X 5/8” double braid bridle legs to the upper oval. These bridle legs have thimbles tightly spliced in, and are connected to the oval with large safety wired shackles.
After these bridle legs are run through the ama bow chocks and cleated, as a safety… run an extra leg (or two), from the middle of the upper oval to the bow of the main hull, then through chocks, & cleat them. Use doubled up textile chafe gear at the chocks.
The outer bridle should be the tighter of the bow lines, for directional control.
There you have it… It takes about two hours to set up. (It could be much longer to retrieve). IF you have good holding, good protection, strong gear and do it right, it should hold a Searunner 34, even in a category four!

(THE MOORING SWIVEL IS PICTURED ABOVE ON POST #62)

So, this is how to do the mooring... Meanwhile up at the house I was staying in, I had my largest Fortress 55 ready to swim out to any boat dragging down on me. (IF I could see it... BIG IF!) I have done this before, and yes it can be done. A huge storm is much easier to move around in mostly under water, than walking around, IF the chop is small. To swim out an emergency hook... You have the mostly rope rode carefully figure eighted in a canvas rope bag. (it will be weightless under water) This is attached to a LARGE boat fender with a 2' long X 1/4" line, using a neat BOW knot. You do the same with the Fortress but with a different 1/4" line. Then with good fins, mask & snorkle, and wearing a wetsuit, (not foul weather gear), you side stroke this out to the offending boat, and the fender holds it up. Then you have to decide weather to deploy the anchor first, or attach the rope first, by untying the bow knots. If you can't reach the deck or some attachment point, with the end of the anchor's rode, do a rolling hitch on the lines already on the boat's bow, swim the anchor out, and pull the OTHER bow knot. YES... It has scared the sh.t out of me on occasion, but my wife and I have put in about 50,000 hours of labor building, outfitting, and re-fitting our boat. It is incentive to do CRAZY things!

In the middle of the worst part of the storm, I finally gave up on going out to the boats... The water got so high in the property owner's house, that I thought the hypothermia or drowning inside would do me in, so I set out for the only modern stilt house in the neighborhood. (the few non evacuees were here) The two blocks were traversed in water up to my arm pits. Cars, boats etc were floating down the street, and all of the varmints, bugs, etc in that top 1' of floating mulch, were looking for high ground, MY head!

All of the boats that I prepared and nursed through the storm, were among the undamaged 2%.

In the end, we lost our land stuff, my van, and a $30,000 tool trailer that I make a living with. (all uninsured!) BUT, we still had our boat! After this, we finished the refit we were in the final stages of, and set out for the Chesapeake, Bahamas, and then Eastern Caribbean.

Well that's about it... Maximize shelter and minimize the projectiles around you. Make a mooring if you need to, and ALWAYS use Danforth / Fortress types opposing each other if you can. (In our case, after the eye passed, the wind reversed at well over 100 MPH!)

The old saying about: "There is nothing that you can do in a hurricane", is not necessarily true. It depends on your skills at this, and willingness to risk your life. In my case, I figured I was less likely to die in the storm, than to die in the attempt to built another boat. (This one had taken ten years!)

Good luck!!!

Mark
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Old 02-02-2011, 10:36   #10
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This is how the marinas did...
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Old 02-02-2011, 10:49   #11
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... If I had enought warning I would have found a hurricaine hole up river or left and sailed 90 degrees from the hurricain in the direction of its port quadrant ...
According to Buys Ballot's law:
In the Northern Hemisphere, if a person stands with their back to the wind, the low pressure area will be on their left. This is because wind travels counterclockwise around low pressure zones in the Northern Hemisphere.
It is approximately true in the higher latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere, and is reversed in the Southern Hemisphere, but the angle between the pressure gradient force and wind is not a right angle in low latitudes.

You first need to know where the centre of the storm is relative to your position and the direction in which the entire storm system is moving. You can find the storm centre by facing into the wind. In the Northern Hemisphere, the centre is on your right side, between 90 and 135 degrees from dead ahead. In the Southern Hemisphere, it’s the same distance to your left.

Accordingly, North of the equator, a veering wind (one that’s gradually shifting direction clock-wise) indicates you’re in the path of the dangerous semicircle of the hurricane. In a sailboat, you should sail close-hauled on the starboard tack at right angles to the assumed track of the storm, or (if the centre is close to you) heave to on the starboard tack.

If the wind is gradually backing or changing direction counterclockwise, you are in the path of the “safer” or “navigable” semi-circle, where wind speeds and wave heights are less. Run with the wind on the starboard quarter, keeping a course at right angles to the storm track and away from its centre. If the wind direction remains steady but the barometer falls rapidly, you are in the direct path of the storm. Run off on the starboard tack, keeping the wind on your starboard quarter, to get away from the dangerous centre of the depression and move across to the “safer” semicircle.

Remember that “safe” and “navigable” are purely relative; they carry no guarantees.

A hurricane usually moves fairly slowly along its track, at about 10 to 15 knots, but starts to move faster when it curves northward (Northern Hemisphere).

In the Southern Hemisphere, hurricanes rotate the opposite way, and their dangerous semicircles are on the left of the storm track.
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Old 02-02-2011, 10:50   #12
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Concidering that the entire marina floated away during hurricane Ike I am pretty sure I wouldn't have wanted to be on the boat during. The wind wasn't the problem it was the storm surge, 16ft where our marina was located.

The management could have chained the docks to the pilings or some other kind of anchoring that MIGHT have helped but it seemed their hurricane preparedness plan involved locking the office door on the way out and not much more.

I'm pretty sure there wouldn't have been much I could have done if I had stayed there. I'm sure it's awful hard to get much work done with your butt puckered that tight.

You would probably float better though when you had to abandon ship.........m
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Old 02-02-2011, 11:55   #13
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Well, I have to say thanks guys, for all this fascinating stuff. Excellent and educational. Thought provoking. Action provoking too. I've probably said it before; but what an excellent site this is.

We don't get that many hurricanes on The East Coast of the UK. The worst I can remember was 1987 when Wallasea Island Marina moved from the south bank of The Crouch to the north bank. But weather patterns Worldwide seem to be changing, so who knows. I am feeling it for the members in Queensland at the moment.
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Old 02-02-2011, 20:58   #14
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Gord, Right you are!! I sit corrected.
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Old 02-02-2011, 21:32   #15
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Given ANY alternative, I would never stay aboard during a Cat 3 or higher hurricane, and see no reason to stay aboard at a marina, in any hurricane.
Once the winds exceed 80-85 Kts (92 MPH +), thereís nothing more a strong man can do. These forces far exceed our ability to cope.
Secure your boat, and seek safe shelter.
Gord is right. Our marinas in Qld seem to be OK and have been tested in up to Cat 3 but anything over not for me.

The following I posted on the thread of Cyclone Yasi but is relevant.


"With Yasi there are several reasons carnage was limited and there was no loss of life.
Tracking system over last couple of years have been incredibly accurate and thus given plenty of advance warning
Mandatory evacuations helped immensely.
As did the relative low population density of towns in direct path Mission Beach, Tully, Cardwell.
I feel sure the close proximity of reef 10-12nm from Cairns, Innisfail to Cardwell has minimised storm surge. Such a storm off Mackay with larger tidal variation and the barrier reef 35-40 nm offshore means itís much more likely to get large storm surge with a direct hit.
Australian building construction standards in cyclone areas has been very beneficial.
Cairns did well as a large population centre as it was in the right quadrant of the path of Yasi and again Townsville and its marina far enough south to only receive cat 3 winds. Seems our marinas can handle Cat 3 OK but I would not be in any in a Cat4/5 storm.
Experience I have seen from Caribbean suggests marinas should be avoided and I donít understand why more vessels did not evacuate to the Port Hinchinbrook marina for the huge mangrove areas of the Hinchinbrook channel.
I believe vessels at Cairns marina were sent into the mangroves of Trinity Inlet."
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