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Old 08-05-2008, 09:43   #1
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Hurricanes

What's the tactic when you're in Florida (any place for that matter) and a hurricane comes? Can you realistically avoid it picking up anchor and sailing? Seems that would require some lucky guesses... Do people avoid places like FL during hurricane season? As someone who grew up in FL I would not hesitate to have my boat here during the season, but I don't yet know what I'd do if one was coming our way.
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Old 08-05-2008, 10:25   #2
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There's a big debate amongst cruisers in the Caribbean as to whether running from a hurricane is prudent. Forecasting storm tracks has become much better in recent years, but even NOAA will tell you that it's very difficult to predict where a hurricane will be beyond 24 hours.

If you secure your boat and leave it, you risk your boat. If you try to outsail a hurricane, you risk your boat and your life. My preference has always been to secure the boat ashore in a cradle or with tie-down straps connected to concrete yard anchors.

Here are links to some articles on the topic, all from The Caribbean Compass monthly newspaper:

Don Street on Hurricane Preparations
HURRICANE PREPARATIONS

Brad Glidden's three part series
Hurricane Survival

Hurricane Survival

Hurricane Survival
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Old 08-05-2008, 12:14   #3
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I live in Florida and while it may be nice to haul the boat for a hurricane there is not sufficient capacity where I live. Depending upon where you are and the size or your boat there are a few choices. It may be possible to tie up in the mangroves. They will offer some protection from the wind and with sufficient scope, allow the boat to handle the storm surge. I know people who live in Fort Meyers and they tied their boat up in the center of the canal behind their house. Their home was damaged but not their 37 foot Tartan.

All in all, IMO the most dangerous part of the storm is the surge. If you can find a spot that gives really good scope to your lines, use heavy, chafe protected lines, and can avoid having someone else's unprepared boat landing on yours, you should do fine.

I figure the boat is insured and can be replaced. I'm insured but can't be replaced. I let the boat fend for itself and worry about my family and home.
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Old 08-05-2008, 12:20   #4
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I live in Florida and while it may be nice to haul the boat for a hurricane there is not sufficient capacity where I live. Depending upon where you are and the size or your boat there are a few choices. It may be possible to tie up in the mangroves. They will offer some protection from the wind and with sufficient scope, allow the boat to handle the storm surge. I know people who live in Fort Meyers and they tied their boat up in the center of the canal behind their house. Their home was damaged but not their 37 foot Tartan.

All in all, IMO the most dangerous part of the storm is the surge. If you can find a spot that gives really good scope to your lines, use heavy, chafe protected lines, and can avoid having someone else's unprepared boat landing on yours, you should do fine.

I figure the boat is insured and can be replaced. I'm insured but can't be replaced. I let the boat fend for itself and worry about my family and home.
That is something I was just thinking about actually: The fact that I'd probably have a hard time finding a place that could haul and store my boat. There are soooo many people here with a lot more money than me...I just don't think it would be an option. With that said there are quite a few mangrove areas... At this point I think that would be the best option. Guess people who live in boats have to roll the dice the same way those who live in houses do...
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Old 08-05-2008, 13:45   #5
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Macopa,

I live just north of you in Tarpon Springs. My choices there are really limited. If you decide that you like the idea of a mangrove hidey hole I strongly suggest that you do some research on what to look for. Then spend the time to actually find THE spot and figure out just how you are going to tie up, how many lines, how big, chaffe gear and how you are going to get there to leave the boat and get back.

When the time comes the weather will probably already be deteriorating, there may be mandatory evacuations, etc.

On the bright side, the chances of avoiding a hurricane in Tarpon are excellent and only somewhat less so in St. Pete. The insurance company used to give me a discount because of where I'm tied. On the other hand, if Tampa/St. Pete take a direct hit, we'll both have a lot more to worry about than our boats. Most of St. Pete will be underwater.

As you say, roll the dice.
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Old 08-05-2008, 13:51   #6
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I do feel good about the protection of the bay and it is probably a good idea to check the spot first. I agree though...we're probably well off protection-wise is a skirting storm, but a direct hit? FORGET ABOUT IT [insert: strong brooklyn accent].

As a surfer I love the swell from those summertime monsters but I pray my intuition is wrong about the severity of this season. The ocean has been sooooo warm this winter.
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Old 08-05-2008, 14:28   #7
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There's a lot about hurricane prepareness on the Boat US web site. They've done a lot of research after the 2004 Florida storms. In short, you guys are right in that in a direct hit you will suffer at the least some boat damage, and possibly the loss of your boat. There are some hurricane photos of what has happened around here during a storm on my web site. Click the link in my signature.

It's best to haul out and tie down. If that's not possible find a canal where you can tie to both sides or if you have a catamaran find some mangroves and stuff your bow into them. I disagree with one item mentioned in that the number one boat killer around here is fetch. Get your boat as close to a predicted windward shore as possible. With a long fetch the boat bounces up and down way too much on wind driven waves and this is what heats up and chafes through lines. Yes scope is also important, as is proper chafe gear, and some now say to anchor using double braided dacron (as opposed to 3 strand nylon) lines as they don't lose strength when they get wet.

Several of the guys here (me included) use a 3 anchor (120 degree) set with 3/4" line. Works real well in a sand bottom with Fortress anchors. The only thing it doesn't protect against is the impoperly prepared boat to windward that breaks loose and slams into you.

For what it's worth.. I tried outrunning Hurricane Katrina. Although you can reduce the impact, out running a hurricane in a sailboat just isn't possible .
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Old 08-05-2008, 14:40   #8
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Wow. What a shame to loose your boat becuase someone else's breaks loose. I will look into Boat US and do all the reading I can. At this point it's all about information gathering...well, that and keeping my fingers crossed.

rickm505 I must ask, what happened with the whole outrunning Katrina?
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Old 08-05-2008, 14:41   #9
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...For what it's worth.. I tried outrunning Hurricane Katrina. Although you can reduce the impact, out running a hurricane in a sailboat just isn't possible .
Me too ((what Macopa asked)
I don't recall that you shared that "adventure", here on CF.
Where, if anywhere, can I read that story?
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Old 08-05-2008, 15:48   #10
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I don't mention it because it's not such a big deal compared with what a lot of folks have been through. The story has always been on my website. Click on the link in my signature and scroll about 1/2 way down that first page.
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Old 08-05-2008, 20:26   #11
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I would never haul my boat out and tie it down for a hurricane. That would make it more exposed to the wind. I would also never stay out in an anchorage or mooring field, or stay in a slip.
If you get up in a mangrove creek it takes away the wave action, and most of the danger of the other boats around you.Also less flying debris.
It only takes 2-3 hours to get spider webbed in and is definitely worth the effort if there's a real chance you'll get hit.
During Wilma I came out of Whiskey Creek twice thinking it was all over and still couldn't get across the harbor in my dinghy.
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Old 08-05-2008, 20:32   #12
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I would never haul my boat out and tie it down for a hurricane. That would make it more exposed to the wind. I would also never stay out in an anchorage or mooring field, or stay in a slip.
If you get up in a mangrove creek it takes away the wave action, and most of the danger of the other boats around you.Also less flying debris.
It only takes 2-3 hours to get spider webbed in and is definitely worth the effort if there's a real chance you'll get hit.
During Wilma I came out of Whiskey Creek twice thinking it was all over and still couldn't get across the harbor in my dinghy.

Tie downs and cradles can be very effective and unfortunatly there are not enough mangrove creeks for everyone to hole up in when the big one starts heading your way.

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Old 08-05-2008, 22:16   #13
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Tie downs and cradles can be very effective and unfortunatly there are not enough mangrove creeks for everyone to hole up in when the big one starts heading your way.

Keegan
That may be true at times but I've noticed that the vast majority of cruisers will stay out in a harbor or in their marina even when there's a serious hurricane heading our way... when there's plenty of room in the mangroves.For instance, during Wilma I think there were a dozen boats in Whiskey Creek and room for plenty more, and over 200 in Boot Key Harbor.
If there aren't any mangrove creeks available then any kind of hole is better than an anchorage, mooring field,marina, or being on land.
Not trying to sound like a know it all here but it seems like there's a lot of people out there that need to know this.
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Old 09-05-2008, 01:37   #14
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When i lived in Darwin, the general idea was tie down to big slabs of concrete. Up the mangroves is nice, but there are 7 and 8 m tides, so much of the mangroves dries out and you have to make sure you can sit on the bottom, and then if there is a tidal surge, it can come as a wave. I stilllike the idea of spiderwebbing the boat in the mangroves, making sure there are a few right angle bends between me and the sea,
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Old 09-05-2008, 03:46   #15
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If there aren't any mangrove creeks available then any kind of hole is better than an anchorage, mooring field,marina, or being on land.
Not trying to sound like a know it all here but it seems like there's a lot of people out there that need to know this.
It's a great idea and I've spent many days looking for one that would work. The problem around these parts is that the Mangrove creeks aren't dredged, nor have they ever been dredged. Call me overly cautious, but I just won't put my boat in a 2 foot deep creek during a hurricane..
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