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Old 19-06-2006, 09:22   #1
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Storm Preparations - What Do You Do?

I'm one of the antsy owners fortunate enough to have a boat moored along the Gulf Coast of the U.S. Since storm season is already upon us, I've been considering what storm preparations I would take to help survive a storm while in port.

In my area, Port Aransas TX, the coastline is a barrier island - either Mustang Island or Padre Island. I imagine the highest point is the dunes along the beach which are maybe 20 - 30 ft tall, and the island is probably 1/2 - 3/4 miles wide. Inside of the barrier islands lies two bays: Corpus Christi and Aransas. They are both about 10 - 15 miles wide and offer a great fetch for a storm should it cross over the barrier islands and head for the mainland.

Due to draft limitations, I cannot go up river on the mainland side. I also believe that heading to a mainland-side marina is a poor choice because of the wide expanse of the bay. So I have decided to stay in our present marina which is nestled up against the back (inland) side of the barrier island. It will at least provide a bit of a breakwater until the storm surge plows across the island.

The marina is all concrete floating docks. Cleats are plentiful but already "iffy" due to their age & mountings. I doubt that running storm lines to them would help for very long. I've thought about running a kedge anchor out off the stern and dropping the bow anchors underfoot. Also considering running chain loops around the concrete pilings and attaching storm lines to the boat from there.

I know I'm not the only one who would have to leave their boat in the water at a marina. What tips / tricks do you use in preparing your boat for a storm under these circumstances?
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Old 19-06-2006, 10:16   #2
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Mustang Island

Mark,
I arrived at the Corpus Christi marina in July of 2003 with “Claudette” a couple of days behind me. Now Claudette was “only” a category 1 hurricane but it was obvious to me with the very limited experience I had at the time, that the Corpus Christi marina offered no protection whatsoever. I moved DoodleBug to N 27 deg 45.5’ W 97 deg 10.7’ in the lee of Mustang Island and put out three anchors. I tandemed a 45 pound delta with 40 feet of chain onto my main anchor – a 65 pound CQR type. I deployed this at 15 to 1 scope. I then deployed an FX-85 Fortress anchor on mixed rode at 90 degrees to the main rode and also at 15 to 1 scope. I laid out the two rodes based upon the expected wind directions as the hurricane passed. Both rodes were protected with “discarded” fire hose for chafe protection where they passed over the bow rollers. I stripped the sails, bimini, SSB antenna and anything else removable and stored everything below. Closed the water-tight bulkheads, shut off the diesel, turned on the anchor light and called the coast guard to let them know she was at anchor and there was no crew aboard. I then dinghied ashore where my wife met me with a rental car.

After the storm passed my wife and I returned to the boat and found everything in perfect shape. According to the GPS, she hadn’t moved an inch. Would this preparation have worked in category 3 storms? I don’t know. But the way I looked at it then, the bottom was sand and even if she had drug anchors, she had many miles to drag all those chains and anchors before hitting the Corpus Christi seawall.

You ask, should I have stayed on board? You gotta be kidding – the boat was insured.

On a final note, there were no other vessels in sight anywhere. I believe you need to make your own decisions on hurricane protection and never just follow the crowd.
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Old 19-06-2006, 10:52   #3
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Thanks Ed - I too had considered CC Marina but it's way too exposed as you know. I also considered anchoring in the lee of Mustang Island as you did. Perhaps that is the best solution. Could drag into the oil platform / pilings in the bay, but that's less likely than banging against the docks.

Are you still in the CC area?
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Old 19-06-2006, 10:59   #4
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After Katrina came Rita. I went down to Clear Lake and stripped the boat. I fully expected it to end up against the wall at the leeward end of the marina under a pile of larger boats. When I took the insurance photos I expected never to see the boat floating again. I took every thing off the topsides except the stick and lifelines. I tied off to the tops of the pilings in case the tide risers failed. We dodged that bullet with our neighbors over in Beaumont taking the brunt of the blow. The unexpected part of the whole thing was loosing the water in Galveston bay. We (every one in the marina) planned for a storm surge over the tops of the pilings but had an unusual drop in water level that left a lot of boats hanging by their cleats or worse. There were no gelcoat scratches on my boat but you can still tell where the tires were if look hard enough.

It may be hard to beat the south shore of Clear lake for hurricane protection on the Texas coast. A buddy of mine writes the Campbell's Cruising Guide to Texas and has had his boat in ever bit of water between Sabine Lake and Boca Chica. He moved his boat from Rockport to Clear Lake last year due to the better hurricane protection.

As for setup. I strip the boat, secure it to the dock as best I can, put out the tires, and hit the road. Let the insurance take over. I fully expected to loose my boat and my home last year and lucked out. It is amazing what becomes important when you can take only one car load of stuff. Anyway there is nothing worth saving that would make me ride out a cat 3 or better at home or any hurricane on a boat.

It looks like we may be brewing another Allison today.
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Old 19-06-2006, 11:52   #5
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Cool We split

Mark,
We had sailed to CC in 2003, to prepare the boat I had just bought for a circumnavigation. DoodleBug is currently lying in Darwin, Oz and will be leaving in September to cross the Indian Ocean to the Med. See us at www.sv-doodlebug.com

I agree with Pura Vida on the merits of Clear Lake. We moved to the Kemah area shortly after “Claudette”. I wrote some comments on this (which are posted on our web site under “How We Started”).

I had the same thoughts that you did about the oil platforms in CC Bay. Sometimes you just have to get lucky!
Fair Winds,
Ed
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Old 20-06-2006, 07:05   #6
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What about techniques other folks use if you MUST weather the storm in the marina?
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Old 21-06-2006, 10:31   #7
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Thumbs up Save the beer

Mark,
I have been into Aransas Pass Marina a couple of times and from what I remember, it is about as protected as you can get - if you must be right there on the Gulf. If you have made the decision that you are not leaving the marina, then I would add this to the advice given by Pura Vida. After you have doubled your own lines and fenders and run extra lines with chafe protection from the bow / stern across the slip, so that you have all four “corners” of your boat secure – you had better check your neighbors to make sure their vessels are similarly secured or else your effort was wasted. Take your insurance policy and any remaining beer with you when you leave.
Good Luck
Ed
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Old 22-06-2006, 13:04   #8
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Mark, I am now a veteran of last year's storms that included Katrina as it came across Miami, Wilma, and most recently this year's almost hurricane Alberto. I say almost because winds in my marina hit 70 mph. I stayed aboard during Katrina as did most of us in the marina located in North Miami Beach because the NHC said the storm would make landfall north around West Palm Beach. Well as i'm sure you know, mother nature is tough to predict and after the eye passed the marina, I spent the next 12 hours on a 10-15 degree heel in my slip. Well, me and a bottle of Captain Morgan. Winds reached the high 80s-90. I spent alot of prep time, new dock lines, fenders out everywhere, lowered the Jib and packed it away, lashed the main and anything else loose. The only thing I lost was the little yellow cap on my dingy gas can.
Wilma was another story. I had to travel up to DC for work and Wilma destroyed the marina. I still feel lucky however, my jib which used to be a 130% is now a 120%, my dingy engine went in the drink and for the real kick in the cajones, two stern pilings snapped completely off shooting my 18k pound boat on to the dock. Luckily it caused only a 3x3 in hole and no water entered the boat.
What would I have done differently, well here is a list:
Take everything off of the topsides of the boat
Where possible tie primary and secondary bow and stern lines
If possible deploy a stern anchor out into the fairway of the Marina. (no one is going to be boating anyway)
Remove as much from the inside of the boat as possible. This should include your registration, documentation, charts, bedding, electronics etc.
If it does go down at least you can save some things.

Just a few thoughts. Best of luck

Wiz
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Old 24-06-2006, 11:16   #9
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Southwinds sailing has a good writeup on storm prep in the current issue.
http://www.southwindsmagazine.com/pd...dsjune2006.pdf
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Old 06-07-2006, 12:08   #10
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Ask a shrimper where he goes? If I remember correctly lots of shrimpers go up the Nueches River. Just north west of Ingleside is a very good storm anchorage. The docks at PA are not good in a big storm. I lived in CC for 25 years and can attest to the destruction in all the marinas. Get away from the immovable objects. Years ago the CC marina decided to remove all the boats and place them on cradles across Shoreline Drive. Most, if not all, were blown over.
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Old 06-07-2006, 13:53   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ed Steele
Mark,
I arrived at the Corpus Christi marina in July of 2003 with “Claudette” a couple of days behind me. Now Claudette was “only” a category 1 hurricane but it was obvious to me with the very limited experience I had at the time, that the Corpus Christi marina offered no protection whatsoever. I moved DoodleBug to N 27 deg 45.5’ W 97 deg 10.7’ in the lee of Mustang Island and put out three anchors. I tandemed a 45 pound delta with 40 feet of chain onto my main anchor – a 65 pound CQR type. I deployed this at 15 to 1 scope. I then deployed an FX-85 Fortress anchor on mixed rode at 90 degrees to the main rode and also at 15 to 1 scope. I laid out the two rodes based upon the expected wind directions as the hurricane passed. Both rodes were protected with “discarded” fire hose for chafe protection where they passed over the bow rollers. I stripped the sails, bimini, SSB antenna and anything else removable and stored everything below. Closed the water-tight bulkheads, shut off the diesel, turned on the anchor light and called the coast guard to let them know she was at anchor and there was no crew aboard. I then dinghied ashore where my wife met me with a rental car.

After the storm passed my wife and I returned to the boat and found everything in perfect shape. According to the GPS, she hadn’t moved an inch. Would this preparation have worked in category 3 storms? I don’t know. But the way I looked at it then, the bottom was sand and even if she had drug anchors, she had many miles to drag all those chains and anchors before hitting the Corpus Christi seawall.

You ask, should I have stayed on board? You gotta be kidding – the boat was insured.

On a final note, there were no other vessels in sight anywhere. I believe you need to make your own decisions on hurricane protection and never just follow the crowd.
I had a similar experience in Ft. Lauderdale about 10 or so years back. I moved by Irwin 38 to Lake Silvia and put out the 4 biggest anchors that I could find in all directions. I had a "bridle" with a swivel and secured all the anchor lines to that. Then I left the boat.

Fortunately, the hurricane passed to the North and I never found out how this would have worked. But I have to think it would have been better than at the slip.
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Old 07-07-2006, 00:32   #12
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I used to have to worry about securing the boat for typhoons in Hong Kong:

If you're staying in a marina, and you have any choice in the slip, find one that points your bow into the expected prevailing wind direction. Barring that, try for a leeward spot. In any case, avoid a windward slot, as you'll be crunched against the pier with potentially bad consequences. Put out fenders regardless.

Use lots of spring lines (nylon or similar stretchy material) that allow the boat to ride freely with the storm surge.

As insurance, the mast step is usually a very secure point, and an extra line around it and forward is a good thing.

Reduce windage to absolute minimum. That means removing sails, sail covers, etc. and getting everything off the deck.

Cleat the mainsheet down solidly, so the boom doesn't go swinging in the wind.

Bungy cord halyards to the mast to try to eliminate slap.

Lastly, make sure all cockpit drains are clear and working well to keep the cockpit from flooding. That means getting underneath - if necessary - to clear marine growth from the through hulls.

Below some photos of preparations for Typhoon Imbudo that hit Hong Kong a few years ago.
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Old 07-07-2006, 07:25   #13
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The scary part of those pictures is the big MY in the next slip! I'll bet you also spent some time tying her off as well.
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Old 07-07-2006, 17:41   #14
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that marina is largely liveaboard, so the MY was more or less permanently attached to the dock. These "houseboats" are just that - people live in 'em year round and pay a premium to do so.
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Old 12-07-2006, 15:38   #15
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It depends

We've survived several New England hurricanes at anchor or on moorings, including Bob with 100+ mph winds. We get a lot of storm surge--more than 10 feet of extra water in Bob, so marinas are very dangerous. Make sure you marina has really tall pilings if you are planning to stay there, but I would prefer a swinging mooring backed up with anchors. Ideally, one should head to a spot with few other boats as that is usually your biggest problem--someone with more insurance than sense will just leave their boat and it will inevitably break loose. Watch out for commercial boats and barges that aren't well secured. If you must stay in the marina, tie to the pilings, trees, something on land, etc. Don't depend on cleats on floating docks. Use lots of lines and tie off your neighbors too. However, given a few hours to prepare, I would rather take my chances at anchor if there is any decent anchorage nearby with a sand or mud bottom. After Bob it took several hours to dig my anchors out of the bottom (mud). There is no way my Fortress anchors were going to pull out--something would break first.
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