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Old 05-04-2011, 19:59   #1
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Hurricane Hole Anchoring Plan: Critique Please

Dear All,

Please see attached .jpg for hurricane hole anchor plan. Please advise on-
Do I need two anchors out even with being tied to at least 4 trees? (the cqr would be on 150' on 3/8 chain in 10' of water.) Any other concerns? What about clearing w/property owners about tying up to private land? What about sentinels or dead weights to lay lines down for small boats to pass over(there is a small boat landing on the north side) since I am pretty much blocking the creek?

I am just prepping on where to go when I have to leave the dock. I am thinking in storm conditions 50+knts as in a weak tropical storm and up to the worst conditions . Pulling out is not an option. I have scouted out this location because of the trees on either side and it is close by. The width of the creek is around 110'. This spot is far inland, about 20 miles. We took the whaler over there the other day and it looked good. The creek was wide enough that if/when trees did fall they would not hit the boat if she was in the middle of the creek. The creek drains a mud flat, so there is not a ton of water moving in and out of there.

My first option is to dodge the storm if the storm track makes that possible.
The hole would be plan b.
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Old 06-04-2011, 04:18   #2
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Re: hurricane hole anchoring plan critique please

hello, Anybody out there?
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Old 06-04-2011, 04:42   #3
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Re: Hurricane Hole Anchoring Plan: Critique Please


You plan looks good to me. Just a few thoughts.

First, if the creek is 110 feet wide, your lines to the trees will be 60-70 feet long (giving a few extra feet for tree set backs and finding big enough trees). Is this enough scope to account for a 15-20 foot storm surge? You could increase the scope by running the forward lines aft and the aft line forward as springs. Next is what is farther up the creek? Your picture doesn't show how far up the creek it goes. My point is that there may be other boats trying to get by you on the way up the creek. You may want to think about a way to slack lines or put the tree lines in late to allow others by. I have heard stories of folks cutting lines they thought were in their way. Last, I think the anchors are a good idea. I would place the boat with two or more anchors and then reinforce with the trees.

The only thing that your plan does not allow is boat rotation into the wind. I think that you can count on the wind not being on the bow for most of the storm. This increases the pressures on gear.


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Old 06-04-2011, 04:51   #4
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Re: Hurricane Hole Anchoring Plan: Critique Please

I've used a similar plan for several hurricanes and tropical storms. Inland, forgiving bank, little debris, few other boats, raised land or surrounding trees and a good holding substrate are all qualities that you seem to have achieved. My concern would be the fetch running up and down the creek. If the creek bends within a mile or less in both directions, this would also be favorable. Contacting the land owners may be difficult and without recourse. I would plan to retain the ability to slack the lines to shore on either side if a vessel is transiting the creek before the blow.
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Old 06-04-2011, 05:14   #5
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Re: Hurricane Hole Anchoring Plan: Critique Please

Account for the likelihood that someone else considers the same location "their spot" and may be there ahead of you. You have to provide a means for people to get past you. If the storm brings lots of rain the mud flat you mention could become a catchment area that results in substantial current in the creek as it drains.

Leave plenty of room on the tree lines and anchor rode. You may need to ease the lines to move chafe points. I use two snubbers on my chain to have a back-up in place in case the shorter one parts.
sail fast and eat well, dave
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Old 06-04-2011, 05:32   #6
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Re: Hurricane Hole Anchoring Plan: Critique Please

If at all the height of the vegetation varies, pick a spot where it is the highest. If your shore lines will be tied onto tree trunks, wrap the trees with old jute bags (or anything similar) to minimize the damage to tree bark. The tree will say thank you and you will be allowed to use its kind support in the future.

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Old 06-04-2011, 05:43   #7
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Re: Hurricane Hole Anchoring Plan: Critique Please

This is a copy/paste from my previous post in "Trimarams...".

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...


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… (¾”)
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!


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!!!

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Old 06-04-2011, 05:48   #8
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Re: Hurricane Hole Anchoring Plan: Critique Please

Hurricanes may wash a few trees down into the flooding waters around your craft, snag your lines and carry all away. Just a thought.
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Old 06-04-2011, 16:36   #9
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Re: Hurricane Hole Anchoring Plan: Critique Please

A question to the OP: are you planning on staying aboard or not? That will change whether you can get away with totally blocking the area shown.
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Old 07-04-2011, 06:03   #10
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Re: Hurricane Hole Anchoring Plan: Critique Please

Very good comments. Thank you.

As far as staying aboard, It would depend on the storm, during a hurricane definitely not. I think in a storm up to 45-65mph I would stay with the boat.

I thought with sentinels (dead weights) on the lines to the trees small boats, dinghies would be able to pass. The question is would a larger sailboat want to try to get past? If so, then we would have to have 'this is my hole conversation', 'we were here first, me, my boat and my 12guage!'

Other than the ramp on the north side there is no houses or other docks and the creek quickly peters out to a mud flat. This is the only section w/trees on both sides.
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