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Old 29-05-2021, 08:11   #16
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Re: Hurricane plans based in Charleston

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Originally Posted by s/v Moondancer View Post
.............
............... We placed 3 anchors at 120 deg to each other off the bow, the bow remains pointing in the wind but the boat cannot 'sail and accelerate.' Worked with a long-keeled boat but a fin keel might foul the rodes.............
'good advice here from Moondancer. My experiences are from my vessel that doesn't have this behavior. I remember being anchored during a storm with a Hunter behind me that was constantly doing this "sail and accelerate" dance while my boat stayed put.
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Old 29-05-2021, 09:11   #17
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Re: Hurricane plans based in Charleston

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Originally Posted by JebLostInSpace View Post
So for the first time since buying my boat, I am parking it and sitting still for a significant time. I landed on Charleston as the place to park, because I like the town, know some folks here, and am able to work here. The complication is: I didn't land on this decision until very recently, and I'm now trying to work out my hurricane plan at the last minute before the season "officially" starts.

I've contacted 3 area boatyards who all say they are out of space for hurricane hauls, and have waitlists 40+ boats deep. Those 3 boatyards are the only ones I can find within a day's sail that do hauls at all. (There are one or two more, but they're under a bridge I don't fit through).

I can go further afield to look for haul outs. But it requires planning further in advance. This feels suboptimal because the further ahead of a storm's approach that I move, the less reliable the forecast will be. It becomes more likely that I'll accidentally go to a bunch of trouble to move my boat right into the path of a storm...

The way I see it, I have 4 options once a storm is forecasted to come to Charleston:
  1. Stay put and weather it at my dock
  2. Find a haul out somewhere further away
  3. Make my way inland and upriver as far as possible and anchor
  4. Attempt to move entirely out of the storm's path

Wondering if anyone has advice on which of these options is best. 1 seems risky, especially since my marina is not very protected. 2 sounds like the biggest PITA to do, but maybe is the safest. I've heard that people have success with option 3, but it sounds quite scary. 4 would be great, but might be impossible depending on the storm's size and the confidence in the forecast.

Or maybe I've overlooked a better fifth option?
I think I'd consider taking the mast down and moving the boat as far upriver as you can get. As long as you have a deck stepped mast, this can be done fairly quickly and easily if you do see a hurricane coming.
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Old 29-05-2021, 10:56   #18
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Re: Hurricane plans based in Charleston

Jeb, Here's a place that you might want to investigate. It's not as far inland as further up the Cooper, but it has some more developed and higher surrounding land and about nine miles from the coastline. Look up the Wando River past the I-526 bridge and turn north at green marker 17 up Nowell Creek. After a long turning curve to port the creek turns NW for about 2,000 ft. Anchoring half way up this section will keep your longest fetch at 1,000 ft. in 6 to 14 foot depths. I would want to check the holding quality of the bottom with hope that it's not that oozing "potato soup". If it's a substantial muck, clay or sand, this could be a good place. I've never been to this spot, but it's the type of place that appeals to me for a safe storm anchorage.
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Old 29-05-2021, 19:37   #19
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Re: Hurricane plans based in Charleston

There is a safe harbor boatyard with haul out and dry storage way up the window. Did you try there for storage?
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Old 30-05-2021, 09:10   #20
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Re: Hurricane plans based in Charleston

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There is a safe harbor boatyard with haul out and dry storage way up the window. Did you try there for storage?
I think a spelling correcting program caught GreenWave's message. That marina is up the Wando. 'looks like a good option, but you said these hurricane haul out places were all booked.
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Old 30-05-2021, 10:14   #21
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Re: Hurricane plans based in Charleston

While pre-locating a bend in the river or a small cove upstream is not a bad idea, I’d be concerned if this was your “plan”... and you arrive to find out that your planned hidey-hole spot was 10 other boaters “Plan”. I’d scout location B, C, and D.... AND allow enough time pre-impact to move one from location to the others. Just a thought.
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Old 31-05-2021, 04:27   #22
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Re: Hurricane plans based in Charleston

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.........................
.................. I’d be concerned if this was your “plan”... and you arrive to find out that your planned hidey-hole spot was 10 other boaters “Plan”.
.............
I think this is an important concern; however, I've noticed a pattern related to geographic location. Throughout the holiday cruising grounds of the Bahamas and the Caribbean, as well as the Florida Keys; the safe hurricane holes fill quickly and it's very difficult to find a spot with much room.

Back in the US East Coast "home ports" there is a far lower percentage of people with their boats as their main concern during a hurricane. At these places the protection for houses, businesses and other family often leave the boat in third or fourth place with lines added at the dock and a reliance upon insurance.

I don't mean to discount Phycooler's wise advice, but your odds of having some isolation are pretty good. That said, YES,- have a second or third choice!
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Old 31-05-2021, 14:09   #23
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Re: Hurricane plans based in Charleston

I have done it twice--both times the cyclone came close and once a hit--and these were Cat 4 cyclones. I went up a mangrove creek and tied off to the mangroves front, side and aft, and laid out anchors fore and aft and one to the side away from the mangrove trees to which I was secured. I do not use side mooring cleats as cyclone securing points unless it is unavoidable. For my cyclone ropes I use LONG 20mm nylon or 30mm polypropylene ropes (allows for tide and cyclone surge).

If I am remaining aboard, I like to rig double deck lines on which to clip a harness, and keep a face mask and motorcycle helmet and heavy clothing handy along with said harness to clip onto the deck lines in case I have to venture on deck.

Even small twigs can become dangerous projectiles at speeds of over one hundred miles an hour. You do not want a strike from them in the eyes or on any uncovered skin--and a coconut travelling at the speeds of a cat four or cat five cyclone could be fatal.

What brought it home to me was seeing a Quandong tree about thirty centimetres thick (a little bit denser than heartwood Balsa) with a splinter of hard wood from some shattered tree transfixing it. I know--it sounds incredible. It would have been fatal to any live creature.

That is why if one lives in areas where such cyclones are regular events, one needs to design your vessel with them in mind. Strong mooring points, slides for window and portlight protection screens, secure deck lockers for stowing everything securely. One has to be able to get everything off the masts, sails all stowed below decks, hatches locked, and the halyards tied off to the side rails so they do not damage themselves or the mast finish by lashing around or vibrating against the mast.

Dinghys, if inflatable, need to be deflated and in a deck locker. All cockpit drains need to be clear. Solar arrays dismantled, wind turbines removed and stowed. Any foldable dodgers need to be lashed down securely. Water tankage needs to be full, food and a genset is useful because you may be there for a day or two.

But there is no reason one should see them as other than a dangerous nuisance that can be survived without too much damage. After the storm--your vessel will be covered in fragments of vegetation, and your cockpit as like as not full of leaves and twigs. If they block your cockpit drains, that might fill with water and trickle down inside your vessel through the storm board slides--where your bilge pump will have to deal with it if you are not aboard. That could leave you with flat batteries--it is what happened to me.
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Old 01-06-2021, 02:56   #24
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Re: Hurricane plans based in Charleston

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Originally Posted by Mike Banks View Post
.....................
................. Even small twigs can become dangerous projectiles at speeds of over one hundred miles an hour. You do not want a strike from them in the eyes or on any uncovered skin--and a coconut travelling at the speeds of a cat four or cat five cyclone could be fatal. ..............
I agree with your description of it all being preparation,- especially removing all the windage. We never had any Cat 4 experiences like you, but we don't venture out on the deck in Cat l. There's little that can be accomplished and at that point our plan is to remain within our protective shell. Only once did we get blown ashore, but this was on a sandy bank and we were able to work our way off at high tide. Our only damage ever was the loss of about two feet of rub rail when we stayed at a dock in less than hurricane winds.
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Old 01-06-2021, 03:46   #25
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Re: Hurricane plans based in Charleston

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Originally Posted by Mike Banks View Post

If I am remaining aboard, I like to rig double deck lines on which to clip a harness, and keep a face mask and motorcycle helmet and heavy clothing handy along with said harness to clip onto the deck lines in case I have to venture on deck.

Even small twigs can become dangerous projectiles at speeds of over one hundred miles an hour. You do not want a strike from them in the eyes or on any uncovered skin--and a coconut travelling at the speeds of a cat four or cat five cyclone could be fatal ...
While I don't generally recommend staying aboard, during a cyclone, that's GREAT advice.
I've often used swim goggles, during driving rain storms.
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Old 04-06-2021, 07:09   #26
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Re: Hurricane plans based in Charleston

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Jeb, Here's a place that you might want to investigate. It's not as far inland as further up the Cooper, but it has some more developed and higher surrounding land and about nine miles from the coastline. Look up the Wando River past the I-526 bridge and turn north at green marker 17 up Nowell Creek. After a long turning curve to port the creek turns NW for about 2,000 ft. Anchoring half way up this section will keep your longest fetch at 1,000 ft. in 6 to 14 foot depths. I would want to check the holding quality of the bottom with hope that it's not that oozing "potato soup". If it's a substantial muck, clay or sand, this could be a good place. I've never been to this spot, but it's the type of place that appeals to me for a safe storm anchorage.
I don't know what their anchor setup was, but a couple on a catamaran tried to ride out Hurricane Hugo up Nowell Creek. They lost their lives in what must have been a night of unimaginable terror.
My takeaway was that you don't mess around with storms worse than Cat 1 or 2. You get yourself to a place of safety. Boats are replaceable.
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Old 04-06-2021, 19:49   #27
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Re: Hurricane plans based in Charleston

I have kept my 39ft sailboat in the Morgan Creek Yacht Basin on Isle of Palms, SC since 2012, so we have endured several storms of various intensity and paths over the years. There are several threats to your vessel you must consider, and depending on the expected path, timing, and intensity of the storm, you can minimize your risks through a range of measures from which you can choose at the time. There is no one solution that protects you against all scenarios.

Main Risks can be bundled in the following categories:

1. Shifting Winds
2. Waves/Fetch
3. Tides/Storm Surge
4. Rain
5. Other vessels
6. Hard physical infrastructure
7. Flying debris
8. Groundings

1. Shifting Winds
Where the central eye of the hurricane is predicted to be relative to your vessel position is a big factor in deciding how to mitigate wind risks. Unfortunately, predictions accurate enough to make a decision typically come too late when you have a direct hit or glancing blow from the storm. However, with a less direct storm approach path, and a little luck, wind direction will be primarily from one quadrant, varying no more than 90-120 degrees. In that case, a bahamian type anchoring system, with bow and stern anchor points orienting your bow into the expected wind quadrant works to minimize wind risks. No swinging at anchor, minimized wave action on the beam, etc. And you can shelter in a narrow stream to minimize fetch.

But otherwise, you should plan on your vessel encountering winds from nearly every quadrant, in which case, you should allow your vessel to swing 360 degrees maintaining your bow into either the wind or the resulting wave action. In Charleston, this drives you to head for the main rivers or larger bays, where the problem of fetch becomes predominant

2. Waves/Fetch
In the Charleston area, there is little shelter from the wind provided by onshore natural or manmade structure. No hills or cliffs. The low country (aka lowcountry) has very few trees to provide wind breaks. One reason I selected Morgan Creek Harbor was the wind break provided by the surrounding homes on either side of the harbor. While very near the coast, it is still the most sheltered marina in the area.

Wave action created by a long fetch under storm conditions can be significant, especially with wind against current. The only way to mitigate against this is to tuck into one the many small creeks that flow into one of the main rivers (Wando, Stono, Cooper, Ashley, Edisto, Wadmalaw, etc.) But this tactic drives you to a bahamian anchoring method and precludes swinging at anchor. So expected wind conditions as outlined in 1 above will impact wave risks.

3. Tides/Storm Surge
Storm surge is potentially the most damaging factor resulting from the storm, but is very dependant on the timing of the arrival of the storm surge at your specific location relative to the local high tide at your location. If the surge arrives at or near low tide, its effects are mitigated. If it arrives at high tide, its effects are amplified. Because hurricane speeds vary unpredictably, you won't know till 12-24 hours out the juxtaposition of high tide and storm surge arrival. It is nerve racking.

There is the infamous aerial photo after Hurricane Hugo showing the entire fleet of boats berthed at the Morgan Creek Marina beached on Goat Island. The floating docks were floated completely off the tops of the pilings and pushed by wind and waves across the ICW and onto the nearby Goat Island. All pilings at the Marina have been lengthened since Hugo, so it would take a significant combination of tide and surge for that result to happen again. Staying aboard during recent hurricanes, I measured a 4 ft+ margin of remaining piling length at high tide and peak storm surge. Your marina may be different, so ask the locals.

4. Rain
Recent storms have been less intense from a wind velocity standpoint, but significant in total rainfall. Be aware that days after the storm passes, as rainfall in the entire catchment area flows down into the main rivers, the current will be significant and a lot of floating debris will be roaring down the streams and rivers. There is a balance between risking these currents to recover your boat quickly after the storm and getting your vessel out of harms way of the floating debris, potentially puncturing your hull if you are in a main channel swinging on the hook.

5. Other vessels
Other vessels become a threat either in a marina environment, in a hurricane hole when in close proximity, and when swinging on the hook downstream from a dragging vessel. You will be too busy securing your vessel to also have the time to ensure your neighbor is sufficiently secure. In a Marina, a strong social network and mutual supporting relationships well before hurricane season goes a long way to ensuring all vessels are as secure as possible. As you will know, many of the vessels berthed in Charleston are not owned by locals, but owners living 4-6 hours away in some cases Few, in my experience take the time to double up their docklines and strip their sails and canvas before the storm. A recipe for disaster. Assess the situation in your local marina and decide accordingly. I have gone to a hurricane hole on one occassion (2016) and remained aboard in the marina for all the rest since 2012. The only time I experienced damage was at the hurricane hole. Why you may ask did I experience damage at the hurricane hole? Well....

6. Hard physical infrastructure

For Hurricane Matthew, 2016, the predicted path of the eye was tracking 50 miles offshore the Isle of Palms 72 hours out. Any deviation west would mean a direct hit on IOP. On the Wednesday morning before the Saturday predicted landfall, I decided to head out from my IOP slip towards my pre-selected hurricane hole. I was the last vessel to traverse the Ben Sawyer drawbridge at 11:30 before it shut down at noon on Wednesday due to high winds. NOTE: Draw Bridges in the area will not open when winds exceed 35mph. This condition can exist several days before the storms arrival.

I felt so clever having found this hurricane hole on Google Earth, the only spot in the region with a deep (enough) water depth, a hairpin turn with TREES!! on both sides of the stream, and within a days motoring from the IOP. My plan was to tie up to the trees ashore bow and stern rather than rely on a potentially poor holding bottom. After securing the vessel, I would launch my inflatable dinghy, cross the major river and beach at a nearby landing site, where a friend would pick me and dinghy up and wait out the storm in the comfort of his home with a well stocked bar. Masterful!

But as I entered the stream off the major river, in the distance I saw the tall pilothouses of TWO! harbor tugs. As I rounded the bend en route to my hurricane hole, those tugs were lashed to TWO!! river barges, lashed side by side and straddling the entire width of the stream! This prevented me from reaching my hurrican hole, which lay another 400 yards upstream from the barges. My disappointment was consuming.

I proceeded to work plan B, which was to anchor slighty downstream from the two barges and so I began laying out my all chain rode. As I did, a small runabout from the towing company approached a told me I should not anchor there because a THIRD!! tug/barge lashup was heading my way with intent to hunker down in the stream right where I was anchoring. He would foul my anchor chain in the process. On the horizon, I could see the top of his pilothouse approaching the stream entrance. I was in no position to argue. Mass wins this argument. I had to move and fast. I recovered my anchor, and at the suggestion of the tow company dude, headed for a nearby bulkhead fixed pier. The SC Department of Natural Resources trawler was tied up there and the tow company dude said no one would take issue with me tying up as well. I went with Plan C.

Having tied up to the bulkhead, I needed a way to hold my boat 4-6 feet off the hard infrastructure of the pier. Luckily, there was a very robust piling about 40 ft away on the other side of the stream. I had a large diameter line used for towing my "old school" water generator propeller. With the help of the runabout, we tied one end to my bow, ran the line around the piling, and then back to the boat, where I secured it to my stern. I winched it as tight as I could to take out any stretch. It sounded like a good plan. It wasn't.

During the storm, as I was drinking my beers, the winds shifted through nearly 360 degrees and the tide rose during the storm flooding the banks of the pierhead. Because of this, the line running behind the pier just shifted to and fro with the wind pushing alternatively against the bow and stern. So the bow hit the pier during certain wind directions and the stern hit the pier during others. Fortunately, my boat is built like a tank and the pier actually took more of a beating than my boat! But it did manage to punch a hole in one of my 1/2 inch lexan portholes and leave a nasty dock rash on my starboard quarter forward. Dissappointment, but not tragedy.

What I SHOULD have done with the line around the piling was do a round turn, or even two round turns to prevent the slipping that occurred. Rookie mistake....lesson learned.

When I recovered my boat 3 days after the storm passed, there was still floating debris roaring down the channel of the river. But I was moving with the current, so less of a threat. When I returned to the marina, I spoke with a couple who had remained on board their vessel in the marina during the storm. They said that while it was a harrowing experience they would rather not repeat, their boat had no damage. Mitchell had been downgraded to Category 1 by the time it passed off IOP, so I decided then and there that unless future storms were Cat 2 or higher with "near approaches" to IOP, I would take advantage of the wind shelter provided by the surrounding homes and remain on board in the marina. Since 2017 I have weathered all remaining storms onboard in the marina without incident or damage.

7.Flying Debris

Proximity to structures or trees presents its own risks from flying debris. If a house gets taken out by storm surge or wind, lots of ballistic missiles present a threat. Take that into consideration in selecting you location.

8. Groundings

Whether swinging on the hook or anchored bow and stern, if your ground tackle isn't adequate, you risk grounding or impacting other boats or hard infrastructure. While grounding in the soft pluff mud of the low country is unlikely to deliver significant damage (short of encountering an oyster bank), the more costly outcome is your boat floating away at extreme high tide + storm surge depths to an area that at normal tides is high and dry or partially submerged. Last hurricane, an errant sailboat ended up in the marsh under the IOP Connector causeway in 3 feet of water. Only a swarm of PWCs were able to drag it out to deeper water for recovery. Recovering a grounded vessel well above the high water mark will be costly.

Well hopefully my lessons learned will be helpful to you in making decisions about your actions during the next hurricane. Key take away is to not have ONE plan, but a series of audibles you can execute depending on the circumstances presented by the weather guessers. I'm a retired military strategic planner and one of the often quoted "words of wisdom" is:

"No plan ever survives first contact with the enemy's main force."

And so it goes for Hurricanes as well.

Plan ahead and stay safe!
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Old 15-06-2021, 03:54   #28
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Re: Hurricane plans based in Charleston

[QUOTE=JebLostInSpace;3415572]. I've contacted 3 area boatyards who all say they are out of space for hurricane hauls, and have waitlists 40+ boats deep. Those 3 boatyards are the only ones I can find within a day's sail that do hauls at all. (There are one or two more, but they're under a bridge I don't fit through).

I can go further afield to look for haul outs. But it requires planning further in advance. This feels suboptimal because the further ahead of a storm's approach that I move, the less reliable the forecast will be. It becomes more likely that I'll accidentally go to a bunch of trouble to move my boat right into the path of a storm...

The way I see it, I have 4 options once a storm is forecasted to come to Charleston:
  1. Stay put and weather it at my dock
  2. Find a haul out somewhere further away
  3. Make my way inland and upriver as far as possible and anchor
  4. Attempt to move entirely out of the storm's path

Wondering if anyone has advice on which of these options is best. 1 seems risky, especially since my marina is not very protected. 2 sounds like the biggest PITA to do, but maybe is the safest. I've heard that people have success with option 3, but it sounds quite scary. 4 would be great, but might be impossible depending on the storm's size and the confidence in the forecast.

Or maybe I've overlooked a better fifth option?/]

There’s Hazard Marine in Georgetown. I’d look into 2. is it still a option? If you find a yard, can you lay up now? If it’s a stretch getting there, sooner could be less of a pita.
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Old 15-06-2021, 05:04   #29
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Re: Hurricane plans based in Charleston

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Originally Posted by Dangerous Dan View Post
I don't know what their anchor setup was, but a couple on a catamaran tried to ride out Hurricane Hugo up Nowell Creek. They lost their lives in what must have been a night of unimaginable terror.
My takeaway was that you don't mess around with storms worse than Cat 1 or 2. You get yourself to a place of safety. Boats are replaceable.
I totally agree. All my accounts of anchoring out for tropical storms, as I identified earlier, are for Cat l or less. My only Cat 2 experience was a choice to remain at a marina cut into limestone beyond two 90* bends at Settlement Point in the Bahamas.

It's important to note that the high water surge that poses a great threat is less severe in islands where the water is not impeded by a large land mass. The increase in water height by the low pressure lens is much less that what occurred with hurricane Hugo's surge in South Carolina. I assume you account of the two catamarans was during hurricane Hugo. When Hugo was threatening North Florida, I had left my boat secured and prepared to stay at a house ashore. Fortunately, for me, it passed by our location.

I would not choose to anchor out in tropical storms greater than a Cat l, or even less depending upon topography, distance inland, holding, fetch..... 'many considerations.
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