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Old 12-07-2017, 07:13   #1
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Storms and living aboard

I had a cousin who built a stitch-and-glue sailboat from a kit, proudly lived aboard it, until a storm came and turned him green: he exited boating quickly after that...

(I'm not exiting, this will be my final destination)

So when storms come, what's (your own) best theory? Hunker down, or run?

Bill
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Old 12-07-2017, 08:27   #2
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Re: Storms and living aboard

Every situation is different. Got a good hole in the mangroves that nobody else knows about? Might be best to put a bunch of lines and anchors out, and stay put. Got a fast boat or plenty of advance notice, and the boat ready in all respects to sail? Crowded marina or anchorage? You should IMHO get the hell out of there at right angles to the storms predicted track. Got a nice lee that will keep you protected when the wind backs around as the storm passes? Maybe if you got good ground tackle you might want to stay for say a cat 1 or a tripical storm. Maybe not.

I think it is a great idea to keep the boat at a high state of readiness during hurricane season, both for running and for staying put. You might find yourself aground in a tangle of derelict boats and unable to extricate yourself for several weeks. Channel blocked, no shore services available. Running with no place in particular to go, all marinas full. Little advance warning of a change in the storm's track. Painfully slow progress getting clear of the storm. Seriously heavy weather even 2 or 3 days sail away from the storm center. Being ready to subsist for several weeks with food, water, fuel, repair and maintennce stuff, and not need to make a last quick run to the store to find that the shelves are already bare, is important.

There really isn't a hard and fast answer to your question. In fact there is another very painful but sometimes logical alternative, when in port, and that is to simply leave plenty of slack in your dock lines and walk or drive away from the boat and save yourself. Let the boat tend to itself and maybe it makes it, maybe not. Your own life is more important than your boat, which after all, can be replaced. If you are unsure of your abilities or of the capability of the boat, or you are looking at a Cat 5 hurricane and your top speed is 5.5kt, GET YOURSELF INLAND. On an island? Have an evacuation plan and don't wait too late to put it into play.

I'll say this, though. Well found boats can usually take heavy weather at sea a lot better than their skippers or crew. Most often, the real enemy is not water, but land. Or other boats. Knowledgeable skippers with well kept, strong and capable boats, that go to sea in a timely manner have an excellent survival rate. The guy with a years experience and an unfinished project boat who decides he will go outside and "ride it out" will probably not fare so well.

If you have the capability, sometimes motoring far inland, up a major river, is a smart choice. Storm surge 100 miles upstream is nothing compared to the mouth of the same river. Rain generated flooding will be significant but probably easier to deal with.

My marina is an inner harbor with good protection. No floating docks, though. So rising water from a storm surge requires lines to be slacked as needed. My boat currently has very limited range and speed, and running is not an option, at least not for the boat. My own current plan for a Cat 3 or less strike or a more powerful storm making landfall some distance away is to stay aboard if I am already home. If I am away at work my dock lines are arranged such that only the two lines made off to dock cleats need to be slacked for storm surges of 12 feet or less. I have no illusions... a direct or very near hit by a cat 5 storm and its probably bye bye boat. Well, thats life. Speaking of which, I intend to still have mine.

This is a good subject for you to discuss with your neighbors. What do other boat owners in your area plan to do?

Keep in mind that I have not been on a sailboat during a full hurricane, anchored, docked, or at sea. Ships and large shrimp boats don't exactly count.
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Old 12-07-2017, 08:37   #3
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Re: Storms and living aboard

Choose each anchorage and location as if a storm is coming is my best advice.
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Old 12-07-2017, 08:55   #4
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Re: Storms and living aboard

It's all about the features of your location. An ideal location would have little fetch in all directions, well inland, no surrounding debris or poorly secured vessels and a surrounding high topography.

If anchoring, then a good holding substrate with a fairly shallow depth and strong ground tackle is best.

If at a dock, then floating docks with pilings higher than the potential storm surge is best.
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Old 12-07-2017, 09:38   #5
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Re: Storms and living aboard

"Outrunning a storm": given some obvious lead-time, what speed does a boat need to carry to outrace the oncoming monster?
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Old 12-07-2017, 09:46   #6
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Re: Storms and living aboard

Quote:
Originally Posted by GrowleyMonster View Post
Every situation is different. Got a good hole in the mangroves that nobody else knows about? Might be best to put a bunch of lines and anchors out, and stay put. Got a fast boat or plenty of advance notice, and the boat ready in all respects to sail? Crowded marina or anchorage? You should IMHO get the hell out of there at right angles to the storms predicted track. Got a nice lee that will keep you protected when the wind backs around as the storm passes? Maybe if you got good ground tackle you might want to stay for say a cat 1 or a tripical storm. Maybe not.

I think it is a great idea to keep the boat at a high state of readiness during hurricane season, both for running and for staying put. You might find yourself aground in a tangle of derelict boats and unable to extricate yourself for several weeks. Channel blocked, no shore services available. Running with no place in particular to go, all marinas full. Little advance warning of a change in the storm's track. Painfully slow progress getting clear of the storm. Seriously heavy weather even 2 or 3 days sail away from the storm center. Being ready to subsist for several weeks with food, water, fuel, repair and maintennce stuff, and not need to make a last quick run to the store to find that the shelves are already bare, is important.

There really isn't a hard and fast answer to your question. In fact there is another very painful but sometimes logical alternative, when in port, and that is to simply leave plenty of slack in your dock lines and walk or drive away from the boat and save yourself. Let the boat tend to itself and maybe it makes it, maybe not. Your own life is more important than your boat, which after all, can be replaced. If you are unsure of your abilities or of the capability of the boat, or you are looking at a Cat 5 hurricane and your top speed is 5.5kt, GET YOURSELF INLAND. On an island? Have an evacuation plan and don't wait too late to put it into play.

I'll say this, though. Well found boats can usually take heavy weather at sea a lot better than their skippers or crew. Most often, the real enemy is not water, but land. Or other boats. Knowledgeable skippers with well kept, strong and capable boats, that go to sea in a timely manner have an excellent survival rate. The guy with a years experience and an unfinished project boat who decides he will go outside and "ride it out" will probably not fare so well.

If you have the capability, sometimes motoring far inland, up a major river, is a smart choice. Storm surge 100 miles upstream is nothing compared to the mouth of the same river. Rain generated flooding will be significant but probably easier to deal with.

My marina is an inner harbor with good protection. No floating docks, though. So rising water from a storm surge requires lines to be slacked as needed. My boat currently has very limited range and speed, and running is not an option, at least not for the boat. My own current plan for a Cat 3 or less strike or a more powerful storm making landfall some distance away is to stay aboard if I am already home. If I am away at work my dock lines are arranged such that only the two lines made off to dock cleats need to be slacked for storm surges of 12 feet or less. I have no illusions... a direct or very near hit by a cat 5 storm and its probably bye bye boat. Well, thats life. Speaking of which, I intend to still have mine.

This is a good subject for you to discuss with your neighbors. What do other boat owners in your area plan to do?

Keep in mind that I have not been on a sailboat during a full hurricane, anchored, docked, or at sea. Ships and large shrimp boats don't exactly count.


Appreciate your reply...
No boat yet at all (been shopping for 5 years, and waiting for my last teen to turn 18), and the "need more experience" questions are the ones I'm trying to comb through now. I get why land and other boats/ flotsam are bad (same idea with planes, oddly enough) and I was startled to hear that some run for it... and of course then, that makes you think harder.
I liked what you said about running at right angles to the storm/ makes perfect sense.
*totally forgot about storm surge being an added bonus: was just thinking wind. Strong chaos currents could be very concerning all by themselves. I'll likely te-read your reply several times, and think it through.

Thanx!
Bill
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Old 12-07-2017, 15:48   #7
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Re: Storms and living aboard

it alldepends on the storm and your location on the planet. i was happy in isla navidad in patricia.. boat did well, as did all others. but that is a designed correctly hurricane hole marina. those rock. regularly designed marinas and fonatur marinas donot do so well. outrunning a storm that moves at 10 kts is a fools errand. outrunning an extreme front on gom is a fools errand as well i know personally that one. well [laced mangroves are hard to find.
unlkes syou are well prepared for a very horrible time, donot try to outrun a storm in a sailboat.
regular t-boomers in gom are not so bad--they are just storms and tolerable. they will make you cuss a lot. anything rated severe or extreme is prolly above your skill level.
we had a busy time of it in those. we more cussed the lightning than the storm itself. we kept moving. some we decided to anchor thru, but that was because we were tired
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Old 13-07-2017, 09:02   #8
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Re: Storms and living aboard

I live in hurricane alley, right out in the middle. Anguilla gets to experience more hurricanes than anywhere, I think. I've been through a lot of tropical storms and category hurricanes. One thing that experience brings is the knowledge that anything can happen. No matter how much you want to believe the predicted path, it can change in hours.
Gonzalo was a perfect example. It went over our jobsite in St. Kitts as a tropical storm, our client told us it was no big deal. By the time it got 70 miles to Anguilla, it arrived a CAT1 and left a CAT2. there was a lot of damage, boats on the beach, trees down, power lines down everywhere.
When Luis hit St. Maarten, it sank a lot of boats. There were a lot of dead people who stayed on their boats. The best anchor or mooring makes no difference when a number of large boats break free and blow on top of you.
Don't stay on a boat in a hurricane. Boats are not worth dying for.
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Old 13-07-2017, 09:24   #9
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Re: Storms and living aboard

Wise advice from Growly Monster.

I have been through a few storms here in NYC, in particular Irene and Sandy. I was going to go up the Hudson but didn't have the time to do so. I stripped the boats clean and put everything in storage. One boat I removed the sails and another I hurricane wrapped. One was on a floating dock. Irene turned out to be a non event from a storm surge point of view. The winds weren't even that bad on the Hudson (as contrasted to the shore in the lower bay.) Sandy had a pretty good storm surge although very little rain. The floating dock came to within 8 inches of floating off the pilings. As Growly Monster said, I was prepared to lose the boat (mentally as well as by removing things) and the important things, such as my things and even myself were well inland and well secured. I had even started to look at what was available.

In a perfect world I would have moved up river but I didn't have the time. Others put their boats on the hard but many, if not most, were destroyed by the storm surge. The boat paddocks were not high enough to avoid the surge. Many, if not most, that were in the water survived.
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Old 13-07-2017, 09:58   #10
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Re: Storms and living aboard

Quote:
Originally Posted by masonc View Post
I live in hurricane alley, right out in the middle. Anguilla gets to experience more hurricanes than anywhere, I think. I've been through a lot of tropical storms and category hurricanes. One thing that experience brings is the knowledge that anything can happen. No matter how much you want to believe the predicted path, it can change in hours.
Gonzalo was a perfect example. It went over our jobsite in St. Kitts as a tropical storm, our client told us it was no big deal. By the time it got 70 miles to Anguilla, it arrived a CAT1 and left a CAT2. there was a lot of damage, boats on the beach, trees down, power lines down everywhere.
When Luis hit St. Maarten, it sank a lot of boats. There were a lot of dead people who stayed on their boats. The best anchor or mooring makes no difference when a number of large boats break free and blow on top of you.
Don't stay on a boat in a hurricane. Boats are not worth dying for.
does anguilla get 19 to 21 formations passing o n or overhead annually? if not, try mexicos west coast. is very busy in cane season.
you on east coast and in caribbean have occasional storms. occasional is not weekly, as it is here.
as each cruising ground is different there are different ways to face a storm. a storm can be anything from local weather to a cane, cat 5.
each is faced in a different manner. each manner of facing storms is good depending on survival. no survival, bad choice.
here in mazatlan i face fewer canes than in barra de navidad, on southwest coast of mexico, where we did have 19 to 21 storms pass very closely and overhead. we had the fringes of many and center of patricia., that was fun. she was the strongest cane in epac, also atlantic or caribbean. some faced her in marina slips an d did well. i was extracted involuntarily into the hotel. the determining factor is orientation to winds--if you are oriented with bow into approaching storm, you are in good shape to weather it out on boat. if not--leave. or change orientation to storm.
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Old 13-07-2017, 10:56   #11
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Re: Storms and living aboard

Many guys and gals caught out at sea even in heavy seas and moderate wind will tell you that the exhaustion that ensues is dehabilitating to the point of a Mayday distress call. A sailor's old adage ..."Any port in a storm!"

Part of any sailor's experience with life on a boat is deeply based in respect for what Mother Nature can brew up. There are seasons in each hemisphere that you just don't sail far from safety. Tons of books... tons of advice here... YouTube.
My boat is trailerable. I sail sea of Cortez, Channel Islands in southern calif, San Juans, Lake Tahoe... and hopefully when i retire east coast and Great Lakes. But always is my mind is a close eye on the weather. I have been in cyclones of over 150 mph while on the island of Guam. Twice. When winds are that high even buildings are in imminent danger. It sounds like the devil's choir with shrieking you can not imagine, moans of such depth, and vibrations so strong that you swear your eyes can see your cinder block walls deflecting. In one cyclone it shoved the air conditioner right through the wall. We didn't know till the next day. Our house was less than half a mile from Agana Point or Agate Point... forgive me I just don't remember the point's name...but when the winds were down to 40 mph or so everyone went to this point to watch the gynormous comers hitting the land. As long as I live I will never forget Mother Natures fury. Sixty footer plus. When these monsters hit the ground shook like a bomb had just cratered in. Plumes of sea spray hundred feet high.... or more. Commercial and military Ships sunk in the harbor. I have so much respect for her.

Just last year a commercial vessel was lost near Haiti with all hands because the skipper ignored weather and his ship went down. There was plenty of warning. Storms have a nasty habit of spooling up, speeding up, stalling over a place and unleashing an ungodly amount of rain (New Orleans), breaking left when they historicallly break right... we joikingly say that is why hurricanes are named after women. They are unpredictable and given wide berth when their hair is up

It is smart of you to begin thinking about this element of sailing. I have been out in only 30 knots of wind on a 27 foot trimaran. The seas were only 6 foot. I was trying to get from Anacapa to Santa Rosa just north of it. A Santa Ana wind was building. It is an Easterly strong wind that can build to 60 knots and placed me on a 'Lee" shore where I was anchored. After sailing for over an hour my bearings showed I had made less than a mile of northing. I turned and ran to Ventura harbor. I was scared poopless. Trying to find the harbor entrance with shore lights can be confusin. I had a hand held gps. My girlfriend's eyes were panic stricken. She couldn't even hold the tiller.. she was basically frozen meat. Mother Nature allowed me to dodge that bullet. As I stood in the hot shower later at the marina I began to shake uncontrollably from that experience.

Every sailor on here will tell you of the vigilance required to stay alive. You can cost the life of others with poor planning, ineptitude, laziness, or just bad luck. In my situation it was a weather pattern that suddenly spooled up. Keep in mind that I was less than 13 miles from Ventura harbor. I chartered the 27 foot trimaran which is a sweet coastal speed machine. What could possibly go wrong?

When you have a building wind, waves are white capping, confusion, fear, and lack of experience... it is not... what can go wrong... but how will we survive this?
A storm on a small boat has caused many a coast guard around the world to scramble all of its sssests to save sailors "caught out".
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Old 13-07-2017, 15:06   #12
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Re: Storms and living aboard

Keep in mind that Hurricanes gain strength real fast over warm water.
Hurricane Apps follow them right from west coast Africa (Caribbean) and all over the world too.If you keep one eye on weather, you can get a 3 to 6 day jump easy. Which is plenty of time for Flight or Fight decisions.
If you get caught in a hurricane with todays weather gathering capabilities, then it's you're own fault. So don't get lazy about the weather. Stay on top of it . it takes a few minutes couple times a day. Cheers
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Old 13-07-2017, 15:25   #13
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Re: Storms and living aboard

Boats are meant to take a pounding.

People are not meant to take a pounding.

Secure the boat and leave to a safer location away from a storm surge.
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Old 13-07-2017, 16:25   #14
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Re: Storms and living aboard

Being caugth offshore in real hurricane most be a very scary experience that would instill the fear of god to any sane person. I was caught in a nasty winter norther in the Gulf Stream off the Bahamas Banks, and I hope to never get into that kind of trouble again. Nothing happened but it was something to remember!. That was just a 'normal' storm , I just can't imagine what it would be to get into a real hurricane. And there is no way to outrun such monsters... So stay to port, and check your insurances validity...
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Old 13-07-2017, 16:32   #15
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Re: Storms and living aboard

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Originally Posted by Papasail View Post
"Outrunning a storm": given some obvious lead-time, what speed does a boat need to carry to outrace the oncoming monster?
Per NOAA the average speed of hurricanes, depening significantly on their latitude, is between about 14 and 30 knots. So, "outrunning" one in a sailboat is a fools errand. Repositioning to a better loaction, days before the storm, is more viable.
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