Hurricane experts predict that there will be more hurricanes over the next fifteen years than in the previous fifteen years. It is difficult for us sailors to change the climate, but we must be prepared. Planning the safe maintenance of your boat is almost like selling real estate - location, location, location. And also determining the sequence of necessary actions when a hurricane approaches.
Preparing a yacht for a hurricane
Where should your boat stand?
A safe marina may not be the most welcoming boat spot during a hurricane. There are several important rules. Does the marina manager have a developed course of action in the event of a hurricane. If there is no such plan, will you be required to leave the marina in the event of a hurricane? What are the physical parameters of the marina, what surrounds it and its layout, what design and construction at the piers and at the slipways are all important to ensure the safety of your yacht. In the end, your security efforts can be ruined by your neighbor's irresponsibility. If his boat is not securely anchored, it can cause damage to other boats standing nearby in the marina.
In case you are planning to leave your boat in the marina, you need to carefully study the features of your boat and slip in the marina and also the general layout of yachts on the water and on the shore. Some marinas require space on the slip before the storm approaches, others require you to leave the marina completely.
Rate the berths in the marina, how securely are the bollards anchored on them? How strong are piles? Does the physical condition of berths, piers, pontoons, piles and bollards allow them to withstand the incredible stresses that arise during hurricanes? A few years ago, one severe storm that flew through Sausalito, California, completely tore several lightweight fingers that fastened the pontoon branch to the shore and carried the entire branch along with all the yachts right into the San Francisco Bay. If your yacht remains docked during a hurricane, you need to radically rethink the way you dock. You need to place the yacht with its bow to open water if possible (this statement is true in most cases)
If such placement of the boat is not possible, try to turn it with the bow to the side that is most protected from wind and waves. Unlike an anchored boat, a boat that is in the marina at the berth cannot change its position in the event of a sudden change in the direction of the wind and waves. In this case, you need to provide additional length of mooring lines, the longer the better, in order to deal with the likely storm surges. In accordance with good maritime practice, storm lines should be at least as large as the length of the boat. A team of journalists who describe the aftermath of the natural disasters in BOAT / US magazine claim that at least 50 %s out of the many thousands of boats damaged by Hurricane Andrew could only have been saved through better mooring arrangements and stronger mooring lines.
The use of longer ends entails the use of foreign piles and bollards from other yachts, but it is worth it. The ends can go through aisles in the marina crossing the direction of movement of the boats in order to anchor the yacht to remote piles or anchors. These measures require additional planning and coordination with the management of the marina and with the owners of neighboring yachts. When you are done securing the yacht before the hurricane, it should resemble a spider in the center of its web. Your efforts should be directed towards preventing horizontal movement of the yacht and at the same time, the yacht should be able to move up and down on stormy waves. You must attach the mooring lines to the pile in such a way that the yacht does not sit on top of the pile because of the end that came off it. In some cases, piers, pontoons, bollards can completely go under water. Floating pontoons can be removed from piles by waves and carried out to sea. Many marinas are protected from waves by high breakwaters and breakwaters, sometimes so that they go completely under the water and the protected marina turns into an open sea, through which huge waves pass one by one.
Canals, rivers, and other waterways are generally better alternatives than a marina, but in many cases the same problems arise. Each of the situations requires a different approach.
In the channel, it is necessary, if possible, to stand along the centerline, leading the mooring lines like a spider to both banks as far as possible from the entrance to the channel from the sea, in this case your boat will be better protected and you will not block the entrance for other yachts. In wide canals and waterways, you should try to fix the boat for something reliable - for example, a tree, a reliable pile or anchor. The more mooring and reliable anchors, the better. Again, the longer the end, the better.
One good solution would be to use pre-prepared mooring chains. If one end of the mooring line is fixed to a tongue, pile or tree on the shore and the other to a heavy eye at the end of the chain, then do the same from the side of the boat and securely fasten the mooring end to the cleat on the deck or bollard, and do this from all sides, heavy the chain in the middle will allow you to reliably adjust the tension of the mooring line from the boat and will provide an even tension of the mooring lines on all sides, as a result the boat will not move excessively in any direction and will not collide with other objects on the water, neighboring boats or the shore.
The wind current tries to lift the chain all the time, with any change in wind speed, the chain plays back, thereby holding the boat in place. The same happens during excitement, the chains with my weight hold the boat in place every time playing on the waves if additional weight is evenly added to the chains in the form of lead ingots or pancakes from a barbell or dumbbells, the efficiency of the entire system will increase.
Being in the middle of a hurricane is also a pretty good alternative to a crowded marina. Usually. there are no waves and protection from the wind can be provided by tall trees, buildings and structures on the shore, you can also firmly attach to them with mooring lines.
Strong mooring lines and a secure anchor in a sheltered harbor are very good alternatives to anchorage in a crowded marina or canal. An anchored boat can move freely in a circle following the direction of the wind and will not hit the shore or pier, unless the anchor crawls along the bottom or the anchor chain breaks off.
In this case, several questions arise: how strong must the anchor chain be in order to withstand a hurricane, the second question is the depth in the harbor and the characteristics of the bottom. It is also important to consider the proximity of other yachts and their location.
Comparative tests of various anchors on various types of bottom were carried out by experts from West Marine, BOAT U./S., Several anchor manufacturers and the Cruising World magazine (in April 1996). Tests showed that plow anchors from manufacturers such as Bruce, The CQR and Danforth all buried themselves under load. Mushroom anchors and dead anchors drifted even under light loads. The anchor mushroom could not bury itself in the bottom and practically did not have any holding force. During the storm of the century in 1993, which swept at 90 knots over my anchorage in Key Largo, Florida, a 40-foot yacht pulled 69 meters down a dead anchor in the form of a concrete slab 10 feet by 10 feet and 12 inches thick (roughly three by three meters and 30 centimeters thick). It is very effective to anchor three anchors with heavy swivels, which are spaced 120 degrees to the sides of the yacht, such a scheme was one of the few that successfully withstood the onslaught of Hurricane Bob.
When preparing for a hurricane, it is important to understand that everything you do must be designed for waves that can be 10 times larger than normal. The bow end and anchor chain should be twice as thick as what you normally use. Use mooring lines and chains of a larger section, if you have a long anchor chain, you need to make a shock-absorbing insert about a tenth of the chain's length, this is necessary so that the chain goes into the water at a lower angle and experiences less stress and jerks under load.
Keep in mind that larger lines and chains take up more space on board.
It is also important to know what your depth and bottom surface are. Typically, depth can vary dramatically before and after a storm. It is also necessary to take into account the possible amplitude of storm waves. It is necessary to understand that with a minimum draft, your boat will land on the bottom only because the wind can blow all the water out of the harbor. It is also important to know if there are rocks at the bottom below you. Your boat may not survive the storm just because it will be torn to pieces by an underwater rock.
Check the holding characteristics of the bottom. Tests of anchors have shown that hard sand has the best holding properties, followed by soft sand, clay, silt, shells and soft silt, in this order of decreasing. Keep in mind that the burrowing anchor itself can burrow so well that you won't be able to pull it out after a storm.
There is also such a very good alternative as keeping your boat on the shore. Research carried out by insurers (MIT) after Hurricane Gloria showed that those yachts that were stored ashore were much less affected than those that were on the water. For many boat owners, transporting them to a safe location is the best hurricane escape plan.
Boats that are stored onshore must be located above the level of possible exposure to storm waves, this requirement is not always easy to fulfill, because most marinas and shipyards are located directly at the existing water level. However, this study showed that those boats that were securely anchored on keelblocks survived the storm much better than those that were on the water. If you are pulling the boat ashore, make sure that the boat is additionally secured with struts and stops. Add extra spacers or pieces of plywood between the cabinet and the struts to distribute the weight evenly.
Secure the props. Some small boats can be put directly on board so that they are not blown away by the wind and washed away from the keelblocks by the wave.
How to secure your yacht
No matter where you decide to store your yacht - in the marina, near the dock, in the canal, right in the middle of the hurricane's eye, and at anchor - there are several important points you need to consider: scuffs, chips and resistance to the surface of the yacht. The hurricane force wind creates an incredible load on the mast. The strength of the wind and possible destruction are growing exponentially. For example, a wind speed of 20 knots produces a pressure of 1.3 pounds per square foot, and when the wind speed doubles to 40 knots, the pressure per square foot quadruples to 5.2 pounds.
Mooring lines wear protection is absolutely essential wherever there is a risk that the line will be frayed, no matter where you store your boat. The ends without protection are frayed and torn in a few minutes under the influence of the incredible loads that the hurricane force wind creates. A yacht that is moored to a berth is most at risk because it is usually anchored with only two ends, imagine an incredible load applied to only two mooring ends.
Depending on the size of your yacht, waves can increase the load by another half of the above values. The same forces and loads are transferred to the berth, make sure that all the loops on the bollards on the berth are also protected from chafing where they rub against the edge.
Nylon ends have a well-known tendency to stretch under load. If friction is added to the pull, the temperature inside the fibers can increase so much that the end does not fray, but melts. The heat generated from friction accelerates the rupture process. The usual protection of mooring lines against chafing becomes completely unusable in a hurricane. The protection should be thicker and longer. Due to the fact that you have to use longer mooring lines, they can stretch much more than usual. You can make good protection yourself using a thick canvas or tarp, rubber or neoprene hoses are not good, they generate heat when rubbed and can melt the rope. In case you plan to increase protection, make a second layer on top of the first. A durable canvas can be found from local industrial suppliers.
Also contact your local fire department, from time to time they write off old fire hoses that can be turned into high quality protective covers that do not wear out. They must be carefully tied or stitched around the mooring lines. The ends should also be larger in diameter in order to withstand the hurricane. In general, for yachts up to 25 feet, you need a half-inch end diameter, for a 25 to 34 feet yacht, the end diameter should be 5/8 and for larger yachts, the end diameter should be ¾ to one inch. If in doubt, feel free to double the thickness for critical ends. Provide protection for all ends that can rub in half-hooks or on different ledges, on piles, around the tree trunk.
A larger number of larger diameter ends may require additional wefts or bollards on deck, this must be foreseen. Larger ducks need to be reinforced under deck with an additional slab if not already done. A duck without such reinforcement during a hurricane can come off along with the part of the deck to which it is attached. The reinforcement plate must be made of stainless steel of sufficient thickness and size. Make sure to use the largest cleft or cleft bolts, for more strength the cleft should be secured with four bolts. Do not overload them, you can have two ends per duck, if your mooring scheme provides for more ends per duck, add them in advance. Check the windlass attachment, it must be securely fastened and reinforced below deck.
If your mast rests against the keel with a spur, it can also be used to fasten the mooring lines, but the mooring end does not need to be passed through the hawse, it is better not to overload the end with additional friction points.
Reducing wind resistance
Remove everything that is unnecessary to reduce the area that is affected by the wind. Folding tables, antennas, spare anchors that are stored on the deck, sails, running rigging, boom, inflatable boat, etc. In addition to reducing the area to resist wind and reducing weight, you eliminate the possibility that all of this will be blown away or damaged by the wind. Remove the headsails, even if the staysail is twisted with a twist anyway, it creates quite a lot of wind resistance and a lot of load on the stay. Despite all your efforts to secure the spin during a hurricane, the wind can spin the sail with all the ensuing disastrous consequences. Secure the halyards so that they do not overlap or dangle in the wind. One good way to reduce the effect of wind on the halyards is to tie all the halyards with a single conductor and raise the entire bundle of halyards to the top of the mast, so instead of three or four ropes, you have to wind up with just one tie that conductor around the fence.
Preventing water damage
Rain streams during a hurricane can be directed in any direction, even upward. Remove all ventilation fungi and close the ducts with flaps and seal everything with tape. Check for clogging in the locker and cockpit scuppers. Close all outboard openings, just not those that are needed to pump water overboard. It is also necessary to close all openings that are not used with plugs, including the opening for the exhaust gas of the engine, in order to prevent water from entering the engine through the exhaust pipe.
Deck drain openings and toilet drain openings that are near the waterline must also be closed, because water can go inside the hull when waves and wind put the yacht on board. Cover all the fixtures on the deck with pre-cut pieces of plywood and wrap the plywood well with duct tape. Check all hatches, covers, coamings, cabinets for leaks. Cover everything with duct tape. Put all magazines, catalogs, books on the upper shelves so that they do not get wet if water gets into the salon. Wet paper can turn into a thin gruel, which, getting into the bilge pump, clogs it tightly. Make two lists, one should contain everything that you clean and take from the boat to a safe place before a hurricane, the second list should contain everything that you plan to take on the boat to prepare for the fight against the elements. Electronics do not like water, if it can be quickly removed from the boat do so and all clothing and other personal items. It is also imperative to remove the outboard motor, gas canister, gas cylinder, ship documents and personal documents, in general, everything that is of value to you from the boat.
What to bring to the boat
The list of what you need to bring on the boat should include everything that you have specially prepared to deal with the hurricane in advance. Anything from this list can be stored ashore as a separate hurricane control kit. A well-prepared list will provide you with everything you need without being overlooked or forgotten. This can be additional ropes, protection against abrasion, fenders, anchors, swivels, staples, tape, plugs, in general, everything that you prepared for yourself in advance, including an inflatable boat that you need to get ashore after you have prepared your boat. Charge the battery on board, if necessary, supply an additional battery to provide additional backup.
Moving your boat before the storm
If you are planning to ferry a boat before a hurricane, I advise you to make a test trip, check how long it will take in calm conditions, and at the same time find out what difficulties you may have in the event of a real hurricane approach. Will you meet bridges along the way? In many places, it is forbidden to raise drawbridges; before a hurricane, they must be securely fixed in the lowered position. If your boat can be transported by trailer away from the hurricane area, do so early. In many territorial entities, it is forbidden to transport anything on a trailer after the danger of an approaching hurricane is declared. At the beginning of the season, check your trailer and fix the defects. Make your mooring plan during your test trip. Write down any additional equipment you need.
Timing is everything
Much of what is listed above requires a sufficient amount of preparation time, much more than a hurricane takes to reach your area. The candles will burn out quickly at the first sign of a hurricane. After you have drawn up your rescue plan, buy and prepare what you need.
Run faster in the end. Sitting back and waiting for the storm to come will bring trouble on yourself. A storm warning is issued 24 hours before a consistently strong wind, with a speed of more than 64 knots, is to be blown. You have two options - either preparing your boat for a hurricane or evacuating to a calm place is the most important thing in keeping your boat safe. The wind increases very quickly. It is very difficult to prepare a boat for a hurricane at a wind speed of 35 knots, and it is no longer possible to do it at a wind speed of 45 knots.
A hurricane warning appears 36 hours before a possible hurricane occurs in a specific area. Immediately after that, all drawbridges can be blocked, so you may be faced with the fact that you will not be able to go to a safe place, or with the fact that all free places in the safe channels will already be occupied by other boats. Begin your movement when you realize that a hurricane warning will be announced soon. Don't count on help from emergency services. Many port rescue services and similar services in marinas hide their craft or take them ashore immediately after a storm hazard or hurricane occurs. After all the preparations on your boat, check everything again. Disconnect all electrical consumers on board, except for the bilge pump. Check its performance and cleanliness of the water intake. Don't stay on the boat during a hurricane. Half of all hurricane fatalities are due to boat owners trying to save their property in deteriorating conditions. Develop a well-thought-out hurricane escape plan, be ready to implement it in the shortest possible time, and leave the boat and leave it alone to survive. There is absolutely nothing you can do when the hurricane force of the wind begins to roar through the deck with a roar.
It has been decades since William Redfield accidentally discovered tropical storms circling around. Cirrus clouds have long been described by the holy father Benito Venis, these clouds still float across the clear blue tropical sky just before the arrival of the hurricane. This traditional weather forecasting system has long been replaced by weather satellites and advanced weather forecasting computers. Today, scientists can predict, with reasonable accuracy, the number of hurricanes that may occur in the coming season. Keen electronic eyes constantly track the chaotic movements of air masses over the vast oceans feeding them.
But all efforts to scientifically predict the movement of air masses and their intensity at each individual site are still not accurate enough. Prominent meteorologist Vilhelm Bjerknes describes the current state of affairs in predicting the occurrence of hurricanes as follows: “We are in the position of a physicist observing a pot in which water is boiling. He understands well all the processes of energy transformation, molecular kinetics and thermodynamics that are behind it all. He can describe these processes in the form of mathematical formulas and tell you how much heat is needed in order to boil a certain amount of water. Now ask him to predict exactly where the next bubble will form. "
A complete guide to anchoring and berthing. Complete Book Of Anchoring And Mooring, Second edition, Earl Hinz (Cornell Maritime Press)
A guide to preparing boats and marinas for a hurricane. A Guide To Preparing Boats And Marinas For Hurricanes
Preparing your boat for a hurricane. Preparing Your Boat For A Hurricane, Sea Grant College of the state University of Florida
Author of the publication: Ed Eisenberger Is an independent yacht electronics consultant and electronics specialist for the Western Marina in Key Largo, Florida. He lives and cruises on his 41 foot sailing yacht, the Wandering Star, from which he constantly monitors the weather.
A source: Cruising world
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