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Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Readers Ask Part 2

Doozie asks "are you on crack? What about storms".


Yes, this is a concern. A pretty big one in fact.

But believe it or not I have researched this aspect of a life at sea, as well as many other aspects.

Now in an ideal world I would just set sail to Canada on the first day of hurricane season. Maybe even head east once off the coast of Newfoundland and visit Iceland. Conversely I could set sail around Florida, head into the Gulf Of Mexico, then to the mouth of the Mississippi River. From there it is a clear shot to Chicago and then into the Great Lakes. Which eventually leads you to the Hudson River.

But who can do this? It requires being gone for months at a time. This of course means you have to accumulate a large enough amount of money that having to work is not a problem.

So that is out. I can't just pull up the anchor and skip town.

So all is lost, right? Not exactly. You have other options.

Probably the best option is to hide out in a hurricane hole. This is a somewhat protected area where you can lay out your storm anchor(s), secure the boat as best you can, and then leave for dry land. Up to a cat 3 storm this is a good option. Better than securing in place at a marina or well used anchorage.

The problem with a marina or anchorage is that invariably, someone fails to take the proper actions to secure their property. So you go out there, lay out your storm lines, take action to prevent the lines from chafing and breaking, deploy extra fenders, and so on.

But then because some jackass in the other slip did nothing, their boat breaks loose, slams into yours, and then your boat sinks in place. Or suffers major damage.

Oh yea - DO NOT TIE THE LINES TIGHT! Remember - if there is to be a 5 foot storm surge the boat needs at least 5 feet of slack in the lines so it can keep floating.

At an anchorage, the problem is compounded. Many marinas require boats to have a storm plan on file. And if you do not take action to secure your property - they will take action for you. And charge you accordingly. But at an anchorage this is not always the case. Some boats may even be abandoned. Left there to fend for themselves. So they will break loose from the moorings and then hit you.

A good hurricane hole is away from other things, yet sheltered. Ideally you have a place where you can make a spider web of lines, secured to things that are likely to still be there after the storm. Really good places are far up canals - but these holes are hard to come by.

So you have to hunt for your hole. Well before hand.

If you are not going to be able to tie off to things, you will need storm anchors. As in more than one. A popular storm anchor configuration is three heavy anchors, your main anchor off the bow as you would do normally (only using a heavier anchor) with two more set off of the main anchor at a 45 degree angle. For a small storm (cat 1 or 2) you may not need to put out three anchors, but it would not hurt.

You need a lot of scope here. The more the better. The ground tackle for the anchors should be all chain. At least 200 or so feet of the stuff. Some say it is OK to make the last 50 feet or so of the system be heavy nylon line, as it acts as a sort of shock absorber - some say forget that mess and go all chain.

Another option is to haul the boat out, and secure it on dry land. You really have to make arrangements for this. You will need to have a contract with a haul out marina that clearly says they will haul you out during a storm watch. If you plan to move the boat inland, you will need a similar contract with a trucking company, not to mention a deal with someone who owns the land you plan to secure the boat at.

All this sounds like a lot of hassle. And it is really. But storms to not come around every year. The odds of a major hurricane (cat 4 or 5) are a lot slimmer than the odds of a minor hurricane (cat 1 or weak 2). Tropical storms and lower are not really a huge problem.

And then again - a concrete block house faces the same problems. You have to secure those too. You need shutters over the windows and all that shit. You could loose the roof. And so on.

Hurricanes are bad news no matter what. No structure can be considered "hurricane proof". A house stands a better chance than a boat - but at least a boat CAN move.

Lastly, I would carry insurance. Of course. And I would not stay on board for something nasty. I would take whatever action I could - given time constraints and whatnot - then get out. Taking with me as much as I could. As soon as the winds calmed down I would return.

Life is all about balancing perceived risk with expected return. Boats do survive storms. It all depends on the size of the storm, where you decide to put the boat, how you secure it, and luck.


Blogger Fuzz said...

I guess "Riding it out at sea" is not a good option.

Blogger The Lazy Iguana said...

Not unless you are on a very large ocean going ship - and could not steer a course clear of the storm.

Blogger M@ said...

I bet the insurance is expensive!

Blogger The Lazy Iguana said...

M@ - It all depends on your insured amount. Depending on your situation, the insurance company may demand you provide a written hurricane plan. And you have to provide proof that you took "reasonable measures" to secure your property on demand. This means you need to take a lot of photos and even some video. If you do nothing then file a claim, your claim can be thrown out. Of course I would take all possible reasonable measures.

Property insurance is expensive here no matter what. Car insurance is high, homeowners insurance is high, and so on. Everything is high EXCEPT ME as I may have to piss in a cup at any moment. It is not fair at all.

Blogger Lily Strange said...

I reckon that armed with that information you would be safer than someone living in a mobile home in Tornado Alley!
I do live in a mobile home, but not in Tornado Alley. We do get tornados in Colorado--fortunately usually out on the plains. Which is, foolishly, where the airport was built. Go figure the intelligence of that.


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