With the arrival of several potentially dangerous named storms, beginning with Hurricane Florence this week, it is worth reminding all boat owners and cruisers to take precautions seriously. If you have never witnessed a hurricane, believe me, it is not a fun experience, and its sheer power is literally breathtaking. Hurricanes are awesome weather events. And even if you do everything possible to stay safe, there are no guarantees.
Veteran sailor and cruiser Pam Wall shares her knowledge about preparing for such a storm. While she wrote this for sailors, it fits trawler folks as well. Stay safe everyone.—BillP
How to Prepare Your Boat For a Hurricane
As I am constantly looking at the NOAA Hurricane Center website, the sick feeling in my stomach at the sight of a huge perfect eye of a hurricane reminds me of all the hurricanes we have lived through on our 39-foot sloop KANDARIK.
KANDARIK has weathered and survived, untouched, five major hurricanes, Bertha a Category 2, Dennis also a Category 2, and then the worst, Floyd a Category 5! These three hurricanes all passed right over us while in the Abacos, our favorite cruising grounds in the Bahamas. Many years later Thelma visited us, unexpectedly, and just last year Irma came calling and brushed way too close to KANDARIK.
As I see Florence bearing down on the Southeastern U.S., I know how so many are worried about their homes, their families, and their boats.
The way we have saved our boat comes from the experience of one hurricane, and then another, and culminating in the worst possible. What we learned from Bertha helped to save our boat in Dennis, and what we learned from Dennis I know for a fact saved our boat in Floyd. And years later in Thelma and Irma this list was invaluable in reminding us of what we needed to check off.
I am hoping these simple examples that list what we have done in the past will help you prepare your boat for a potential hurricane.
Here are the two lists that I sincerely hope will give you something to consider when getting your own boats prepared for the wrath of a hurricane.
WITH THE AID OF MODERN ELECTRONICS AND SATELLITE DATA, THE PRUDENT NAVIGATOR CAN USUALLY AVOID ENCOUNTERING A HURRICANE AT SEA. IN PORT THERE ARE A NUMBER OF MEASURES THAT CAN BE TAKEN TO SIGNIFICANTLY REDUCE THE LIKELIHOOD AND SEVERITY OF DAMAGE FROM A HURRICANE. BELOW ARE SOME OF THE STEPS I RECOMMEND:
-TAKE DOWN ALL SAILS, MAINSAIL, GENOAS, MIZZENS, ALL SAILS, FLAKE THEM AND STOW THEM BELOW DECK
-TAKE ALL BIMINI TOPS, AWNINGS, WEATHER CLOTHS, ETC. OFF THE FRAMES AND LASH THE FRAMES SECURELY
-TAKE ALL DOWNWIND POLES OFF THE MAST AND SECURE AS LOW ON DECK AS POSSIBLE
-TAPE THE SNAP SHACKLES FOR THE HALYARDS WITH DUCT TAPE OVER SOCKS, AND PULL TO TOP OF THE MAST (DON'T FORGET TO LEAVE ONE TO BE ABLE TO RETRIEVE THE REST!)
-LASH ALL THE HALYARD FALLS TO THE MAST. NOTHING SHOULD BE ABLE TO WIP IN THE WIND (AND IT WILL IF LEFT UNLASHED)
-TAKE ANY UNDEPLOYED ANCHORS OFF THE BOW WHERE CHAFE COULD OCCUR; LASH THE ANCHORS ON DECK WHERE THEY COULD EASILY BE DEPLOYED IF NEEDED DURING THE HURRICANE
-CAP ALL VENTILATORS
-STOW EVERYTHING ON DECK DOWN BELOW. IF IT CAN GET LOOSE ON DECK AND CAUSE DAMAGE, IT WILL!
-USE A COMBINATION OF CHAIN AT THE BOTTOM AND LINE TO THE BOAT FOR ANCHORS AND MOORING LINES. ALL CHAIN RODES DO NOT HAVE ENOUGH STRETCH BUT HAVE CHAFE RESISTANCE AND WEIGHT, AND ALL LINE RODES COULD CHAFE. MOORING WEIGHTS ARE A GREAT HELP AND MEGABRAID SEEMS TO HAVE THE BEST STRETCH AND CHAFE RESISTANT CAPABILITIES FOR THESE EXTREME CONDITIONS
-SECURE ALL LINES THROUGH SMOOTH CHOCKS, TO STRONG BACKED UP CLEATS, AND USE FAIR LEADS. HEAVY DUTY SNATCH BLOOKS ARE GREAT IF THE LEAD FROM YOUR CHOCK TO THE CLEAT IS NOT FAIR
-DO NOT RELY ON THE WINDLASS FOR SECURING ANCHORS ON CHAIN OR LINE, USE SNUBBERS.
-CHECK EVERY UNATTENDED BOAT AROUND YOU FOR SECURE MOORING AS THAT WILL BE YOUR GREATEST WORRY.
PRODUCTS I RECOMMEND TO HAVE ABOARD AT ALL TIMES
-GALVANIZED SHACKLES OF MANY SIZES, YOUR CHAIN SIZE AND LARGER, AND OF COURSE SEIZING WIRE
-EXTRA 50-FOOT LENGTHS OF CHAIN, THE SIZE YOU USE FOR YOUR ANCHORS AND LARGER
-EXTRA HEAVY DUTY NYLON LINE 3/4-INCH OR LARGER, PREFERABLY MEGABRAID, 100 AND 200--FOOT PIECES YOU WOULD HAVE THESE ALREADY IF GOING THROUGH THE PANAMA CANAL
-HEAVY DUTY GALVANIZED OR STAINLESS STEEL THIMBLES
-ASSORTED DIFFERENT SYTLE ANCHORS (AT LEAST THREE PLUS A LARGER STORM ANCHOR, LIKE A THREE-PIECE LUKE ANCHOR)
-JERRY CANS FOR EXTRA FUEL AND WATER
-LOTS OF LASHING LINES
-EXTRA FENDERS IF AT A DOCK, BUT YOU DO NOT WANT TO BE AT A DOCK!
-HANDHELD VHF, PREFERABLY THE KIND THAT CAN TAKE BATTERIES AND GOOD SUPPLY OF FRESH BATTERIES
-HANDHELD DEPTH SOUNDER FOR SOUNDING SECURE ANCHORAGES AS WELL AS WHAT IS AHEAD OF AND BEHIND YOUR BOAT
-RAW WATER STRAINERS FOR YOUR ENGINE THAT ARE EASY TO ACCESS AND CLEAN FOR THE UNUSUAL DEBRIS FILLED WATER FOLLOWING A HURRICANE
-SHEEPSFOOT KNIFE FOR FAST EASY CUTTING OF LINES TO BE KEPT IN COCKPIT READY TO USE
-SSB OR HAM RADIO AND/OR BATTERY POWERED AM/FM RADIO FOR LOCAL FORECASTS
-MASK, SNORKELS, FINS, AND IF POSSIBLE, FULL SCUBA TANK AND GEAR FOR SETTING ANCHORS AND SECURING MOORINGS UNDER THE WATER, AND FOR SEEING AND BREATHING ON DECK DURING THE HURRICANE
-GOOD RECORDING BAROMETER REALLY FUN TO SEE AFTER IT IS ALL OVER!!!
-LOTS OF TOWELS AND HEAVY DUTY CHAFE GEAR, AND CHAMOIX FOR WATER MOP UP BELOW DECK
-VENTILATOR CAPS FOR ALL VENTS AND DORADES
-DO I HAVE TO REMIND YOU GOOD SECURE DOGS FOR ALL HATCHES
-BIG ROLL OF DUCT TAPE
-EXTRA LONG ANCHOR SNUBBERS
-LOTS AND LOTS OF BATTERIES FOR FLASHLIGHTS, RADIOS, ETC, STOWED IN THEIR PACKAGES IN ZIP LOCK BAGS