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GreenSailor 04-12-2015 09:00 AM

Hurricane plan ICW
I will be on the ICW this summer from NY to South Georgia. Should be in The Chesapeake in early July and traveling south until November. My insurance company has asked for a plan if a named storm is announced. My question is what do I tell the insurance company and what can I do if this happens.

Capt.Bill11 04-12-2015 09:25 AM

I've had to write a number of these over the years. And they can be written in a very simple form.

You basically state that you will make every effort to move the boat out of the predicted impact zone of the storm well ahead of time. Barring that you will take every effort to find the most secure area to put the boat and then make it as secure as possible in that area.

You should make a simple list of steps you would take to secure the vessel. Say using extra lines, larger lines, taking down all canvas, lowering and securing your antennas, removing or tieing down all loose items, putting up solid covers over the windows, etc., etc. If you can tell them you've prearrange to be hauled out by a local yard in the event of the storm even better. At least on paper.

If any or all of that fails, you plan on calling them. :D

I've never had a plan rejected and I've found it best to keep it clear and simple.

O C Diver 04-12-2015 09:27 AM

One option is to haul out. A plan might be to locate a number of boat yards along your intended cruising route that can haul and secure your boat in the event of a storm. Being on land versus a protected anchorage isn't a guarantee of no damage, but many insurance companies prefer it. Some companies, depending on the policy, will reimburse some portion of the haul out.


Capt.Bill11 04-12-2015 09:47 AM

The haul out option in reality can be a tough one if you're traveling, for several reasons. Local boats tend to get priority, many yards require you to prepay or put down a deposit for a storm haul out, in some cases its first come first served, etc.

And as Ted mentioned, being on the hard is no guarantee your boat will not receive any damage. In some cases hauling out can be the worst option.

But it's just the luck of the draw many times as to what's best.

ksanders 04-12-2015 09:52 AM

I do not know this, never having been on the ICW so this is more a question than anything...

If you are full time cruising, couldn't you find a river nearby and move inland?

Are there enough rivers crossing that part of the ICW to make that viable?

Don't hurricanes reduce in intensity dramatically just a few miles inland, and if they do how many miles is generally considered safe?

Thanks from a west coaster

RT Firefly 04-12-2015 09:58 AM

Mr. GS. A former insurance company required a VERY specific hurricane plan. Must be on shore and must be at a pre-specified facility. I quizzed them on this and there was to be no deviation or we were not covered. It seems IF we were caught short and still made every effort to be secured, unless we followed the "plan" to the letter, we would not have coverage. That's why they are a former insurance company.
Our current company is of the opinion that if we make efforts to be safe, as outlined by Mr. 11 (post #2) we will be covered.

timjet 04-12-2015 10:07 AM

Being on the ICW last summer I gave some thought to how I would handle a hurricane. My insurance company didn't ask for a plan but I wanted to be prepared. Not knowing were I was going to be when I needed to hunker down made specific planning difficult.

One advantage of cruising the ICW in the summer is there are not a lot of boats taking up marina slips and the better anchorages. Most folks are in Florida by the start of the hurricane season so we had a lot of the ICW to ourselves. I had decided early on that when a hurricane was forecast for anywhere on the east coast we would early on head for a marina and secure a slip.
For the one hurricane that hit the coast last year in late June we stayed 11 days at a slip in Ft. Lauderdale until the coast was clear.

As mentioned above I wouldn't plan on getting hauled out unless you pre-payed, and how can you do that if you don't know where you'll be.

timjet 04-12-2015 10:17 AM


Originally Posted by ksanders (Post 324316)
If you are full time cruising, couldn't you find a river nearby and move inland?

Are there enough rivers crossing that part of the ICW to make that viable?

Don't hurricanes reduce in intensity dramatically just a few miles inland, and if they do how many miles is generally considered safe?

Thanks from a west coaster

With local knowledge some have used inland rivers successfully. However unless you know what you are doing, I wouldn't try this. Some logistics to consider, how are you going to get off the boat and back home after securing the boat way up river. Remember your full time cruising, no car available. And the best local hurricane holes will always have boats in them and you risk collision damage with a nearby boat.

Hurricane intensity does decrease inland but generally you can't get far enough inland to make a big difference.

Most boaters secure their boats with extra lines, decrease the windage as much as possible and keep the boat in their slip, hoping the tidal surge doesn't move their boat out of the slip.

hmason 04-12-2015 10:51 AM

Hurricanes are no longer sudden, unexpected occurrences. Although the track is not always predictable, you do have plenty of warning that a hurricane is developing. We then plan well in advance for a slip as far inland as we can find, a rental car and a hotel reservation.

Donsan 04-12-2015 11:20 AM


Originally Posted by hmason (Post 324347)
Hurricanes are no longer sudden, unexpected occurrences. Although the track is not always predictable, you do have plenty of warning that a hurricane is developing. We then plan well in advance for a slip as far inland as we can find, a rental car and a hotel reservation.

This is a misconception. It is true for most hurricanes that form down in Caribbean from disturbances coming off the Coast of Africa, however some tropical storms and hurricanes can form from disturbances off the coast of Florida or even Georgia providing little warning to local boaters.

Also, don't hang your hat on a storm not being powerful inland. In 2004, there were several hurricanes that battered inland Florida. Charlie, Francis, and Jean battered central Florida. The area I worked at in Orlando had half the power grid down for extended periods of time. Admittedly these were 100 year events but be prepared for anything.

hmason 04-12-2015 11:30 AM

I do the best I can to protect my boat, but then it's the Hampton Inn for me.

cardude01 04-12-2015 11:46 AM

This also interests me as I might be bringing my boat back to Texas from the west coast of Florida in mid June through mid July, and I wonder where I will run and hide on the ICW from say Pensacola to Houston if a storm enters the Gulf.

Off Duty 04-12-2015 12:05 PM

Donsan is right. A lot of people fled inland from the coastal areas, only to watch the storms follow them!

I was working for a P.D. that was just outside the crosshairs of those storms. We rendered mutual aid to those agencies as well as taking care of our own citizens. Blacked out and flooded roads for quite some time, and again, we were outside the primary impact zone.

And firefly made a great point!
The more detail and "required actions" an insurance company places on a policy holder, the more "loopholes" or ways out of paying claims you provide them.

Finally, while thinking hurricanes, don't forget the rare but still occurring "no name storms" that can creep in out of nowhere and wreak havoc on a boat at a marina.
Several years ago one of these popped into Pinellas County and did quite a bit of damage in a very short amount of time.


ulysses 04-12-2015 12:06 PM

Cardude01: There are numerous places to hunker down along that route. Best to run the way you are heading (west) if possible.

Larry M 04-12-2015 02:16 PM

Here's our hurricane plan that we have submitted and accepted by 3 different insurance companies through the years.

If we are in an area that is prone to hurricanes or cyclones:

We obtain our weather information from NOAA, Buoyweather (a fee subscription weather service), and local sources. NOAA and Buoyweather data are accessed daily using the SSB radio and pactor modem or via the internet. (We have email on the vessel.) We also obtain local forecasts daily via various cruiser SSB nets. We plot storm tracks onto onion skin overlays on local charts.

If we are unable to run and/or avoid a storm, vessel preparations would vary with location and would include (in order of preference): 1) Haulout in a secure boat yard and remove all exterior canvas and attachments. 2) Go far up a river and secure the boat with anchors and lines to shore. 3) Secure the boat in the most protected harbor or marina we can find.

psneeld 04-12-2015 03:20 PM

By far the biggest issue is just how powerful is the storm.

The farther north along the ICW, generally the better off you are with more warning and options.

There are enough rivers along the ICW that you can get far enough inland to get away from the surf zone which is the most destructive. Especially for Cat 1&2....above that and things get more complicated. At that point you have to get to an area of lesser wind as blowing debris even pretty far inland becomes a huge concern.

The big issue is finding enough terrain to keep you out of the hurricane force winds which do diminish quickly near terrain due to turbulence. After that, find a suitable place to tie off to that ultra high tides won't affect you or anchor which to me is a last resort.

Hurricanes, even the ones that form over top of you still give days of warning if you are paying attention to weather for a real weather site.

I weathered Sandy (barely Cat 1) in a great hurricane hole just 12 miles inland in a well protected hole and really never saw more than 1 foot waves and maybe 40 knot gusts.

I get beat up more at my marina during decent Nor'easters.

Off Duty 04-12-2015 03:22 PM

Simple...I like that.

FF 04-13-2015 06:49 AM

IF you decide to haul out check the elevation of the yard and be sure of at least 15 Ft above high tide.

If hiding inland chose a river with mud , not gravel on the banks, as its easier to have no damage if the anchor set lets go.

Be VERY wary of rivers as commercial barges and fuel deliveries may continue to operate even in weather you find extreme.

A Tie up shore to shore can be exciting.

Do let us know how the watch fob anchors do , should you be caught out.

ulysses 04-13-2015 07:42 AM

Ulysses was on the hard and finishing up a bottom job as Hurricane Frances approached. The yard began hauling out numerous vessels as part of the boat's prearranged "hurricane plans". I looked around and saw a steel scrap yard with tons of sheet metal piled 40 feet high on one side of the yard and a similar pile of wood braces, 2 x 4s, etc.. on the other side. I decided to go back into the water and seek a less dangerous location.
So check whatever yard you decided to haul out in for those type of dangers if you decide to haul out.
Personally I prefer being in the water. Safe drinking water supply, electric power source, beverages, and the boat floats no matter how high the surge is.

BandB 04-13-2015 11:04 AM

We live in Fort Lauderdale and a couple of notes about what our plan does and does not include.

Most importantly, it does not commit us to doing anything. Lives top property and we will not risk our lives or others to save a boat.

It says "We may consider" many times and "We may." But in bold lettering it makes it clear that we're not committing to doing anything in the plan. Now, our choices of things we'll consider include:
  1. Haul out if convenient and available.
  2. Moving boat inland or to more protected marina
  3. Securing boat where it is best as we can

But we make it clear that we may not even do anything at all as we could very well be busy removing ourselves from the path.

Just as an aside. We're just off the ICW (about 300') and contrary to popular belief not in an area that has experienced major storm surge or is even considered a top risk flood zone.

Just don't box yourself in with your plan. Don't use the words "We will" but use "we may consider". You can't know the circumstances and how things will develop. I love how there is a hurricane area still used by insurers and yet the only major hurricane damage in the last five years occurred well north of that area.

If your insurer expects some sort of commitment you're not comfortable with or wants to add some exclusion then the plan should be to get another insurer.

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