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Old 06-10-2018, 03:22 PM   #1
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Hurricane Safety

I'm asking a question that has so many variables that a definitive answer is likely impossible. I would however like the thinking of the group.

We are spending our first hurricane season as liveaboards in Florida. Should there be a hurricane targeting us we have no intention of staying aboard however we would like to protect the boat as well as possible. I've already decided not to haul the boat. I have seen scenarios where hauled boats have sustained significant damage while boats in the water did better. I've made that decision so let's not debate that.

The marina we are at was destroyed by a hurricane (Irene?) a number of years ago and has been rebuilt to very strong standards. We are at a floating dock anchored by steel pilings. All the floating docks are behind a seawall. The dock system is designed so that extra cleats are easily added at virtually any position to accommodate storm lines. The location is 5-miles up the St. Lucie River which is part of the Okeechobee Waterway. Storm surge is certainly possible but the likelihood of the docks riding over the pilings is quite small.

The marina also has a mooring field. The moorings are of helix design and are inspected annually. Although there are some boats in the mooring field during the summer season it is by no means crowded or near capacity. I have read that helix moorings when properly installed and inspected are extremely rugged.

OK, here's the question TF'ers: Which do you think would be the safest--dock or mooring?
Thanks, Howard
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Old 06-10-2018, 03:35 PM   #2
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I would say the dock.


You will be using multiple lines and cleats on the dock. With a mooring ball, you have a single point of failure and the boat will be bouncing hard like it was on anchor. A snubber won't help much in a cane. I used to live on the Indian River and literally saw boats that had broken loose float down the river to end on on the rocks for a bridge.
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Old 06-10-2018, 03:36 PM   #3
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Dock would be my first choice. More than 1 attachment point, boats can't drag down on you and you're behind a seawall.
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Old 06-10-2018, 03:41 PM   #4
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If I could get on a mooring for a vessel significantly larger than mine, that would be my first choice. Having been on a mooring at your marina, I would feel comfortable with twin 1" lines with chafing gear securing your boat to the mooring pendant. I don't like being side tied to a dock in a really bad blow. In an over size slip with big pilings all around would be different.

From everything I've read, it seems it's as much about the risk from other boats around you breaking loose. Depending on the wind direction, your side tie spot might be more protected from other boats and floating debris.

Pros and cons to both.

I might be tempted to tie between the dolphins above the St. Lucie lock.

Ted
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Old 06-10-2018, 03:49 PM   #5
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Ted,
If there were a storm I would move into a slip rather than a side tie. Does this change your opinion?
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Old 06-10-2018, 04:01 PM   #6
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There is no right answer to this. You either get lucky or you don't.
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Old 06-10-2018, 09:06 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hmason View Post
Ted,
If there were a storm I would move into a slip rather than a side tie. Does this change your opinion?
If you can get an oversized slip, I might be inclined to go that way. Consider the following:

When Ocean city, MD gets a hurricane, many of the sport fish get hauled as part of the insurance plan. So I usually move my charter boat (35') into a 60 to 70' slip. The issues with my normal slip are high tide rise or fall and ample room to stretch the dock lines without rubbing pilings. Normally the big slip gives me 8 to 10' on both sides to the pilings and 15' in front and behind. With the dock lines being really long, there's lots of stretch to avoid shock loading and plenty of line to allow for extreme tidal change. Also, the pilings in the bigger slips are much more stout. This arrangement has worked well 3 or 4 times in the last 20 years.

Before you commit to the slip plan, see how big a slip you can get. If you're leaving the boat, getting the lines right to eliminate piling rash and still have ample slack for a large tide range, could be tricky.

Ted
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Old 06-10-2018, 09:10 PM   #8
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Come up here, we don't have hurricane! Ok I must admit we have cold and snow during 6 months but hey you cannot have everything.

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Old 06-10-2018, 09:52 PM   #9
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You will need to be centered in your slip if that possible, the bigger the slip the better.Lines tied to strong pilings and cleats. Tight enough to hold boat ,but long enough to ride with tide and surge. Figure want you need to do and ask dockmaster for advice. Get your lines now ,figure where and how they will work. Try getting them from 2nd hand marine stores,Sailorman here in Ft. Lauderdale. Protect your boat from others as they cause more damage ,than the stroms.Review your insurance ,and ask questions, know your policy,take pictures of boat before, tied up, and after strom. As far as using a mooring,I would not. Most of the boats on a boot key mooring in the keys, were taken out by other boats and the dink dock from the city marina. Many still had mooring line tied on, other lost cheats,simson poles or lines broke. Surge took many, you should be good that far up river. Good luck.
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Old 06-10-2018, 10:28 PM   #10
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I would recommend a dock in Michigan.
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Old 06-10-2018, 10:32 PM   #11
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Five miles up river, in a new marina with floating docks on tall pilings, Id be inclined to stay in a slip.

Tie the boat in the middle, double lines and porous chafe guards. Porous chafe guards are important to keep the line wet. As the lines stretch and recover they can generate internal heat and wear. Keeping the line wet helps prevent this.

Remove all canvas. No matter how tight you lash it, the canvas will get loose and be destroyed.

All bilge pumps working on automatic and batteries fully charged. I like to leave the boat plugged into the dock so that the battery charger supplies power to the pumps as long as possible before the batteries have to take over.
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Old 06-11-2018, 12:11 AM   #12
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Dock slip.

And your biggest risk in one is the boats on moorings.
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Old 06-11-2018, 05:17 AM   #13
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If you are out cruising, you should have almost a week of warning the breeze is coming.

A smaller river that is inland 5-10 miles may not have a surge problem , no extra 10-12 ft of water.

Anchoring with multiple anchors takes time , and is sometimes difficult to not block the waterway.

But of the river bottom is sand , or stiff enough it does work.

Select a shore that will not damage the boat , should the anchoring not be successful, enough.


Chafe is the biggest on board worry during the blow..
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Old 06-11-2018, 06:30 AM   #14
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Make sure the marina won't kick you out. Some don't like anyone in there during a storm. Also, check what your insurance would have you do. You definitely want them happy.

Otherwise, another vote for s staying in the marina
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Old 06-11-2018, 06:45 AM   #15
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Add me to the slip contingent. Make sure you tie mostly (if not completely) to the piles and not the floating docks.
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Old 06-11-2018, 06:57 AM   #16
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Dock. I went through a couple hurricanes on a floating dock and never even lost power although I was without power for 11 days at my brick and mortar house. Go figure.
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Old 06-11-2018, 07:08 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom.B View Post
Add me to the slip contingent. Make sure you tie mostly (if not completely) to the piles and not the floating docks.
I think a lot depends on the how the docks are constructed. When Irma went through, we were tied to 10 year old Bellingham floating docks. Given the flooding we had, I’m glad we were not tied to the piles. The blue tape is what the docks floated up to.

Edit. I added not .
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Old 06-11-2018, 07:19 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gabe n Em View Post
Make sure the marina won't kick you out. Some don't like anyone in there during a storm. Also, check what your insurance would have you do. You definitely want them happy.

Otherwise, another vote for s staying in the marina
Illegal in FL for the marina to kick you out.
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Old 06-11-2018, 07:20 AM   #19
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Well and properly built floating docks have had a very good rate of success.
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Old 06-11-2018, 07:38 AM   #20
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You already made a bad decision; there is a reason insurance companies pay to have you haul the boat. There are good marinas up the Okeechobee to do that in. Having made that decision, not to haul and/or move the boat inland, consult the marina and your fellow dock mates and develop a community plan.
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