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Old 07-27-2020, 09:42 AM   #1
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Hurricane concerns

How much of a concern are hurricanes to east coast boaters? We live in the mountains of NH so they aren't currently on our radar.

As we think about our plans though we will likely be cruising from New England to the Bahamas from late sept to November. Should a hurricane hit, we won't have a home marina to run for to secure our boat.

My attitude is "that's why we have insurance." We will do what we can while prioritizing life safety. Possessions can be replaced. It seems like one always has a least a few days notice of hurricanes so its easy to get the people (but maybe not the boat) out of harms way.

My wife doesn't so much agree with that sentiment. This is something that is very concerning to her.

Mind you she prefers the idea of not taking a boat north each year. She'd rather see it left somewhere in Georgia or Florida. This also works into her "6 months a year in a house - 6 months a year on a boat" strategy. Personally I'd rather be permanently on a boat but I've already agree to keep a dirt house.

Thoughts?
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Old 07-27-2020, 09:59 AM   #2
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First off, as you said, hurricanes do not just pop up out of nowhere. You pretty much always have enough time to evacuate, if you want to.

Also, there are some areas that get hit a lot, and some that get hit very rarely. Here in the Tampa area, we hardly ever get hit. North from here up to the Big Bend area of Florida is pretty much the same. Once you get to the panhandle, the odds go up.

On the east coast the most vulnerable area is south of Cape Canaveral. North of there the odds go down until they are the lowest around Jacksonville. Get north of about Brunswick GA and they start going up again.

Look at a map and all of this makes sense. The Cape tends to kind of kick hurricanes out further to sea. They follow the Gulf Stream north, which is pretty far out east of Jax. But then the coastline bulges out again and becomes more vulnerable.

All that said, hurricanes happen. The odds are lower here in Tampa than they are in Miami, but we still get hit now and then, so you need to have a plan. If you are counting on insurance, you need to be certain that your policy will cover you for a named storm, and understand any conditions that it requires in that case.

If you were more specific about what it is that concerns your wife, the answers you get would probably be more specific. Good luck, in any case.
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Old 07-27-2020, 10:12 AM   #3
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And the later you wait, ie late Sep or Oct, the chances of a hurricane go down greatly.
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Old 07-27-2020, 10:27 AM   #4
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Old 07-27-2020, 10:29 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by GraniteStater View Post
How much of a concern are hurricanes to east coast boaters? We live in the mountains of NH so they aren't currently on our radar.



As we think about our plans though we will likely be cruising from New England to the Bahamas from late sept to November. Should a hurricane hit, we won't have a home marina to run for to secure our boat.



My attitude is "that's why we have insurance." We will do what we can while prioritizing life safety. Possessions can be replaced. It seems like one always has a least a few days notice of hurricanes so its easy to get the people (but maybe not the boat) out of harms way.



My wife doesn't so much agree with that sentiment. This is something that is very concerning to her.



Mind you she prefers the idea of not taking a boat north each year. She'd rather see it left somewhere in Georgia or Florida. This also works into her "6 months a year in a house - 6 months a year on a boat" strategy. Personally I'd rather be permanently on a boat but I've already agree to keep a dirt house.



Thoughts?

Just in case you were thinking about it, itís not as easy as ďthatís what insurance is forĒ when you leave your boat in a place like the Bahamas. I left my boat on Green Turtle Cay last year after we cruised there for the summer and had some mechanical problems. I could have brought the boat back to the states after our cruise (and should have obviously), but the generator wasnít working so I couldnít run the AC, plus we had some other commitments we wanted to get back for quickly, plus we talked to some locals who gave us a false sense of security, so we left her there. Part of my calculation was, if it all goes to hell, I have insurance!

As you probably know, Dorian ripped through the Abacos and did tremendous damage to many of the islands in that chain, including Green Turtle. This began my long, stressful slog of post boat worrying after a hurricane. First of all, I couldnít go check on the boat for about a month because the airport was blown away and the government didnít want any extra people on the island. So I sat and waited, not knowing the condition of my boat. I had insurance, but the adjusters couldnít get there either so it was an agonizing wait to find out the status. Once I found out the status, then I had to figure out a way to get to the island with no working airport and somehow get my damaged boat back. Long story short, just because you have insurance, if you leave your boat in a remote location (especially in a different country) itís much more difficult to handle things when they go sideways.
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Old 07-27-2020, 10:30 AM   #6
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Are you considering leaving in FL/GA for the other 10 months of the year? If so, consider renting. Also, if you plan on driving/flying down buying groceries and casting off without having looked at the boat for 10 months (assuming it's still afloat), LOTS of deferred maintenance will probably be needing done before you can depart . . .
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Old 07-27-2020, 10:30 AM   #7
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And the later you wait, ie late Sep or Oct, the chances of a hurricane go down greatly.

Chance go down in September? Thatís the month with the MOST hurricanes, followed by August and October.
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Old 07-27-2020, 10:51 AM   #8
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Typically LATE Sep is when things start settling down. I know Sep can be bad - lived through Camille in late 60's and Katrina recently. Look at the chart posted above - by late Oct the chance of one is pretty small. We won't be heading south til Oct.
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Old 07-27-2020, 10:59 AM   #9
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Typically LATE Sep is when things start settling down. I know Sep can be bad - lived through Camille in late 60's and Katrina recently. Look at the chart posted above - by late Oct the chance of one is pretty small. We won't be heading south til Oct.

Oh Ok. Gotcha.
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Old 07-27-2020, 11:06 AM   #10
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I lived in FL 35 years. I'd say that people who aren't sure change their mind after living through one. Insurance may replace your boat but being stuck for days, weeks or months without water and electric, food, medicine changes everyone's mind. I remember seeing Homested FL a month after Hurricane Andrew. It looked like a bomb flattened everything as far as the eye could see from I95. Ask the people of New Orleans. Just not worth the risk
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Old 07-27-2020, 11:40 AM   #11
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There's so much great cruising to be done in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast during the hurricane season, why have a boat and miss out on that?

And look at that chart again: October is as bad or often worse than July and August. Here in hurricane country, the last few years the most damaging storms have been in the September-October time frame.
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Old 07-27-2020, 11:49 AM   #12
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The second chart I posted was to show the Atlantic coast tend to get the later hurricanes, the gulf gets the earlier ones.

Has to do with the seasonal blocking high and the stronger troughs/ fronts later in the year.

All the charts can be found on the " track the tropics" web site.
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Old 07-27-2020, 11:51 AM   #13
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Sandy comes to mind as a late season wide-spread disaster. Your insurance company will want a hurricane plan. If they accept what you offer, well I hope they are a good company.
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Old 07-27-2020, 12:57 PM   #14
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I love to read all the comments on the areas of the coast that are safe and those that are not. Reality is there is no point on the East Coast or the Gulf Coast that is completely safe from hurricanes and in most areas there are also areas more protected than others.

The last few years, NC and SC have had a rough time. Back when Sandy hit, it wasn't the only storm to hit the NE. There can be two marinas within the same general location but very different in terms of hurricane preparedness.

You have two choices. Either structure your life around hurricanes completely or determine what you'd like to do and then figure out the best way to do so while considering hurricanes. You figure out a plan. It won't be perfect, but it will be one designed first to keep you safe and second to protect your boat if possible.

Cardude references the Bahamas. Well, probably not ideal to have your boat sitting in another country. However, if that country is where you like to boat, you do so. And after a lot of stress, Cardude did get his boat home. In fact, I was amazed how well it came out of the hurricane while sitting in the worst area. Cardude kept himself safe and his boat was safer than most of us figured. Had his boat been in the US he would have gotten in a car and drive to it after the storm. Similarly, people who keep their boats in the Virgin Islands, but many spend the majority of their time there.

There's a huge difference in risk in Miami and Fort Lauderdale. Much of that is that many marinas in Miami, especially in the Key Biscayne area, are open to the ocean, while no marina in Fort Lauderdale is. They are all on the ICW. Also, the vast majority floating and with piles that are well above high water. These are the simple things you look at like history of damage of specific marinas and the construction of the marinas. We live in Fort Lauderdale and keep our boats here and feel our boats are safe and we're safe in our home, but that's after a lot of research and study.

Then you have rather unique situations, like inland floods combined with storms and boats kept as far inland as New Bern, NC. hit by floods as a result of the river flowing down combined with the storm.

I think also you must consider the differences between living on a boat and having a house to run to. Neither is right or wrong but they entail very different approaches. It's not just what are you going to do with your boat, but what are you going to do with yourselves. If your boat is your only home, it's a lot tougher to decide just to leave it somewhere that you think is safe but can never be sure.

I'd start with, assuming the plan is six months on land, six months on a boat (and consider that neither has to be consecutive months as we have friends who alternate months and fly home from wherever they last were boating), then your next questions are where do you want the land home and where do you want the boat and want to do your boating. Then you see how close you can come to those favored areas and still maintain the level of safety you require. That safety isn't likely to be 100% but perhaps feel that we're save in our home as 9 out of 10 and our boat is safe at a level of 8 out of 10. Our home is in an area never hit directly by a hurricane and it's elevated slightly above the all time highest flood. Our boat is in a dock never hit by a hurricane. Yet, I wouldn't rate either a 10 out of 10. Both 9 out of 10 and we're comfortable with that.

Don't go with generalities either. Research and get specifics. There is warning and there's time but you still have to make decisions early enough to carry them out. If your plan is to leave the boat at a marina in Tampa and to drive home to New Hampshire, but you're boating in the Keys when you first hear about the storm, then you need to consider the time to get to Tampa plus still time to leave before the roads are overwhelmed and the ability to drive far enough north to actually find lodging for a night, before continuing north.

Only you can decide if you want to allow hurricanes to dictate your entire boating season. We choose not to. We don't obsess over hurricanes but wherever we're boating we do always have an emergency plan in mind.
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Old 07-27-2020, 01:14 PM   #15
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When planning hurricane holes or marinas, states have been declaring "state of emergency" WAYYYYYY ahead of storms.



This brings on the problem of what bridges and when they will be shut down to boat traffic.


Last year had I wanted to move for Dorien....I could only have gone north (not my choice) as they closed a bridge just to the south of me...thus cutting my options in half.
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Old 07-27-2020, 07:59 PM   #16
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Thanks everyone! This is all incredibly helpful information.

Since you asked for details, Option A would be a smaller boat (say 30 or 40 feet) left in either Florida or the Bahamas and used for a couple of weeks at a time totaling 16 to 24 weeks a year. We keep a house in NH and perhaps a condo near a marina in FL or Bahamas.

Option B - which is my preference - is to get a larger boat that we spend 8 months or more living on. We would keep only our house in NH and we'd keep the boat in Maine during the summer. We would head south in early fall (listening to all of you it sounds like later might be better!). Assuming it takes a couple of months, we'd get to the Bahamas around New Years and stay until April when we'd head north arriving in New England in June. During the winter we'd likely need to leave the boat in the Bahamas for a week here and there but that is about it.

My wife's concern is about the trip south each fall. If we are in Virginia, the Carolinas etc when a hurricane hits we would be struggling to rapidly find an unfamiliar marina where we could berth the boat while we try and take off to somewhere safe. That is the part that concerns her.

I can't see us in the Bahamas during hurricane season. If the worst happened we will always have a dirt home we can return to. It is just the notion of cruising in North Carolina (for example) when a big hurricane forms and we have to scramble to find a marina willing to take us in.

For what its worth our plans for the next couple of years are to charter as much as possible. We will try and charter as many different kinds of boats, different sized boats and different locations as possible.

But I know my wife... If I want a chance of getting her to live on a boat for 8 months a year I've got to get her thinking about it now. My wife has a client that keeps a very small condo and a Back Cove in Key Largo. They spend as little time as possible in the condo and as much time as possible on the boat. Prior to COVID they would go back and forth all the time. They love it and tell my wife all the time how wonderful it is. So she has bought into the concept. Now I just need to get her to make the jump to 8 months a year!!
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Old 07-27-2020, 08:24 PM   #17
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Trends in insurance for larger recreational boats seem to be:

- Underwriters withdrawing from the market, particularly in higher risk hurricane zones
- hurricane zone policies becoming more stringent.
- requirements for detailed hurricane plans
- costs increasing in hurricane prone areas
- more frequent survey requirements
- harder to find insurance for older boats

It seems that one of the primary drivers for these trends are boat owners who are not able or willing to properly plan and execute a realistic hurricane plan because Ďthatís what insurance is forí.

BoatUS has a number of articles with information and recommendations. One example:

https://www.boatus.com/hurricanes/as...prep_guide.pdf

Hurricane strikes by county for east and gulf coasts:

https://www.nhc.noaa.gov/climo/images/strikes_us.jpg
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Old 07-28-2020, 01:11 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by GraniteStater View Post
Thanks everyone! This is all incredibly helpful information.

Since you asked for details, Option A would be a smaller boat (say 30 or 40 feet) left in either Florida or the Bahamas and used for a couple of weeks at a time totaling 16 to 24 weeks a year. We keep a house in NH and perhaps a condo near a marina in FL or Bahamas.

Option B - which is my preference - is to get a larger boat that we spend 8 months or more living on. We would keep only our house in NH and we'd keep the boat in Maine during the summer. We would head south in early fall (listening to all of you it sounds like later might be better!). Assuming it takes a couple of months, we'd get to the Bahamas around New Years and stay until April when we'd head north arriving in New England in June. During the winter we'd likely need to leave the boat in the Bahamas for a week here and there but that is about it.

My wife's concern is about the trip south each fall. If we are in Virginia, the Carolinas etc when a hurricane hits we would be struggling to rapidly find an unfamiliar marina where we could berth the boat while we try and take off to somewhere safe. That is the part that concerns her.

I can't see us in the Bahamas during hurricane season. If the worst happened we will always have a dirt home we can return to. It is just the notion of cruising in North Carolina (for example) when a big hurricane forms and we have to scramble to find a marina willing to take us in.

For what its worth our plans for the next couple of years are to charter as much as possible. We will try and charter as many different kinds of boats, different sized boats and different locations as possible.

But I know my wife... If I want a chance of getting her to live on a boat for 8 months a year I've got to get her thinking about it now. My wife has a client that keeps a very small condo and a Back Cove in Key Largo. They spend as little time as possible in the condo and as much time as possible on the boat. Prior to COVID they would go back and forth all the time. They love it and tell my wife all the time how wonderful it is. So she has bought into the concept. Now I just need to get her to make the jump to 8 months a year!!
If you're going to be anywhere near NC when you anticipate hurricane issues, then get a hurricane plan with Jarrett Bay and if you can get to them in a reasonable time then you'll be covered for haul out.
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Old 07-28-2020, 06:18 AM   #19
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There are a few tools you can use to preview locations relative to Hurricane affects.

The first is for storm surge you can zoom in on an area and click on the intensity of a storm by category to see the affects (SLOSH Map2).
https://www.nhc.noaa.gov/nationalsurge/

The secnd is for Hurricane strike probablities - you likely woudl not be nearly as concerned with the first map as that is for 'all hurricanes' the second one is for 'major' storms.
https://www.noaa.gov/stories/what-ar...ll-hit-my-home

Together they can give you a sense of where the liklihood and extent of a storm will likley be the largest problems.
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Old 07-28-2020, 06:30 AM   #20
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According to this Wiki, three fourths of Florida hurricanes occur during Aug-Oct.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List...ida_hurricanes

As others have said, you get a lot of notice and can move, but it can be a bit stressful. If I were planning a cruise, I'd definitely try to have more fun time than the dates you've mentioned.

In short, your wife is right on this one.

Peter
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