Weather Preparedness

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Oct 29, 2009
Vessel Name
Skinny Dippin'
Vessel Make
Navigator 42'
Hi Everyone!!*

Tom (Gonzo) and I have been discussing our own hurricane preparedness for the coming season.** It made me wonder, with all of us here on TF all over the US, what are YOUR weather concerns?* What makes you think in your location that you need to go prepare the boat for upcoming weather?* What does bad*weather mean to you, and what do you do to prepare for it?

Just curious!* This should be an interesting topic...or at least I hope it is!
Here in the Galveston Bay area, we just watch the weather in the GOM. Like right now, we have TS Don heading S of us for now, but it could change. Already have all the hurricane season stuff done, plans made, etc. How we prepare depends on what's coming and how long do we have. I'm in a marina with floating docks, so removing extra canvas, double lines with chafe protections, filling water tanks, etc. are all done before we have to evacuate if we decide to.
*.......hurricane preparedness for the coming season.**

I already doubled up all of my docklines. Tomorrow, I will remove my shade tarps, bimini and dodger. I am leaving my sails up because I am gambling we don't take a direct hit by TS Don. I live in Kemah, Tx. between Houston and Galveston, Tx. - definitely hurricane territory. We pay premium $$ for floating docks and after Hurricane Katrina, I am a believer in them. We were in Slidell, La when Katrina hit - the eyewall was right over the marina.

We are live-aboards and our boat is our home. We also maintain a mini-storage for some of our stuff and I also lease a commercial building for my woodworking business which is only 1 of my full time careers.

And yes, this should be an interesting thread.



Being in SE Connecticut there is not much*we do in advance. I would double my lines and add a couple of fenders if it looked like we might have something pass close during mid week. Our marina has tied everything together a few times in the past. This means all the outside boats set anchors, and the inside boats tie across the fairway.* We only did this maybe 3 times in my 20 history of boating when we were in a warning zone.

When we end up in a watch zone we usually end up having a party.

I feel for everyone in the active areas.



-- Edited by jleonard on Wednesday 27th of July 2011 06:55:47 PM
We don't get a lot of hurricanes up here on the TN River though a tornado ripped my bimini off last spring!
Bad weather in the PNW generally means more and stronger winds. It rains year round so there's not much difference in that regard between the seasons. It rarely snows near the water so that is not a huge concern.

Temperatures below freezing for more than a few days at a time are rare. They are more common in the northwest corner of the state because of the flow of cold air from the BC interior down the Fraser River valley and out over the delta region. But even then temperatures that stay below freezing for 24 hours a day only last a few days at most.. It can be enough to put a skim of ice over our marina, however, and it's not advisable to try to take a boat out--- at least not a fiberglass boat--- when that happens.

We used to drain the water system in our boat in November and run RV anti-freeze through all the lines but we stopped doing that years ago. Even after flushing the tanks and lines severfal times it takes all summer to get the taste out of the water and since we use the boat year round it was a pain dealing with jugs of potable water in the galley.

So most boaters in Bellingham mainly prepare for wind. Secure bimini covers or remove them, make sure any canvas on the boat is secure and the seams are good, etc. We moor our boat with its stern to the wind which keeps the flying bridge cover from flapping up and down and reduces the risk of seams failing. The typical winter front passage can bring sustained winds of 50 mph with gusts as high as 80mph although 60mph gusts are more typical. So we have three spring lines that run aft as well as a stern breast line and two bow breast lines.

Because we use the boat year round we keep heat in the engine room in the winter in the form of an electric oil heater. This keeps the space at about 50-60 degrees so the FL120s start right now even when it's almost freezing outside. We also keep the same kind of heater in the aft cabin. If it is forecast to be below freezing for more than a couple of 24 hour periods at a time we'll drive up and put a pillbox heater in the lazarette where the water tanks are.

The photo below is the boat set up for the winter. When we leave it after a cruise we have canvas window covers for all the main cabin windows, too. They do a great job of keeping the window tracks clean so we don't end up with dirt and gunk in them. And the covers on the rails, transom*and stuff do such a terrific job of protecting the finish I confess we've gotten lazy about removing them and tend to leave them on year round except when we take longer cruises. I know Eric Henning hates the look but we gladly trade the look for the elimination of finish maintenance.


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Woodsong wrote:
We don't get a lot of hurricanes up here on the TN River though a tornado ripped my bimini off last spring!
*We don't get any hurricanes in the PNW, but we do get hurricane force winds on the water maybe 4-6 times per winter.* Fortunately, they are relatively brief, maybe 4-6 hours in general, mostly on the back side of extreme low pressure troughs.

So, normal winter precautions - Stow all loose gear and*put out winter mooring lines (oversize and more numerous than summer lines).
They start lining up about mid August...

I have a*slip waiting*in a well protected marina where I will move my boat.* The marina where my boat stays regularly is not well protected and also will force me to vacate if their hurricane plan goes into effect.* Then I'll move the boat to the more protected space and take down the canvas, tape up the doors, and tie the sh*t out of everything.

If a direct hit happens none of that will help, since there will be boats piled upon boats, and even if you tied yours down maybe someone else didn't do it as well.

'Tis the price we pay for good boating April through November.
Man, I sure didn't want to start talking about the "H" word. I bought 600' of 1 1/4" line last year and I think I'll buy another 600' this year. I have 4 35' pilings on the east side of the canal and I had 2 35' pilings driven until only about 2' stick up on low tide on the west side so I can tie off on both sides. I still don't think this is enough. There are some very large "Live Oaks" on the bluff on the east side. Katrina kinda scared the crap out of me.
Anacortes, WA - Since our weather is generally so mild, we don't do much at all. *I put the canvas window and vent covers on when I'm not there during the winter and we usually have dock water year round except for a few of the coldest day each year, when they shut it off. *Even then my engine room stays warm enough that even the gallon of*distilled battery water doesn't freeze. *However, you have to be sure and take the diet pop off the boat as it's just colored soda water, no sugar, and it will freeze, splits the can and runs all over hell when it thaws.

We get some big gusting wind storms from time-to-time. *So I usually throw a port side bow line on to keep the boat from moving around to much in the slip and effecting, the Directv Sat. signal. *Nothing worse than watching a Seahawk's game and have the signal lock up during a crucial play.

I guess we are pretty lucky from that point of view.

Larry B
When I moved to Alaska in the early 70s I used to tie my boats rather loose but after the 1st 80mph "Taku" wind (off the Taku Glacier) I've been tying my boats real tight for high winds. In Thorne Bay winds are a little less but some years Willy's hull is frozen solid in 3" of ice. Stepping aboard produces no movement whatsoever. I have used electric heaters to keep the boat warm but don't like the bill ($.23 KWA). I like to go out at times in the winter but this year I'm going to "pickle" the boat. RV antifreeze everywhere except the engine coolant. We don't drink our domestic water from the tanks. Use distilled water in Jugs. Not a problem. Deck gets extremely slippery w ice so I may put down some boards on the aft deck this year. Need to get extra oil on the teak and tape around many of the windows. I'll probably remove the dinghy. Thinking about fogging the engine too.
In many east coast locations the fear is hardly the breeze.

A high tide and a 10-12 ft storm surge would lift most docks over the top of the pilings, and the entire marina could blow away.

Solution , at least for us in the past, is to run 20 miles up a river .

Many marinas on the coast REQUIRE the marina to be evacuated on the warning,
FF wrote:

Many marinas on the coast REQUIRE the marina to be evacuated on the warning,
*That's my marina's policy. I asked the dock master if they plan on enforcing that and he said no. Where would I go??

I joined the Hurricane club at my last marina which included a haul out for $200. My current marina charges over $1000 to join the club. Forget it.*

I've boated in this area for 12 years and never had a problem. If we took a direct hit the storm surge would float all the boats that were hauled out anyway. Storm surge markers in this area show a Cat 1 surge 6 ft above ground. You can't prepare for that.*
This discussion got me to thinking.

Though my marine has a written policy of requiring evacuation if a hurricane warning is issued, the dock master said they don't intend to enforce it. With no hurricane activity in the Tampa Bay area in the last 60 years or so, I have no experience to draw from, ie whether he was truthful or not.

Anyway, I saw this article several years ago and it perhaps will create some discussion among some folks here.

Tandem anchoring:

It would be something I would consider if I could handle the logistics of setting these anchors by myself.
Floating docks totally rebuilt in ~ 2004 on a sheltered bay off the Pamlico River, wave attenuators on the weather side, and finger piers on both sides of all slips.* Double lines and bimini removal are all I plan to do.

There are markers on our new, taller pilings that show Dennis/Floyd storm surge (1999) marks only about halfway up the posts, so my greatest fear concern is that someone else's boat breaks loose and bangs around.

Since most boats are owned by members of the community, we have many hands nearby to insure that all boats are adequately prepped for a storm. * We do have slips available for sale, though, and a number of boat-owners from nearby Greenville (East Carolina U) have slips here.* Only downside is shallow draft. Sailboats drawing more than 5 feet will not be happy here.
The marinas want you to get out so your boat doesn't damage their*docks. However, as you would imagine...where would you go? In FL the state found that to be illegal. There is no requirement like that here in TX. It can really put you in danger. And what would they do if you refused to leave? Tow you out and turn you loose?
Al, I've been to that marina. I don't want to contradict you because you live there, but there didn't appear to be ANY protection at that marina. Totally open and exposed on three sides. In a storm, that would be near the bottom of the list of place I would want to stay. You should go stick it down in Blounts Creek or something. But hey, my wife started this thread, so who am I to say.

My theory on this it to lock a boat down to the PILINGS and NOT to floating docks (go look at the tsunami videos... every boat damaged or broke away had a floating dock tied to it) or to get in up into a skinny creek and get yourself protected from the high winds (ie tall trees or cliff around) with at least two anchors out from the bow.

My worry is... do you just leave it anchored and unattended during the storm? How much would it suck to survive the storm only to get get your boat looted afterwards?
The folks who talk about leaving the vessel tied to the pier haven't been though a good storm yet. Gonzo nailed it on the head, tie up to some trees or pilings and ride it out.
swampu wrote:
The folks who talk about leaving the vessel tied to the pier haven't been though a good storm yet. Gonzo nailed it on the head, tie up to some trees or pilings and ride it out.
*That is exactly what I did when I lived in Biloxi. Everyone had their favorite hiding spot. I used to go way up the river to a place that was off the main river and tie front to trees and stern had 2 anchors. Couldn't quite see I-10 from there, but you could hear the traffic on it.

As for floating docks, I am a firm believer in them. My boat survived a direct hit by Katrina and suffered minimal damage in Slidell, La. and also a direct Hit by Ike in Kemah, Tx. Since kemah area has several marinas to compare, all the ones with floating docks did just fine. A good example is Watergate Marina. The floating dock area was OK. The solid docks were total devastation. The only place I heard of that had major damage damage with floating docks had the pilings too short to be of any use and the docks floated off the pilings with the boats. Anyway, that's what I heard.*


BTW, great looking boat. We used to call that style a "Biloxi Lugger". I always admired that style. Yours looks like one of the old Ship Island ferries.

-- Edited by Tony B on Friday 29th of July 2011 03:03:46 AM
That was Bayland Park marina in Baytown, TX. Nice floating docks but went cheap on the pilings (too short). The entire marina floated inland during Ike. Nothing left there now but the pilings and one snailbote tied to them with a for sale sign.

No damage here at SSH with the floating piers during Ike. The eye passed right over the marina, and the back side was worse than the front.
Tom, not to start a debate on what's protected or not, but I would not say we're really as exposed as you say.* We're nearly landlocked on three sides, and the only exposed part of the docks is southeast. When storms are forecast, all boats are requested to tie up "bow to the wind".* Even the older docks made it thru Isobel, and the new pilings were driven twice as deep are rated for a Cat 4 .* Replacement was not related to storm damage, but to poor design of the floats under the piers. Developer (Weyerhauser) footed the entire bill to replace in 2005 for ~$5 mil.


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Keith wrote:
.........No damage here at SSH with the floating piers during Ike. The eye passed right over the marina, and the back side was worse than the front.
*I was in Marina Del Sol for Ike and the only boats that sunk were pretty much derelic boats. That's not bad considering the sorry shape that that marina is in to begin with. We moved to Waterford Harbor Marina about a year and a half ago.

If we get a trawler, we were thinking about moving to SSH.

Yup, floating docks are the way to go. I leave my lines doubled all the time. If a hurricane is coming, I just remove my bimini, dodger and sails - total of 2 hours worth of work.
While we don't see a lot of hurricanes in New Jersey, we get our share of nor'easters. We moved to a more secure marina 9 years ago with floating docks (before you do this, take a look at the normal high water mark on the pilings and make sure there's enough piling to go another 6-8' otherwise your boat will float away with the dock and everyone elses boat). I pay more to get the inside "T" so i have more cleats available on the dock than most of the other slips. i also run long spring lines from the rings on the pilings. This is my normal arrangement so I never have to run to the marina to do anything extra.
390 Mainship
In areas subject to large storm surges, staying tied to a dock is perilous at best.* A good sheltered creek with trees to tie off is a great way to leave your boat.* How about the Trent River or some of the creeks off the Neuse?* When we were at Morehead City some friends had an extra slip behind their home on Queens Creek at Swansboro.* Upon hearing a storm was headed our wau we would travel the 75 milrs to the boat, do the ferrying of boat and car to run the 25 miles or so to Queens Creek.* The slip was large with extra high pilings.* We would double all lines, rig chafe guards, put out fenders, and take down the canvas and outriggers.* Never had a problem.

At Orange Beach, AL*Soldiers Creek off Perdido Bay was the hurricane hole.* Tie off where you can and put out anchors.* Now, we live 400 to 1000 miles from our boat.* We always either haul out when we leave or work a deal with a local captain.* The local boys can secure a haul out place when others can't.

We are planning on moving back down to Ft. Pierce or Stuart, FL in November.* We will try to find a local captain there to look after the boat when we are gone.* We file his name and number with the insurance company.* We also inform them of our storm prepardness plan.* It has worked for 40 years.* Here's hoping the plan continues to work.
"We also inform them of our storm prepardness plan."

Many folks on the FL coast or in the Keys rent a space in a Hurricane Hole for the summer and simply run there before the bridges close.

A number of my neighbors have "empty " but rented docks that serve this purpose.

For many owners this form of self insurance works out very well.
We had our 2859 Bayliner sink during Hurricane Katrina in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. We were pretty far upriver at Bay Marina, an older marina with *tin covered slips. This was considered the "Hurricane Hole" I was told.

I posted some pics. We lived about 100 miles away and made the perilouis journey to check the boat 2 days after Hurricane Katrina hit. Notice the high water mark on the interstate overpass, Hwy 603 at Interstate 10. This is probably 6 or 7 miles inland!


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Wow. Let us all hope, pray that we're not in the path of another Katrina. All the preparation in the world is not likely to save a boat in those conditions.
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