Aug 28

Preparing for a Hurricane…

Greetings readers!!   As a couple of us COGA types live here in Florida, we thought it might be a good idea to post some procedures to follow when you get word that a big storm (tropical storm, hurricane, and even micro-burst thunder storms) are in the area.    The timing seems right as Isaac just barely missed a couple of us who live in the Tampa/St. Pete area.   So where do we start?


Watch your local news stations, weather channel and surf on-line resources like NOAA an other sites listed inisde our forum at http://www.cruisersownersforum.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?f=79&t=92.   Know where these storms are in relationship to you.   Speed and direction of travel.   Keep a sharp eye out because a storm heading somewhere else can pull a fast one on you and what you thought was out of play is suddenly pulling hard on your lines!!

Things to consider

Wind is not hurricane force until it reached sustained velocities of 73mph.  According to the Beaufort Scale (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beaufort_scale) and our collective experience, when wind velocities start dancing around the “Gale” forces, things go from being uncomfortable to dangerous.  Maneuvering in close quarters is significantly compromised.  If you are not in a berth, you need to get in to one, or find a “hurricane hole” and drop your biggest and best anchor.  Drop two if you can, but only from the BOW. The scope of this document isn’t intended to cover safe anchoring, but if you’re out in a gale (or worse), you need to find the best shelter, get on the hook and keep a watchful eye on conditions.  Everyone on board should have a PFD ON.

Assuming you are in a slip and you know there is a storm coming, wind is still not your friend.  Anything not secured will fly.  Items like boat hooks become deadly missiles, Bimini tops, flags and bimini frames turn in to a tangled mess and the board side of a boat is like a big sail.  As much as we stress keeping limbs from between boat and dock, or boat and any other item, quadruple it.   A wind propelled boat will kill and maim.  Here are some tips to keep your stuff YOUR STUFF:

  • BImini tops should be taken down, brought home or stowed below if at all possible.
  • Removeable seat cushions blow overboard.    You might find it again – 35 miles up the coast, but we would suggest stowing it below
  • Bow cushions – always a big topic here, love to sail on the winds.   Take ’em below or home.
  • This is a GREAT time to give your stuff a good washing, waterproof your canvas, etc.
  • Any boat with Isinglass that is removeable should be stowed.   A cockpit/storm cover will keep water out, but I’d rather have a wet cockpit than be replacing broken, torn and missing isinglass.  In colder climates, isinglass gets brittle, and one hail stone with ruin your day.
  • Some boats might have fixed enclosures (such as Barrett) which can handle 70+ mph windows.  Leave them up at your own peril.  Many are meant to stay up.  If you have outer covers or protection that will stay put in high winds, this is a good time to put it up.
  • If you have a dink, either secure the cover or remove it,  Remove the seat..  Make sure the plug is removed and stashed somewhere to let water out.  You don’t need a dinghy full of water on the back of your boat.  Webbing and straps should be doubly secure and motor mounts tight.


Once you’ve gotten detachable parts put away or tied down, it’s time to get serious.  The first step is to break out extra fenders.   In this particular example this boat (a 2005 455 Express Motor Yacht), is moored to a brand new facility with floating concrete docks and state-of-the-art wave attenuation systems.  The facility is rated to withstand a category 4 storm.   In this case, the captain has opted to keep his boat in the water at this marina and ride out the storm.  It is important to touch base with your insurance company and understand your policy.  Some companies will reimburse you for hauling and blocking on the hard.  Make sure you understand your coverage and do what is best for you and your boat..

Other important additionals to the hurricane kit are brought to bear, as illustrated of the following:

The balls are larger in diameter than the fixed 10×26″ to add a first stage of fending to protect the hull from high velocity gusts.   They are placed at dock-height and suspended from the railings using a clove hitch.

Our hapless captain attaching ball fenders to the railing

Clove hitch












In the following illustrations our hapless captain makes it “fast” by adding dock lines.   This is two days before the storm is due to arrive.   It’s worth noting that this particular boat is already well moored with (2) bowlines, spring lines fore-n-aft, (2) crossed stern lines, and a side line to keep the swim-step along side the dock. All lines should be doubled up.   One can be creative, because three things can happen:

  • A line can part (break, snap)
  • A cleat on the boat can give way
  • A cleat on the dock can give way

A good rule of thumb is to use every cleat you can both on the dock and on the boat itself…

Here, our captain has added a second bow line to the forward cleat. There are actually secured to two different cleats on the dock.












As when backing in to your slip or otherwise docking you boat, spring lines offer more handling power than bow and stern lines.  These spring lines keep the stern away from the end of the U shaped dock and the dinghy from destroying the dock box.   Spring lines halt all fore and aft movement.  Remember, there are floating docks, so these lines can be tight as the docks move up and down with the tide.

Here is another look at the bow lines, and also double spring lines cleated off to multiple cleats on the dock and also fwd and after spring cleats on board. Note the distance betwen the boat and dock.














Finally, if you can manage, spring lines on both sides of the boat keep the boat straight in the slip and offer even more strength.   Note that the Pelican Pole doesn’t float like the docks, so you need to leave some slack for tide and storm surge.   Also notice the double bow line is made fast to the forward spring cleat.   A 50ft spring line goes all the way to the other side of the empty slip next to the boat.  This not only halts fore/aft movement, but helps keep the boat away from the dock on the port side.  In this storm, winds are predicted to be out of the south.

For further discussion, become a member of our forum and continue this discussion inside!  We value all inputs!!






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