An unprepared boat will likely break free
In our experience, a boat’s success in weathering a storm is dependent 50% upon luck, and 50% upon the skipper’s preparation. This is especially true for boats at anchor or at a mooring, where a marina’s infrastructure can do little to help once the wind starts howling.
If you plan to ride out a storm at anchor, we suggest that you refer to the recommendations detailed in Chapman’s Piloting, as summarized below. Chapman’s is the bible for this stuff.
1. Set at least three anchors.
2. Prepare adequate chain, line and chafing gear (preferably heavy leather or rubber hose) to rig a hurricane mooring system.
3. Have on hand adequate anchor line and chain including (a) a minimum of 100’ of line per anchor, free of wear and rotten ends where line fastens to the anchor chain, and (b) 15’ of chain per anchor with appropriate shackles.
For boats on moorings, your priority should be to secure your boat properly to minimize potential damage to your vessel and those around you should your boat break loose of the mooring. The main things are to reduce windage and secure items which might become projectiles if they catch the wind. The following recommendations do not guarantee that your boat will escape damage, but will improve the potential for minimizing damage during a hurricane:
1. Secure all on-deck equipment such as antennas, fenders, dodgers, bimini tops, hooks, rafts, ladders, fishing gear, chairs, etc.
2. Remove or lash down sails, particularly roller furled genoas. The shoreline will be strewn with boats whose jibs unfurled and sailed the vessel right onto the rocks, perhaps taking out several others on their way.
3. Secure mooring lines and protect them with adequate chafing gear.
4. Secure the mooring with additional pennants.
5. Dinghies and tenders fly, and they hurt when they land. Stow them ashore.
We cannot emphasize enough the importance of proper preparations. Founded in 1932, this marina has weathered the ten or so hurricanes that visited Cape Cod Waters during this period. Our successes in minimizing damage to boats and property during recent storms attest to the importance of keeping our boaters informed and prepared. If you have any questions about gear, or how to secure your boat, please call us.
It is certain that, when a storm approaches, you are going to have questions about the safety of your vessel. Without a doubt, both you and marina personnel have more time to deal with and answer those questions now than we will during the 48-72 hours leading up to a possible hurricane strike.