The following information is presented in the hope that it will help you better prepare your boat in the event a major storm or hurricane approaches Grenada.
The information provided is based on existing materials from various sources, such as Boat U.S. Boat Owners Association literature, numerous other pamphlets and articles on hurricanes and tropical storms. Safe Yachts does not accept any responsibility or liability for any error, omissions, or consequences ensuing from the use of, or reliance upon, the information as presented in this article.
What can we expect from a hurricane? Hurricane season begins in June and continues through November, a quick review of this presentation will be helpful in determining how to react to a major storm approaching the immediate Prickly Bay area.
Storm Surge and Flooding Storm surge and flooding are the most destructive aspects of a hurricane on coastal property. A storm surge, which is a huge dome of water, could easily be 50 miles wide with intensive wave and tidal action. Surges causes 90% of all fatalities associated with hurricanes
Hurricane Ivan had an 18 ft surge when it hit Grenada. Waterfront communities located on inland rivers and canals will not be spared when this occurs.
Violent Winds Storms become designated hurricanes when winds reach 75 mph. Category 5 hurricanes can have winds exceeding 155 mph! The strongest hurricane in history is believed to be Hurricane Gilbert, making landfall in Mexico with 218 mph winds.
We all have seen the pictures in the media about wind damage in Grenada locations. We should understand the change that takes place as the wind speed increases. There is a big difference between wind speed and wind force. When the wind speed increases doubling from 20 to 40 mph, the wind force on your boat and equipment increases exponentially. It quadruples in this example. Imagine a wind speed of 150 mph and the amount of force it would produce! Consider the impact of accompanying wind gusts that can exceed sustained wind speed by up to 50%.
Heavy Rains While the average rainfall attending these storms could be 6 to 12 or more inches, there have been instances of over 24 inches falling.
As seen with Hurricane Frances, a slow moving hurricane or tropical storm can produce severe rainfall and flooding. In canals and rivers, heavy rain and runoff can create swirling currents which can have destructive power if boats are not secured properly.
What equipment is needed? The most important item needed is a detailed, written hurricane plan. Boat US has a boat preparation brochure that includes an excellent planning sheet that can be downloaded from their website. List all the items you plan to use in the preparation plan so you won’t have to scratch your head and try to remember what, where and how you will proceed when the “big one” comes along.
You will need lots of duct tape (they even make a removable version now) or painters blue masking tape. Tape is used to seal and secure: cabinets and drawers vents for fuel and water tanks engine room vents instrument gauges switches windows hatches seams in windows & doors Wind driven rain will find a way into every crack and crevice in your boat unless you prevent it from happening. It will rock your boat with violent motion and cause everything to shake, rattle, and roll. Flying objects can break glass and damage fibreglass and plastic.
If you have through hull openings not fitted with sea cocks, you can seal them with wooden plugs available in varying sizes at marine stores. Engine exhausts on larger boats should be plugged by whatever you can find. Try using golf balls or tennis balls. Use a towel or rag around the item to allow you to pull them out again after the storm passes. The minimum size of line is ½” and should be larger for boats over 25 ft in length.
Use old lines as backup and emergency gear. Anywhere lines touch anything they must be protected… on your boat, on shore, or where they cross each other.
Chafing gear is essential wherever your boat will be kept. This is protection for your lines and boat. This includes extra long and sturdy gear available from retail stores or items that you may have on hand such as neoprene garden hose, old fire hose, heavy canvas, chain, automobile tires, boat fenders, and fender boards.
Your lines must be protected from the violent, rapid, repeated, and jerking movements that can cut, wear, and overheat them. Your lines can easily and quickly be destroyed by friction.
A popular choice for chafing gear is two layers of plastic garden hose over the line, the second layer being a size larger. Some experienced boaters slide extra lengths and pieces of hose onto their lines for use if chafing gear fails, so they can then slide these “standby” pieces into place as needed.
Chain is terrific for securing around trees, pilings, over seawalls and other objects but must be used in conjunction with nylon line. Where your boat may come in contact with anything, tires and fenders are required.
Use anchors that are much larger than what you would normally use. You should have at least two storm anchors with extra long rodes composed of chain and nylon twisted line.
The cleats on your boat are probably too small for use in a violent storm. Consider adding larger ones with 4 holes instead of 2. When installing new cleats, be sure to back them with aluminum, stainless steel, or marine plywood plates. There will be several larger- than-normal lines tied to your cleats, so plan accordingly.
Consider adding an extra battery if your boat has a bilge pump. Batteries should be fully charged before a storm and the bilges cleaned and cleared of debris.
Make sure your permanent fuel tanks are filled to prevent liquid movement, and expected violent sloshing during a storm. It can lead to leaks and fuel system damage.
Things to Do □ Batteries………………………. Charge them □ Bilge…………………. Clean & Clear Holes □ Pumps…………………………… ….Test them □ Switches …………………………..Test them □ Cleats ……………..Big enough & backed? □ Cockpit Drains ………………….Clear them □ Fuel Tanks…………………………….Fill them
Wind force is the culprit here so everything must be removed; extra fenders and anchors, extra lines, sails, booms, life rings, bimini tops, dodgers, solar panels, radar antennas and domes, outboard motors, fuel cans, cowl ventilators, boat poles, cushions and coolers. Run all sailboat halyards up to the top of the mast on a single line.
Inside Anything that can move inside the boat should be removed. Water intrusion and violent motion can cause any loose object to produce damage. Remove electronics and navigation equipment, tools, mattresses, supplies, food, clothing, foul weather gear, personal effects, ships papers, manuals and books. It may be possible to place light and bulky soft objects into a sealed garbage bag and leave it in the boat, but you don’t want anything that will hamper salvage efforts after the storm.
Lockers Remove all portable fuel tanks, solvents, oil, and anything not in permanent tanks. Also remove buckets, cleaning supplies and equipment, portable pumps, mops and rags. Lockers should be empty and secured.
Dock Boxes & Dockside Storage If you have items in a dock box or dock side storage, empty it out and store the contents elsewhere. If possible remove the dock box from the dock altogether. Docks frequently break apart and disappear in a severe hurricane.
When to Start? A Hurricane Warning is usually posted 24 hours before high winds are expected. This is definitely too late to begin preparations. Prior to the arrival of high winds, you will need time to: Prepare the boat - 4 hrs Move it to a hurricane hole - 2 hrs Travel to and from ramp - 5 hrs Collect supplies & food - 4 hrs Evacuate inland - 2 hrs Allow for the unexpected - 8 hrs 25 hrs
Keep in mind, these are daylight hours. In the example above, you would need at least 2 full days to prepare. That’s what it takes to be safe!
Consider each of the activities listed and others that apply to your particular situation. Make a list of your own. This will give you an idea when you need to actively begin following the steps in your Hurricane Preparation Plan.
Here are some additional considerations: If you have a marina haul your boat, be sure they expect you and will schedule a time to have your boat available.
If moving your boat, be sure to go before bridges are locked down. If moving your boat, find out if your chosen hurricane hole will be accessible and available.
Set a deadline for when you will evacuate. If you are running out of time, stop preparing, put your family and pets in a car and get out! Keep your insurance paid up. Securing Your Boat? When you plan how you will secure your boat, you must take into consideration where you will be securing it, what the size of the boat is, its weight, what other boats and property is nearby, and the space around the boat. If your boat will be placed in the water, draw a diagram showing the location and position of your boat with accompanying lines and attachment points.
You should make a well-organized written plan that contains a detailed list of the actions you will take before and after a storm. The quality of your plan will be reflected in the quality of your preparations and the success you achieve.
Not only must your Hurricane Preparation Plan be carefully prepared, but you should also rehearse it. A walk-through of the plan using all the supplies and equipment helps fine-tune the plan and identifies potential problems and delays. It will help you learn the time it takes to do certain tasks.
Lines, chain, anchors, and chafing gear should be laid out and marked by location according to the diagram in your plan. All the gear identified in your plan should be stored separately and readily available.
On Land The safest place for most boats is on land if possible. Be sure to consider possible effects of storm surge.
The best plan is to move it to a safe location. Tie the boat to fixed objects such as trees, buildings, or ground anchors. Orient the boat into the expected wind, but anticipate wind direction changes.
In a Hurricane Hole This is a place where your boat won’t be subjected to breaking waves and the worst of the winds. Hurricane Holes can be small rivers, streams, bayous, canals, or protected harbours. Port Egmont is the primary hurricane hole in Grenada. If you plan to move your boat to a hurricane hole, remember to check ahead of time to be sure it will be available. Look at the tide chart. Access may be too shallow. Harbours may be too crowded.
Securing your boat will involve tying numerous lines from your boat to the mangroves and using anchors so that your boat will look like it’s caught in a spider’s web.
Don’t forget to plan when and how you will get ashore. Start early and go ashore before conditions become too dangerous. You don’t want to ride out a hurricane in your boat anchored in a hurricane hole!
At Anchor If you plan to anchor out, which is always questionable, do so only if you are sure that the location is relatively safe from the storm surge and violent wind over a large stretch of open water.
Consider the size of open water area, water depth, the holding ground, other hazards nearby such as trees, boats, seawalls, docks and power lines.
Your ground tackle must be first rate. Use multiple and oversized anchors, chain, and sentinels (heavy weights positioned on the anchor rode where the chain meets the nylon line). The sentinel permits a better cantenary, or curved shape on the rode and a more horizontal pull on the anchor.
A secure helical sand screw mooring which is cleaned, checked and serviced on a regular six monthly basis is a better alternative with extra anchors deployed for additional strength, one out in the front and one out stern to keep her pointed in a Southerly direction to take the brunt of the sea surge and wind which will come into Prickly Bay.
Be sure you use proper sized line and scope length. While facing toward the oncoming storm, you must also be prepared for 360 degree violent wind shifts and utilize sufficient Anchors,. lines, and chafing gear accordingly
It’s not recommended that you remain on board, so plan how you are going ashore and when.
On Lifts Lifts are not a good place for boats either. They may be okay for smaller storms, but a severe tropical storm or a hurricane with a storm surge can lift them off of the cradles. If this happens, the boat may be driven into the lift machinery or pilings and suffer severe damage. However, if you really feel your boat can remain on the lift and not be adversely affected by a storm surge, flooding and high winds, then proceed to secure it there.
Do so by first placing tires or fenders between the lift and the boat, then raising the lift high and tying the boat to the lift. Tie the lift to pilings and tie the boat to anchor points ashore and even offshore.
The idea is for the lift and the boat to be as rock solid as possible, or at least to stay in the general vicinity if all is destroyed. Such actions probably would be sufficient in a tropical storm, but not in a hurricane. All we can say is, “Good Luck!”
Keep in mind the need for chafing gear in all these situations. Anywhere lines touch each other or any fixed object or where rough spots or edges exist. Chafing gear is a must. Repeated, severe elongation, jerking, sawing motions and the resulting heating of the lines lead to quick and premature line failure.
Chain is a great chafing preventer in many cases as long as it is used in conjunction with the right type of line.
Always shut off the electric power to docks, and lifts, and be sure cockpit drains are open and clear.
Snowbirds and Neighbors If your hurricane plan involves keeping your vessel in the water or a marina, you will need to coordinate with and solicit the cooperation of your neighbours.
You will need their permission to tie up to attachment points on their land or dock pilings or across their slip. You will need their cooperation in not blocking access into and out of your canal or marina too early. There should be a group of neighbours with a plan to assist others who are unable to secure their own boats due to physical limitations or absence.
Our best advice is to talk with your boating neighbours and develop your own “Neighbourhood Hurricane Plan” using the planning sheets. Be sure to discuss and resolve issues of intentions, preferences, timing, access, and permission, as well as location of lines and gear.
Prepare a worksheet for each boat and identify where lines and gear are stored. Identify a primary and backup person responsible for each boat.
For absent or uncooperative owners, we suggest you include their boats in your plan and that you share a draft copy of the plan for their boats. Let them know the planning is for their benefit.
May God bless our boats and all that sail in her. Amen. --------------------------------------------------------------------