Preparing Your Boat for a Tropical Storm

Posted by By Darrell Nicholson at 01:01PM - Comments: (4)

Boats doubled up on dock lines in local marinas as storm surge sets in.

Sweet little Tropical Storm Debby has left a trail of sailboats on beaches from Punta Gorda to Pensacola, Fla., and a dozen boats from the mooring field at our homeport of the Sarasota Sailing Squadron are among her victims.

If you haven’t given hurricane season a thought yet, you might want to start with our July 2008 report, “Lines, Snubbers, and Other Gear for Battening Down Ahead of Storms.” Technical Editor Ralph Naranjo’s first-hand account of his storm preparations “Tropical Storm Dos and Don’ts” and “How to Help Your Boat Survive A Major Storm” should also be required reading.

One storm-related product that has been sitting on (or under, to be exact) my desk for some time is a sample from of the Eco-mooring Rode developed by Dave Merrill Merril came by our office last winter while he was pitching his product to local marinas and municipalities—and dodging the chill of his home in New England. His company recently got a contract to install moorings in Provincetown, Mass.

Eco-mooring from uses a sheathed, elastic rode.

The Eco-mooring Road is effectively a super, heavy-duty bungy cord. It operates on the same principle as others like it, including the Seaflex Mooring System and the Hazelett Mooring System. These mooring rodes incorporate an elastic rode that allows mooring fields to pack more boats into smaller spaces. The elasticity also helps reduce shock on boat hardware. Merrill also sells a stretchy mooring pendant to incorporate into conventional chain moorings.

We haven’t yet tested these systems or taken a close look at their record in the field (the Hazelett has been around for some time), but the carnage caused here by a relatively weak tropical storm has bumped this test up on the “to do” list. Our most recent discussion of mooring holding power was published in 2009.

A couple other mooring-related products on our radar are the new helix-type mooring anchors offered by the same company that sells the Spade anchor in the U.S. We should mention that similar screws installed by a professional contractor here in Sarasota, Fla., ultimately failed to meet specified pull tests, so it is important to match the bottom type.

As marine surveyor Jonathan Klopman pointed out in response to our recent discussion of elasticity in anchor rodes, the topic of how much stretch is a good thing is a “hot” topic so to speak. Heat-induced friction in nylon rode, it seems is on everybody’s mind.

New England Rope's Cyclone Mooring Pendant incorporates two types of cordage.

Because of this, we are also interested in evaluating England ropes’ approach to storm moorings. In the New England Ropes system, the cyclone mooring pendant (set between the mooring ball and the boat) is made of two components—a length of low-stretch Endura 12 to handle abrasion on the boat and a high-grade nylon mooring pendant that goes from it to the mooring ball. New England Ropes has also launched a new line of chafe protectors, which we will be pitting against the best chafe protection from our last chafe-guard test.

There’s plenty to say about this topic, but the most important thing is this: The time to plan your hurricane strategy is long before the storm hits.

Comments (2)

All good data. The fundamental violation I see repeatedly is boats left in slips or on moorings with sails still on roller furlers. You must absolutely take all sails off.

Posted by: MARK H | July 2, 2012 9:18 PM    Report this comment

Having had a brand new 1" bridle break, and the next year losing the boat to a sustained blow with new bridles, I can claim a certain experience. Here's what I discovered after making the changes and weathering Hurricane Irene's NE quadrant with just a little chafe. USE A LONG BRIDLE. Your boat cannot stay on a mooring if it rears up, instead of pulling back. We quadrupled the length. I was advised that the minimum length is 5 times the freeboard plus the distance from the chocks to the cleats. The boat is 43 feet long. In a storm, the front end goes up in the air ALOT! The line cannot make a turn in radius so small as that going over the edge of the deck or chock. If the boat pulls back, the radius is much bigger.

Posted by: David S | June 30, 2012 8:04 PM    Report this comment

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