VISAR – Hurricane Season

Hurricane Season:

We’ve all read the forecasts and
predictions for the forthcoming hurricane season and view them with a degree of
trepidation, as we do every year.We
have to accept some of what we experience with a slightly fatalistic attitude –
there is nothing we can do to influence the track the storms take, or their
intensity.However, there are things
that we can do to mitigate the damage we sustain.

The events of last year’s hurricane season
demonstrated that the latitudes generally considered to be “hurricane free”
aren’t guaranteed.So, even if your
insurance coverage dictates that you move your boat outside of the hurricane
belt, you should still make preparations, just in case. Number one on your list of preparations for
the hurricane season should be to ensure that your policy is up-to-date and
that you’ve read the fine print carefully.
The last thing you want is to have shelled out a significant chunk of
money to take care of your pride and joy/source of income only to discover too
late that you had failed to do something, thereby voiding your insurance.

If you’ve a dedicated hurricane mooring,
this is the time of year to be checking it carefully to ascertain that the
ground tackle and lines are in good condition.
If you’re planning on going into one of the many “hurricane holes”
scattered through the region you need to make sure not only can you get into
the area (draft, beam etc.), but also that you have permission to use it and
that you are properly set-up to sit with the rest of the boats.

A good example is Tortola’s Paraquita Bay
(use of this Marine protected area is thanks to the BVI Government and the
Conservation and Fisheries Department), where the following rules apply: The annual maintenance fee for each Marine
Association mooring used is $125.Based
on availability moorings for first time users may be applied for at a cost of
$350 per mooring plus $100 Marine Association membership. Each vessel using
Paraquita Bay is required to have removed all sails and canvas, the boom dropped
and secured on the port side of the cockpit, have five tyres properly secured
on the port side and other fenders and tyres deployed appropriately. There is a
definite system of attaching to the moorings so that everyone sits securely
together: all lines must be doubled up to the port & starboard stern
pennants and into the mangrove or bow pennant.
Additional lines for mutual support to the boats immediately adjacent to
your boat (breast & springs) are also required. All deck tackle (life-raft, life-rings, cushions etc.) must be
removed and stowed below decks, instrument covers need to be taped over. The Marine Association employs a warden for
Paraquita Bay during hurricane season; the warden’s duties are primarily to
ensure that boats are stored in the anchorage as per the above
requirements.You can obtain more
information at [email protected].

If you’re not lucky enough to have access
to such an area, then you need to ensure that when you do choose your safe
haven you secure your boat in a manner similar to the other vessels around
you.Just as when overnight anchoring,
you want to make sure that you are going to swing in an arc that mirrors the
other boats’ motion.Setting anchors
with good chafe gear is essential, as is thinking about “sacrificial” lines to
relieve the pressure on your main lines and rode.

Before you take the boat to its hurricane
spot, it’s a good idea to check that fuel, propane and water tanks are topped
off and that you have laid in a reasonable supply of drinking water and
non-perishable food stocks that can take you through 10 days – 2 weeks after
you return to the boat.

Staying on board during a storm while at
anchor is not recommended. Once you’ve done everything that you can to prepare
thoroughly check everything one last time, lock up and go and stay on
shore.There is little or nothing that
you can do to protect the boat in a storm.
We’ve all heard of the folks who have battled valiantly up on deck
wearing mask and snorkel in the height of the storm to re-set lines where they
are chafing through or fend off other boats that have broken loose. Moving or fending off a boat can be
challenging under calm conditions, doing it in 60 – 90 knots of wind and low
visibility is hell.Yes you can emerge
with some wonderful “war stories” of how you fought the storm and won, but what
if you don’t?

All too frequently we hear stories of
people (normally men) who have decided to put their families ashore and stay
with the boat.Most of the time they
come to no harm and dine out on trading their experiences with others who did
the same.We seldom hear of the folks
who stayed on board and were badly injured, leaving their dependents to worry
about how they were going to cope with the primary breadwinner out of
action.The boat’s insured. Do your best. Photograph your efforts so
that you’ve a record of what you did, and walk away.

So what if your boat isn’t insured? Still do your best, take your photos and
walk away from it.Your life is
infinitely more valuable than the boat, and the boat is replaceable, while your
health and well-being isn’t.

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