Hurricane Preparation

On August 18, 2002, cruisers anchored in the harbor met together at Puerto Blanco Marina, in Luperón, on the north coast of the Dominican Republic. Based on their experience, they pooled ideas about how best to prepare boats in anticipation of a hurricane. These are the notes from that meeting. At the same time, the group initiated a collaborative process to ensure an orderly and mutually supportive response among the cruisers in such an event.

Table of Contents for this Article
1. General 2. Preparation 3. Supplies
4. Afterwards 5. Anchoring Technique  


1. General Advice

2. Hurricane Preparation Tasks

3. Hurricane Preparation Supplies

4. After a Hurricane

5. Storm Anchoring Techniques

Ground tackle must have three essential elements:

  1. Anchor(s) suited to the seabed
  2. An elastic rode, and
  3. Chafe protection.

Each element must be equally strong, including eye splices, shackles, and shackle pins. Set your primary/storm anchor as far in advance as possible. Have all your other anchors prepared and ready to deploy prior to the storm’s arrival. An all chain rode does not have sufficient elasticity to ride out a storm. Best is half chain and half 3-strand nylon, firmly joined and secured to the boat. Excessive scope is not necessary and, as the water depth increases, less scope can be used. Chafe is the primary adversary in storm anchoring. Main chafe points are joins in the rode and where the rode passes onto the boat. It is extremely difficult and dangerous to try to wrap chafing gear around rode while a storm is in progress. Even with chafing gear in place, be prepared to reposition the chafe points by frequently paying out a bit more rode frequently as the storm progresses. Chafe occurs as the boat sheers from side to side (“horses”) on the anchor rode, and up and down on the waves. Position the boat in the anchorage and deploy ground tackle so as to minimize sheering motions as much as possible.

Consider setting dual bow anchors. (1)If you deploy a second anchor prior to the storm’s arrival, set the second anchor in the direction you anticipate the wind will change to, at an angle of no more than 45 degrees to the first anchor. The use of a swivel to join these two rodes is not recommended since it is a weak link. (2) If you wait to deploy a second anchor until the storm starts, use a hammerlock anchor to minimize horsing. This is a second bow anchor dropped under the bow on a short scope at the limit of the boat’s sideways movement. This “hammerlock” snubs the boat’s horsing considerably. The main wind load is still on the primary anchor. If the wind direction changes, the snubbing anchor will drag into a new position, still providing additional security.

Summarized from "The Complete Book of Anchoring and Mooring" by Earl Hinz

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Bill Dillon (KG4QFM)
Pat Watt (KG4QFQ)
This page was last modified on August 9, 2009

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