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Hurricane Ike lessons learned

Posted: Wed Sep 24, 2008 9:02 pm
by Golden Handcuffs
Hurricane Ike rolled through almost two weeks ago now. It was not an enjoyable experience. Our 350 "Golden Handcuffs" (ex-Longhawk), took a direct hit. We've had the boat only about two months now; it doesn't even have the new name on it yet.

Our boat was moored on a floating dock at the Seabrook Shipyard marina, which is a few hundred yards away from the Kemah Boardwalk, which was basically obliterated. Thankfully, our boat survived, though we were in the hardest hit part of the marina. We were damaged though. Hopefully, with insurance and time we will be good as new again. The previous owners took excellent care of this boat. Now, it looks like it went through a stock car race.

Having now been through a hurricane, I suppose we are in a position to comment on storm preparation. Here are our "findings" or "lessons learned"

1. Secure your boat well, with thick, new-ish lines. Our boat was secured with a ton of 5/8th inch lines that were all very new, in addition to a 1" spring line. Afterward, while inspecting the damage, we saw the remnants of others' lines. Old lines, though thick, will fail. Thin lines will fail. I haven't measure it yet, but it looks like the storm surge was something like 11 or 12 feet. At that point, our marina was essentially in open water. I can only imagine the type of punishment our poor vessel endured.

2. Don't haul out just because there's a hurricane! Some websites say to do this; apparently there are some statistics to support this. However, jackstands don't work with an 11 foot storm surge. Those boats were deposited far and wide.

3. There's only so much you can do. Even if your boat stays put, others won't. They will find yours and hit it.

4. Do not have a slip next to a yacht brokerage (we did). They did nothing to secure their boats. We were told before the storm "Well, they're not our boats. We called the owners and told them to secure them. I'm sure it will be fine." They claim it would make them liable; but I can't see that holding up in court. It would be hard to make someone liable for adding an extra line to a boat before a hurricane. Many of this brokers boats were damaged: A large, heavy Hans Christian came out of its dock, and took the bow off of a Tayana ketch, before running into our boat. Our anchor got stuck in the windvane and rigging at its stern. I think our boat must have torn off most of its windvane. I had to pry to two boats apart. All together, I'm very impressed with how our boat did against such a heavy boat. The old 35-foot morgan that was next to us just disappeared.

5. There's not many places you can put chafe gear on the 350. The one place we did get some chafing was on the fiberglass near the midship cleat for our springline. We could have put some sort of chafe protection there.

6. Don't count on the mainsheet to hold the boom in place. Our cleat-thing (not sure what to call it) that holds the mainsheet doesn't do a very good job, and it did come loose in the storm. We took a longish, 1/2" rope, ran it from one sheet winch, up to the boom, wrapped a few times around it, and brought it down to the other winch. I'm really glad we did that.

7. Take your radar off if you can. I wanted to, but decided that there was a good chance I was going to either drop the radar in the water, or fall off the boat and mangle myself. Well, the gimbled mount that it was on cracked, again attesting to the punishment it must have endured.

8. The boat could really use some cleats mounted actually on the stern. The rear cleats on our boat are mounted on the sides, and this prevents doing a criss-cross of stern lines.

9. Fenders help, the more the better. However, they obviously weren't enough. Who knows what a fender does in 80 mph winds?

10. Do not hang your fenders from the the lifelines! I just didn't think of it at the time. Curiously, our port stanchions are bent inwards!?!

11. Think long and hard what is going to rub against the dock in rough seas. If I could do it over again, I might go bow-in instead of stern in. Our stern chewed the dock pretty well. The dock chewed back.

That's all I can think of for now. Pictures below.

Re: Hurricane Ike lessons learned

Posted: Wed Sep 24, 2008 9:10 pm
by Golden Handcuffs
The Hans Christian locked with our boat; The Tayana had its bow torn off by the Hans:


I've heard Bruce anchors don't set well. This one did! I had to pry them apart with a 2x4


Damage to our starboard rubrail. I think this was probably from the Morgan docked next to us, before it went off wandering. Not sure what the light blue stuff is along the water line, but it has me worried.


Cracked radar mount:


Bent stanchions. Not sure why they are bent in; seems like it should be the other way:


Damage to the port side. Our stripes used to be so pretty. Fenders only do so much in hurricane winds.


Side/stern (probably some salty name for this part) where it was chewed on by the dock. I saw this coming, but there's really no way to put a fender on a corner. Maybe I should have gone bow-in. Not sure how the stern would have faired against the Hans Christian.


Hard to see, but I think there's some chewing at the stern along the water line. That worries me, because I think I remember reading that there's a major joint there.


Re: Hurricane Ike lessons learned

Posted: Thu Sep 25, 2008 8:03 am
by R.B.
Glad to see your boat is shiny side up! Amazing the power of Mother Nature. Thanks for the tips, although I hope to never have to use them.

Just a thought on the bent stantions. Is it possible that the wind put your boat over on its side so that the stantions were bent by the dock or other boat? The stripes being rubbed off may even support that theory.

Best of luck getting Golden Handcuffs restored.

Re: Hurricane Ike lessons learned

Posted: Sun Oct 05, 2008 3:47 pm
by Hans Grasman
Thank you for the "hurricane lessons learned" update. Many of the damages that I saw on your pictures were the same I experienced during Charley in Florida more than 3 years ago.
The stanchions you can bend back. I had one stanchion which needed to be recaulked. That was minor. Mine were also bend inward from the pressure of a falling dock post. Which was caused by a travelling boat, she went up and down the marina during the storm and tore out several dock piles.
I do not know what your deductable is but if it is $ 2000. or more (I have a hull damage deduct of $ 5000.) you can do a lot of repairs your self. Like the rub rail, the stripes,the stanchion and the fiberglass. I was lucky and a friend of mine learned to do the fiber glass repair. But from the looks you have probably a $1000, professional fiber glass job which you can shop down to maybe $ 500.00 and do yourself for $25.
Your hull looks shiny, you can see the reflection of one of your fenders on the hull.
Yes, the mainsheet slips out real easy and I am going to fix that on my boat.
I do not need radar in SW Florida. Never had fog and I only sail at night with clear weather.
Yes, we do need stern cleats. Especially for med. style mooring.
By now you probably have most things fixed.
Our boats are pretty solid. Thank you Mr. Butler !
Enjoy your boat and the fall sailing season.

Re: Hurricane Ike lessons learned

Posted: Tue Oct 07, 2008 8:36 pm
by Golden Handcuffs, we don't have our boat fixed yet. The boatyards in our area faired far worse than our boat did, they're just starting to get back to work. I don't know what the repairs are going to cost, but I imagine they are going to be a great deal more than $500-$1000.

Re: Hurricane Ike lessons learned

Posted: Wed Nov 12, 2008 9:41 pm
by saileagleswings
Sorry to hear and see the damage to your boat. It shows me how lucky I was.

I had my 350 in Waterford Marina during IKE. Fortunately, I suffered no damage at all.

I backed Eagle's Wings in the slip so the bow faced more or less southeast. If we got a north wind I reasoned, the water would be blown out the bay and the boat would sit in the mud. It has happened that way with Rita. So I wanted the bow facing into the most dangerous wind direction. I also tied up as far foward as possible making sure my mast was not aligned with the mast of the sailboat in the next slip. A power boat was in the slip on the otherside. I knew that the dock lines would strech so I want as much room between the dock and the stern as possible.

Like you, I secured the boat with like new dock braided 5/8" dock lines in a double X configuration on both sides + lines from bow and stern on the boat to bow and stern cleats on the dock, respectively for a total of 12 lines. For chafing gear I used plastic hose in which I drilled holes to vent the hose and keep the lines from overheating and blue jean material. The plastic hose I hoped would protect the lines from a beating on the full length finger piers. The blue jean material was wrapped around the lines that went around the cleats. One line that was not protected was worn half through where it went around the cleat on the dock.

I tied my fenders lengthwise to the finger pier midship cleats and secured large fenders to the midship cleats. This left onlt a few inches of clearance on each side so as soon as wind picked up the fenders would be mashed together. For good measure, I hung some fenders off the stern on each side.

Like you I tied off the boom to the winches. I left the mainsail on but secured it with 50 ft of line wrapped tightly around it with truck hitches. I taped my instrument covers down with duct tape and then covered the binacle with a plastic bag over which went my cover which I wrapped tightly. Of course, I removed the genoa, hatch covers, bimini and dodger.
I left the radar up; it suffered not.

I would like to think that all my preparations paid off but I think the major factor was the location. Waterford is probably the best hurricane hole on the Gulf Coast. As high as the water rose, the piers didn't float off the pilings (or all would have been lost) and boats were still protected by the berms and large houses surrounding the marina. Also my dock was brand new having just been replaced. A few cleats actually pulled out of the older docks. Also I was lucky that a rouge boat did not mash into Eagle's Wings. As far as I know no boats broke completly loose in Waterford. I used to walk the docks and sometimes complain to the office about ratty or thin lines used on boats espically if the offenders were near mine. I also worried about flying roof tiles but fortunately that didn't seem to be a problem.

Anyway I did all this preparation becuase I was leaving the country for a few weeks in September; I neve dreamed we would take a direct hit.

At the end of October, I sailed across the Gulf to Punta Gorda Fl with a crew of five. The only significant failure on the trip was the engine lift pump which may or may not be related to an air leak in the fuel system. The boat performed well except for some very slow motoring into 30+ knot winds to enter the channel at Grande Isle, LA.

If another Charley comes around I may not be so lucky.
Good luck with your repairs. If you see Sam (former owner of Longhawk), you can tell him I could have used his Gail Rider!

Re: Hurricane Ike lessons learned

Posted: Thu Nov 13, 2008 7:35 pm
by wcconway
Thanks for the information. We have only had our boat for 1 month, but with Arkeoo on the Alabama Gulf Coast I'm sure we'll have to initiate our hurricane plan at some point (hopefully later rather than sooner). I want to ask a question about something you mentioned. You said the cleats were too far to the side to criss-cross the stern lines. We have our boat tied up that way in our slip, granted it's not hurricane weather, and thought that was the most secure. Your thoughts??

Re: Hurricane Ike lessons learned

Posted: Sun Nov 23, 2008 6:13 pm
by Golden Handcuffs
Hmmm...your cleats may be set up differently than mine. On mine, the stern cleats are on the side of the boat, not right on the stern. You can see on of them in the second to last picture above. Often boats will have two cleats actually on the stern---you run a line from the port side stern cleat over to a dock cleat on the starboard side (and vice versa) I can't do that with the cleats on mine, because then the lines would wrap around the fiberglass and chafe away. Does that make any sense?

Re: Hurricane Ike lessons learned

Posted: Tue Dec 02, 2008 1:03 am
by Chips Ahoy!

I finally caught up to this.
Thank you for all the details.

I was surprised by the admonition about hauling.

The mainsheet in the jamb cleat always makes me nervous.
I tail it around the starboard winch and put the rest in the bag as a matter of paranoia.
For big blows, I cinch the aft main and tie it off to the stern cleats.

Chips hangs off a mooring in the back of our very well protected harbor.
...Great Kills Harbor, Staten Island, NY
We had no problems from Ike but lost many boats the year before in a sustained Nor'Easter.
Our losses were from boats that broke their chains (negligence) and secondarily took out leeward boats by stoving or sawing pendants.

The sad lesson seems to be that we can prepare to the max and hope it trumps stupid.

Thanks again.
-george...Chips Ahoy! #232