Each spring many cruisers leave the Caribbean to bring their boats north for hurricane season. For those unfamiliar with yacht insurance, typically there’s an imaginary “line” that you have to be north of by June 1st, and you can’t cross it again till November 1st. This line is determined by your insurer and may be the Georgia/Florida state line, NC/SC state line, or Norfolk at the most. (There’s also a southern line, somewhere around Grenada or Trinidad.)
So a lot of cruisers summer on the Chesapeake Bay and areas to the north. The Chesapeake Bay has 11,684 miles of shoreline and I’ve heard that it has more safe anchorages than any other body of water on the planet.
But what do you do when the forecast looks like this?I wish I knew the answer to that question! “Hurricane Preparation” is a heavily debated topic, should you pull the boat out or leave the boat in the water? Should you seek shelter in a marina with a bunch of other boats or drop the hook in a protected anchorage away from hard objects that can cause damage? Then there’s the added issue that if the eye of the storm comes up the Bay, we’ll be flooded with storm surge. BUT, if the eye hangs out on the East Coast, the water will be forced out of the Bay and the boats will be laying on mud in the marina. So what do you do?
I have no idea what the best thing to do will be, but I can tell you what I’ve done for our boat. For starters, I doubled up our dock lines and laid out extra dock lines and fenders for use where they’re needed during the storm. I folded up our canvas bimini and the dodger has been removed to lessen the windage on the boat. I made sure the bilge pump was running well, and nothing below decks would cause damage if it shifted during the storm. The sails were tightly wrapped and lashed to prevent unfurling, and everything that was on deck has been stowed or tied down. So basically, in sailing terms, we “battened down the hatches.”
I hope the precautions I took will help our boat make it safely through this storm. It would be even better if Irene loses intensity before it strikes land, but we’ll have to see what happens. Like Jimmy said, we’re just “tryin’ to reason with hurricane season.“