Preparing our boat for a hurricane!

Let’s start the day before a hurricane was due to hit our area. We had a berth at Charleston Harbor Marina in South Carolina… (video at the end of the article)

While walking from our sailboat to the main dock this morning I appreciated the placid water and light pink skies growing from the east. Normally I’d smile and think how absolutely beautiful our surroundings are. I’d watch the variety of birds fly about, make a note of how high the tide is and keep an eye out for passing crabs on the dock. I’d smell the salty sea air and notice the ever so light warm southern breeze.

Today, however my feelings are different. Today I have one thing taking over my mind and it’s the big storm that’s currently making it’s way towards us on the east coast of America.

Preparing our boat for a hurricane

Forecasts predict the Category 1 hurricane to hit us tomorrow around 3pm

Lost in my thoughts, I approached the main dock and Butch, the night watchman, yelled out, ‘Miss Kim, did you hear that the storm has been upgraded?’ I walked up to Butch and we discussed the impending storm. Butch then recounted a doozie that hit years back. It wasn’t forecasted to be a bad one but it turned into a hurricane just as it approached our current home, The Charleston Harbor Marina in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina.

Butch explained that he got caught out on the jetty tying boats down in 80 mph winds.

“Yikes!” I replied, demonstrating a face of slight terror when his full story was told

We parted ways just after wishing each other well. Butch explained that he’d be on hand the night of the storm and to give him a call if we have any problems.

Ironically I created a 5-Page Hurricane Preparedness Checklist a few days ago (get it FREE by clicking on the link). After spending a couple days collecting information from my insurance provider and reading information from those that have made it through a hurricane, I came to a scary conclusion.

If a very bad hurricane hits (Cat 3 or higher), no matter where the boat is, the chances of it making it out are very slim

So, regardless of being in a marina, anchored or stored onshore in ‘normal’ storage, a hurricane is more than likely going to destroy a boat.

Needless to say, we’ve confirmed with our insurance provider what our hurricane coverage is (to ensure we were totally covered!) and we’re spending the day preparing for the worst.

Today my husband, Simon, and I will take down our bimini and sprayhood – the canvas structures that provide us protection from the sun, wind and sea. We have solar panels that zip into the top of our bimini, or sun roof, so we can unzip them, unplug the electronics and also store them below decks.

Preparing our boat for a hurricane

Additionally, we’ve purchased 25’ of dock fender to protect the side of the boat

Instead of just having our fenders dangle down from the boat, we’ll put the bulk of the dock fender on the dock to ensure if the fenders pop up in the storm the boat is still protected. We’ll also put as many warps, or ropes, from the boat to the dock as possible. Furthermore, we’ll position the boat considering where the brunt of the wind and waves will be coming from.

It’s expected that the strong winds will be coming from the southeast and the winds will hit our stern pushing our port (left) side of the boat off the dock but the bow into the front jetty. Simon and I will pull the boat back a bit giving us more breathing room for the bow to move forward without the possibility of it hitting.

So…that’s the plan so far.

After all our preparation was done all we could do is sit and wait for the hurricane to hit…

Simon, our daughter and I all woke up around 8:30 in the morning. The sky was dull, there was a bit of wind and the sky was darker than normal.

Not having a brilliant internet connection on the boat, Simon walked over to the marina office to get the latest report. Upon his return we discovered that the Tropical Storm was upgraded to a Category 1 Hurricane. Later, during the day, the storm was downgraded so that when it hit us it was officially a Tropical Storm. Her name was Hermine.

Preparing our boat for a hurricane

Our neighbours making sure their anti chafing work held up!

Until 2pm we thought the storm was rather mild but then the wind increased!

We didn’t have much rain. It was simply blowing consistently. We noticed a few boats that had bimini’s coming off. The screening on the marina wall was being blown away. Additionally, the potion behind us broke apart and it lost electricity. Otherwise, there wasn’t really much to see.

For the most part, when it wasn’t raining, most of us live-aboards were outside talking while checking all our ropes. The boat started to bump up and down quite a bit so being on the pontoon provided a bit of relief – it was steadier. I couldn’t help but feel a bit green with a tinge of seasickness at a few points throughout the day.

When it was raining we tried our best to stay inside!

Simon and I had to pop out to secure a fender that kept popping up and within five seconds of being outside, I was soaked. The rain stung as it hit my face – not because it was cold but because of the speed it was hitting me!

Eventually, the wind died down and all the live-aboards met on the dock swapping stories about what they saw. We all decided to meet the following day for happy hour to celebrate our survival.

Twenty-four hours after the worst of the storm, all the live-aboards were enjoying snacks and drinks on the pontoon under the beautiful sun enjoying the warm breeze. Anyone visiting our dock would have never guessed a tropical storm passed through the day before.

Britican sustained no damage and neither did any of the other live-aboard boats.

Some people lost canvas covers, one boat smashed into the jetty, another split apart a storage box and one boat hit the outboard of the water taxi. Otherwise, I’m not sure there was any other issues within the marina.

We prepared for the storm and our preparations paid off.

If you’re researching about how to best prepare for a hurricane or tropical storm, while in a marina or at anchor, please request my FREE 5-Page Hurricane Guide – Hurricane Preparedness Checklist here!