The information I gathered visiting the post-storm sites in the wake of Hurricanes Charley and Wilma, and speaking with marina personnel, is what I have used to form my surveyor’s observations on how to secure boats for a storm.
I guess the best way to assemble the information is a list of survival rates.
I don’t have percentage numbers, just my opinion based on viewing the nautical carnage of two powerful hurricanes.
Best Overall: Hauled and blocked is by far the best alternative.
Some marinas and dealerships went so far as to tie boats down to the ground by various means.
One sport boat dealership on Fort Myers Beach installed small cleats in the concrete pad with concrete anchors. They had not one boat come loose, and only a little debris damage from their own awning.
Two marinas on the Caloosahatchee tied boats down with steel augers, which is the method I chose for my 32 Luhrs.
The only knock downs I saw were at a marina that had a long row of boats very close together, and resting on sand with no tie downs. They all suffered the domino effect. By and large the blocked boats over 30 feet fared very well.
Second Best: In water, private dock.
These storms did not produce huge tide surges as expected. Private slips in many cases are broad enough to allow ample scope on your dock lines and still keep the boat off the piles and sea wall.
The majority of damage to these boats was caused by roofing tiles and fender/dock rash.
Sailboats suffered broken masts from pumping in the wind and countless shredded head sails.
Third Best: Trailer kept.
This is the best alternative for the under-30 crowd if available. But please don’t park it under a tree, especially a great big Gumbo Limbo.
Again, the use of a couple concrete anchors or augers can really help keep things in place.
Fourth Best: (second worst) Lift kept.
I saw very few boats secured properly upon their lifts, and all were highly subject to flying roof tiles.
But the main damage on lift-kept boats was from the lifts.
Most people had secured the boat to the dock and pilings with the usual macramé of rope and lifted the thing way up in the air.
The boats all tried to climb off the lifts and got stuck about half way down where most suffered flooding damage as well.
Most of the boats damaged on lifts had been pushed by the wind half way off the bunks.
The degree of damage was usually dependent upon whether the boat was shoved forwards or aft. Or even sideways.
A boat secured properly upon a lift can actually fare very well. Most boats, however, are not secured properly.
Last (or Worst): It’s a tie. Large in the water marina, or rack storage.
The problem here is that your fate is subject to the numerous risk factors and luck of the storage facility itself.
I saw entire docks broken from the pilings with a dozen boats (all securely tied) blowing around the marina and sinking everything in their paths
There were whole barns of boats racked four and five high that had crashed down in a huge pile of twisted metal and broken fiberglass.
I know it’s not fair to generalize. Here on Marco we have rebuilt most of our older docks and barns. If you ask their designers they will all tell you that they are rated for X amount of wind and surge, and are very secure in a storm.
I am just telling you what I saw in a category 4.
Boats at marina docks fared very poorly. And five barns hit the ground full of boats.
Next week: Campbell offers advice on securing boats.
Capt. John Campbell is an accredited marine surveyor, who is associated with the Society of Accredited Marine Surveyors, the American Boat and Yacht Council, and the Collier County Marine Trades Association. His expertise includes boat and yacht surveys, damage claims work and marine-related consultation. In this introductory article, Campbell makes his suggestions on how best to secure boats when severe storms threaten.