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In September of 2010, as we waited to see if Hurricane Earl was going to affect us in the Chesapeake Bay, we noted the local weather forecast:

  • Tuesday – Sunny with winds 5-10 knots
  • Wednesday – Sunny with winds 5-10 knots
  • Thursday – Sunny with winds 5-10 knots
  • Friday – Sunny with winds 5-10 knots – OH, AND THERE MIGHT BE A HURRICANE TODAY!
  • Saturday – Sunny with winds 5-10 knots

If one was to check this weekend’s local forecast for this area you’d get a similar story, but without any notice of an impending storm. The truth is that while the weather experts are able to make predictions based on current data and past history, no one really knows for sure what will happen.

During that last hurricane threat, we opted to react early and decisively, stripping the boat and preparing for the worst. The comments that I made at that time still stand: we have more time than money. The few hours that it takes for us to storm prep our boat can not begin to compare to the money we would have to spend out of our pockets to buy a new sail, etc. (yes, we have insurance but if this storm becomes Ernesto, we would have a huge deductible)

Along with our friends on Ainulindale, we have been closely monitoring Invest 99’s progress. As of 8:00 AM this morning, NOAA has upgraded the disturbance giving it a high chance of developing into a tropical cyclone in the next 48 hours. A significant point, as I noted yesterday, is the storm’s very southerly positioning. This makes the option of running south to Trinidad much riskier as they might in fact take a bigger hit than Grenada. Time will tell.

What’s our current plan? At the time of writing this message I think we will storm prep the boat but stay put where we are. We might do some dinghy recon for a spot in the mangroves a bit later, just in case. If reports continue to indicate that the storm will be significant and strike here directly, and we still opt to stay put, we’ll likely experiment with setting two additional anchors. This would be the first time that we have attempted this but I think I have a handle on how I can make it work. Fun, fun, fun!

Note that in spite of our taking this threat seriously, many boaters appear to be doing nothing. Oh well.
Image source:

During some online research yesterday on how to deploy a hurricane-anchor setup, I came across the following “extra” tips that I found worth repeating (quoted without editing. sorry, I don’t recall the source).

  • Fill water tanks in case you do go aground or the anchorage is too dirty to make water after storm.
  • As well as removing all sails and canvas, I unhook the toping lifts, lash boom aft ends to deck and use vang and extra lines to use boom as aft brace for Mast as well as a steady support if you need to be on deck.
  • Tension all halyards and topping lifts for additional support of masts and make sure no slapping against the masts can happen.
  • Safety Lines set up on deck.
  • For each of us, prepare mask / snorkel and bicycle helmet for emergency deck work. (I also have a thin diver’s hood to protect face and ears from wind pressure.) Fins are nearby in case we needed to abandon into the water.
  • Lash poly beach line on stern ready for deployment (I have actually used this to catch another yacht slowly dragging close by and help hold them…they had a Y set up that fouled)
  • A mechanical lock on the wheel to centre the rudder helps to slow down sheering during surges.
  • I personally don’t believe in using the engine blindly to relieve strain on the holding gear. There can be too much flotsam in the water from fish nets to poly line to foul the prop. Also if you get it wrong in a wind sheer you can over-run the chain and then come back very hard.

*Credit to Kirk for this post’s catchy title. 🙂


  1. Another extra tip: Get off the boat early! The boat can be replaced, you can’t.

  2. Good luck guys!

    In the insurance world there is a saying: “No one ever said ‘wow – wish we didn’t have that life insurance!'”.

    Likewise, I am sure, no one has ever said “Wow – wish we didn’t prepare carefully for that hurricane!”

  3. I enjoy following you two so be careful! Your post reminds me of my Captain friend that stayed on his prepared boat in the Keys ( I believe) during Hurricane Katrina. He was well anchored however the problem was all the other boats and Junk. He had to turn on motor to dodge all the trash and objects for hours wearing his mask and snorkel (to keep the rain out of his eyes) He and his boat came out without any damage. He states he will never stay on a boat again during a Hurricane. Boats can be replaced! I like the bicycle helmet idea. That is what we do here in the South with Tornados!

  4. Hey guys, my husband was off ship when his partner stayed on board during a hurricane and was pushed into rocks and sank the boat…just be careful where you are anchored! Good luck and we’ll all be anxiously watching the weather for you!

  5. Mike what anchor setup are you going to use?

  6. Does your policy cover the costs to take the boat out of the water or costs to make safe if it is a “named storm”

  7. Living on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, I’ve been hiding boats from hurricanes for 20 years. Never had any damage until Katrina, but then I never thought to prepare for a 34 foot tidal surge. She came out ok, though.
    I don’t know the lay of the land in Grenada, but if there is a storm, and if you’re staying on the boat, consider what we do. Find a hurricane hole – up a river, protected small bay, mangrove swamp, etc. Prep as you are planning to. Nose the bow onto shore and run 150 ft of line from each bow to the biggest trees you can find, as far apart as you are comfortable. Take 4 or 5 wraps and tie, as high as you can get it. Run an anchor and as much rode as can, leaving some to adjust on board, from each corner of the stern out in a V. Back the boat off the shore and start adjusting lines until you are comfortable with distance from shore versus amount of anchor rode out. Drive forward to make sure anchors are set well. If you’ve picked a good hole, you should have shelter from wind due to the trees, at least at water level, and the wave action should be minimized. You can sit the storm out, adjusting lines as necessary.

  8. Good Luck you two…. we are keeping an eye on you.

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