As hurricane season approaches, join Commuter Cruiser for a series of five Hurricane Preparedness Guidelines. While no preparation can totally insure success in the madness of a hurricane, being prepared is much better than not being prepared! Better yet, be in an area with no hurricane threat. Rio Dulce, Guatemala, Bocas Del Toro or Shelter Bay/Colon, Panama are good. Be sure to stay tuned for the rest of the series…
Winterlude survived a direct hit from Cat 4 Hurricane Charley in Burnt Store Marina August 13, 2004 … just 2 months before we were planning to leave the US to go cruising! We had a couple of awlgrip scratches and some teak damage, but overall, no major damage. Others in the same marina were not as lucky. There were multiple sunken boats and broken masts were everywhere. Entire docks were condemned.
We were lucky.
HURRICANE GUIDELINE #1.
Remove all sails. Period, no argument. A furled jib is 35-50 feet long and at best is wrapped for about a foot. Time after time after Hurricane Charley, we saw broken masts from boats where sails were left on. Even wrapping the roller furled jib or mainsail with extra line is no guarantee that the 140 mile plus forces of a hurricane won’t unfurl just enough to bring down the mast. Don’t take the risk. If you leave your boat anywhere in the hurricane zone, take off the sails.
In fact, we were already in the habit of removing our sails and storing them below while we were gone and found that there’s a peripheral benefit .. the sails last longer not being outside exposed to tropical weather’s forces and the sun’s UV. Our 10 year old Mack Sails are in great shape, and we attribute part of it to our habit of storing them below for 6 months.