Hurricane season is upon us again and we are all watching weather maps to be ready and prepared. Much of the knowledge and information we acquire is accumulated from years of experience and listening to others. Most of us have assets at risk which are exposed to wind and sea. Our Marco boating citizens have been challenged by the forces of Mother Nature and prepared in advance on numerous occasions. There is not a better resource when you need ideas on how to better prepare for severe storms than listening to others who have successfully weathered them. Wouldn’t it be helpful to solicit input from our neighbors?
The first week in September we had a close call with Hurricane Hermine. Many of us had to anticipate an unknown path and take necessary precautions to protect our property. Depending on our confidence, we can either leave the boat in the water or have it removed. If the boat is small enough, we simply put it on our trailer and park it in a safe place. Once the boat is out of the water make sure the drain plug is removed so the boat doesn’t fill with water, which can cause severe damage to the boat and trailer. Leaving the vessel in the water is an option, but also has greater risk.
Typically, Coast Guard Cutters and Navy ships leave port when a storm is imminent, because heavy winds and extreme tides and surges are too dangerous. When in port, double up bow and stern lines, also spring lines must be adjusted to compensate for extreme tides. All lines must have fair leads so they don’t get tangled or chafed. Frequently it is not your vessel which is the problem, but someone else who hasn’t been as cautious and their boat causes damage to others. Double-check the automatic bilge pump. Remember, if a hurricane had an attitude it might be: “Whatever isn’t tied down is mine for the taking, and if I can pry it lose, it wasn’t tied down.”
The Cleat Hitch
Walk down any dock, and you’re bound to see a bad cleat hitch — either a tangled mess of excessive line or a series of insufficient loops that will slip apart under strain. The trick to a good cleat hitch is to keep it simple: Three turns around the cleat’s horns; no more, no less. Pass the line once completely around the cleat’s base (under the horns); next, make a figure-8 over the two horns; finally, turn the line under itself to make a half hitch.Often you’ll see people layer on the turns, crossing and re-crossing the cleat. Extra turns provide no extra holding strength. None. What’s worse, they may make it more difficult to untie if things start moving fast.