Surviving Hurricanes

Words by Capt. Michael Worley | 2024 Charter Issue

 Hurricanes, who doesn’t love a good hurricane? Just about every boater on the planet!

Like death and taxes, we all have to deal with them at one time or another. In my case, in 25 years living on the Gulf Coast I have had to deal with 5. The last one being Hurricane Michael!  So how do we as boaters decide what to do to save our boats? Anyone you ask has their own answer. Then some beast like Michael shows up. It didn’t matter what you did or where you were unless you were 100 miles away, your boat is toast. 

We all have our ideas as to how to survive one. A lot depends on where it’s going to hit and what part of it is going to go over you. Dividing the system in 4s; the upper right quarter is the worst section to be in. If the Hurricane winds are 100 mph and it is advancing at 20 mph you will be hit with a 120-mph wind. If you’re on the left side of the hurricane your wind should be 100 mph– 20 mph advance or 80 mph. The upper right also gets the storm surge to add insult to injury. The left will have less of a storm surge. But then there was Michael! It didn’t make any difference. The further away from the center the better you were, the better chance your boat has of surviving.

My first hurricane was taken at a private dock. Just two boats were there: my 42 ft. pilothouse sailboat with the mast stored on the dock and a 42 ft. Mainship power boat. Winds were about 100 mph. The dock was stout with massive poles and Jammin, my boat, was centered in the middle of 8 pilings. As was the powerboat.  My overall windage was 6 feet of freeboard and she was 34 ft on the waterline. The Mainship was all windage and about 12 feet of freeboard up to her flybridge. Lines were doubled and crossed. I was on my boat and watched the Mainship take a beating. He had left his Bimini up and it was shredded, and it also acted like a sail. The framework was ripped on the starboard side and was flapping in the wind and slapping my pilothouse.

Read the rest of this story and see more great photos – Click Here!

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