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Date: 17 January 2014. Beryl Lessons.

Tropical Storm Beryl came ashore in Jacksonville Beach, Florida in May of 2012. I, along with several other boats were in an anchorage just north of there in a small tributary called the North River. Eight of us chose to stay aboard and ride out the storm on our homes. During the time of the Beryl some lessons were learned.
 

Jacksonville Beach, Florida is where Tropical Storm Beryl made landfall.
North River anchorage, a tributary of the St. Marys River in Georgia where we anchored.


This photo was taken after the tropical storm had passed thru. Why do I know it was after the storm? Because one boat is missing -- he dragged!



The photograph was taken by a friend a bit further west on the river. The tree line is to the east.


The numbered boats: (the rest seen are tied to docks along the shoreline)
Yes, there were eight of us however more are further up the river and not shown in this picture. [Plus one fellow dragged and ended up in the trees. It's wasn't pretty, but insurance covered him.]

  1. Slow Dance, a catamaran (40'?)

  2. Seaweed, the cutest trawler ever at 23' (that's me!)

  3. Vindhler, a 40' steel sailboat

  4. In Ainneion, another 40' steel sailboat

First, please note that the catamaran (#1) is facing toward the north, while I (#2) am bow to the south. The two sailboats are facing westward. And that ladies and gents is why:


 
When anchoring it's best not to anchor right on top of other boats!


A boxy power boat such as mine has a lot of windage, therefore I will be far more affected by the direction of the prevailing winds. Not always though! And a sleek sailboat will more likely face into the currents. Now if that sailboat has a sunshade spread over the boom, then she's going to behave more like mine.

Often folks think they are being "friendly" by anchoring on top of another boat -- that's not a good idea, especially if your boat is going to react differently from the first boat in.


Rules of etiquette prevail: the first boat has priority.


Thus, if the first boat in has two anchors deployed fore and aft (so he is not going to swing) you need to make sure you either follow suit or anchor far enough away that you won't cause a middle of-the-night bump! Because I'm a power boat in a world of anchoring sailboats often I've chosen to anchor quite far from the pack. 

During Tropical Storm Beryl eight boats anchored up the North River. It branches off the St. Marys River at the border of Florida and Georgia. We had a VHF radio net operational and, excluding one boat, all of us chatted through the night. There is a certain camaraderie when you're out here, alone but with friends too.

From my Log Book, I note that the outer bans of the storm began arriving at 11 a.m. on 27 May. By 1430 (2:30 p.m.) winds were kicking. Nearly twelve hours later (at 0200 on 28 May) the eye arrived. It wasn't until nearly 9 the following morning that the winds calmed down to less than gale force. Gale force winds are those topping 35 mph.

I damaged a 3/4" 12-strand braid snubber. The outer braid chafed through, and the inner core was melted. That line was replaced by two three-strand lines: a 1/2" and 5/8" pair. Both of those had damage after the storm came through and were, of course, disposed of. A damaged rope is a useless one.

Still, we were quite fortunate. One fellow tied to a dock kept us up to date about the storm while watching the radar on his boat. It was handy to know when the rain bans were coming through. Knowing when the eye arrived allowed me to add another snubber line to my chain.

The best though was Ford Smith [http://captainford.com] aboard Solace. He was anchored further up the North River from us. Solace read his anemometer and let us know just how fast the wind was blowing. As I recall, it topped out at 49 knots -- pretty doggone fast for sustained winds. As you can see from this picture, the waves even in our protected area were kicking, even after the storm had passed us.
 


One fellow though, rather than keeping his VHF on, chose to shut his down to save battery power. I won't name him, but goodness knows the rest of us heard him being called on the radio in plenty of time for him to have deployed his second anchor. He ended up in 9' of water, with his mast tangled in the trees along the shore after he dragged!

The lessons learned from the Tropical Storm Beryl experience include:

  1. Have adequate snubber gear (I went through three snubbers during the storm)

  2. The VHF was comforting (friendship helps when things are ticking)

  3. Enduring bad conditions isn't so bad if you (er, I!) know it will end at a certain point

  4. A great anchoring system is imperative (a big anchor, all chain, AND a decent snubber system)

So, the chain was great -- worked well and without any worries about it chafing. My issues were all regarding the snubbers and for the next time I had a better system in place. That includes multiple snubbers attached at both ends to Seaweed.

I'd love to hear of your experiences during a storm.
And, what is your system for snubber chafe protection?

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