Hi! Lenny Rudow here for BoatUS Magazine, and today we welcome Mike McCook. Mike has been with the BoatUS Catastrophe Team since 1983!
Whenever there’s a hurricane, disaster, or something like
that going on along the coast, BoatUS sends its team of surveyors like Mike to
go check everything out. People, I’m here to tell you nobody knows more than Mike
about what to do and not to do when it comes to boats and hurricanes. But what
we’re here to talk about today is how to choose a marina regarding hurricanes. You need to look for a couple of things. One, you want a marina that doesn’t appear to
be deteriorated, decrepit, or otherwise on its last legs. That’s just a visual
commonsense thing. You walk out the dock, you look at the cleats that are attached
to the dock, you look at the pilings, you look at the bolts. If it’s not bolted —
it’s just nailed together or the the cleats aren’t through-bolted — these are
not good signs. Try to go to a place that has a
hurricane plan already in mind for THEM. If they have a plan, you know they have
it on their mind and they’ve hopefully kept the marina in a condition that could
withstand a storm that otherwise might be disastrous. A marina should be well-
What do you mean well-situated? Well look around. Is there a
breakwater? Is a breakwater high enough? Is it in an area that’s surrounded by
hills or some physical barrier that will protect it? Is it way up in a
protected cove or up a creek or or up a river someplace where it’s out of the
windage and may have less of a chance or maybe I should say more of a chance for
any search type to dissipate so it’s not quite so bad there. So use your eyes, use
your senses, and use your common sense. If it doesn’t look good, it probably isn’t.
Now, if a marina takes a direct hit from a hurricane, there’s gonna be damage no
matter what, right?
That’s correct. Well, one of the things that that I’ve seen, if
pilings aren’t in good condition — they break or they snap off or they get pulled out of the mudline. Or they twist or the bolts fall
out or, worse, they’re corroded and fall apart. So you want to make sure that
the pilings are in good condition because that’s going to show you that
you know you need to pay attention to what you do. Don’t tie your boat to a
Now, we hear a lot about having your boat hauled out if a
hurricane’s coming. Are boats really safer up on shore?
One word: yes. They are. They’re probably above the surge tide 90% of the time. If you take the sails or the canvas and covers off the boat, you’ve reduced the windage. If they’re blocked —
properly — chained together, chained to the ground if possible, then you’re so much
better to be ashore. There’s no better way to protect a boat.
You know what I’ve always wondered, Mike? If your boat has to stay in the water, is it better to have
fixed pilings or a floating dock? I think floating docks are much better —
assuming that the pilings are high enough to accommodate any surge tide. You know, I’ve seen this more than once in storms where entire marinas have come up all over the pilings and floated off it to the beach someplace or broke it up. So
it’s important at the pilings are high enough. How high is high enough? Good
question. We can never predict exactly how high a surge tide will ever get, but
I think a good rule of thumb is 8 to 10 feet above the normal high tide of your
Now can a boat be successfully tied up securely on a fixed dock?
Well, certainly, boats have made it through storms tied to fixed docks. It’s important that they be tied properly, and I believe that you have a
Absolutely! If, folks, if you head over to our YouTube channel and look at
the hurricane playlis, you can find a video on how to properly secure your
boat for a hurricane.
Now wait a minute, we haven’t even talked at all about dry
Well dry stacks are a great thing and dry stacks are a good
place to put your boat — assuming that it was built to a standard to withstand a
hurricane. Many of the older ones were never built to that standard, or they
were built to a standard of lower wind velocity. And if it’s really old, the anchors, the anchor bolts that hold the whole building down, can be
deteriorated, the structure itself can be in some way
deteriorated. Let’s face it, they’re pretty much a tin building sitting up on steel
structures. Not a bad structure, but make sure it’s in good condition, make sure it
was built to withstand a hurricane, and also make sure there’s a plan at that
facility for what to do if the building comes down. Who is going to get the boats out? Where are they gonna go? How are they going to deal with them? We had a particularly bad boatel collapse during hurricane down a Texas this past year, and it was months before we got the boat out because the marina just didn’t
Now earlier you mentioned a breakwater. Just how important is it to
have a breakwater outside your marina? Very. It could be a floating breakwater
or it could be a fixed breakwater of stone. Fixed breakwaters have a tendency to
have, obviously, they have a fixed height. A big surge and the water will come over
the breakwater. Floating breakwaters probably serve a little better purpose
assuming they’re built to hurricane standards. They have a large tongue that
goes down into water that that helps knock down the energy. So look for that. But if you’re in a well protected area, it’s not essential, but if you’re an open
area or an area that you can look out and you can see the open water — we say a big fetch — and you really want to look for a breakwater.
You know, Mike, if I keep my boat in a marina, I pay a bunch of money for my slip, can’t I just leave it to the
marina to look after my boat? No. Unfortunately you can’t. It’s your
responsibility, and you need to take whatever action necessary to protect
your property. There certainly are hurricane clubs that are out there that
some people they usually focus on making sure you’re in the queue to get hauled
and blocked ashore as opposed to coming out and babysitting your boat. Some
hurricane clubs have programs like that, but pretty few and far between. So, no.
It’s your responsibility. Take that responsibility and protect your property.
So tell me, Mike, if I’m looking at a marina and they’re gonna haul my boat,
which is better — if it has a gravel parking lot or asphalt? Does it make a
difference? Sure it does. You don’t want dirt, mud, or
something that’s not going to be solid. You want to have a paved facility,
whether it be asphalt or concrete. If, for some reason, your marina is packed gravel, make sure that they put pads underneath the jack stand to spread that load a little bit so they don’t sink. We’ve had more
than one boat that has fallen over because the stands have sunk in soft
soil. So, you know, gravel, dirt, not such a good idea. Asphalt, OK; concrete, better. Tie down dead men, even best
Wow, that’s great info, Mike! Thank you so much. Well, folks, we hope you found this video helpful. If you
feel like it, click on that like button below, don’t forget to leave us comments.
If you have any questions, we will answer them. And of course check out the other
videos in our hurricane playlist.