August 02, 2006
Although we haven't had to deal with anything more than some fast-moving storms, several squalls and more than a few earth-shattering thunder and lightning storms this season, being proactive during any hurricane period is the only way to stay ahead of danger.
Keep in mind that the stormy, summer events, which are a part of any tumultuous meteorological passage, will stay in place until November and don't lose focus. Hurricanes move fast and if you are at least semi-prepared for your vessel's well-being, you're more than likely to breathe a sigh of relief after the eye of the storm has passed.
In a recent press release from BoatUs.com, the respected organization has made predictions for our area about how well your local marina would fare in a really bad storm like Katrina. I mentioned this last week and promised further information that would prove helpful to all our local boat owners who keep their vessels in the water and cannot find a "hole" on land to stash them when the weather turns ugly.
The following is a list of their recommendations that involve something as simple as rope; but has proven to be uppermost in saving a vessel from destruction during a hurricane.
Breaking Strength: BoatUS warns that this tensile strength can be determined by actually wrapping some new rope around two large diameter capstans and slowly tensioning the line until it breaks.
Braid-on-braid line has the most strength, followed by pleated and tri-strand. So, the strongest line would likely have the best chance of surviving a hurricane force. Next is something called stretch and this is essential as it acts as a shock absorber for energy, keeping in mind that the weave cannot only stretch, but expand and contract.
Chafe and cleat location appear next on the BoatUS. list, remembering that a line secured to a cleat must increase its own distance to allow it to have more room to be stretched. You should also be aware that when the line is bent sharply to the water, only about half the rope fibers are dealing with the full load. Compression makes the other 50% just about ineffective.
The age of the rope happens to be a very important component as well. Remember that nylon hairs woven together are much thinner than your own human hair so avoid dirt and salt at all costs. Sunlight also weakens fiber along with chemicals. If you notice that your nylon lines have become hard and stiff, replace them immediately.
The line quality is of extreme importance. Pre-shrunk with a lubricant added is always a plus. Soft-lay braided rope should be avoided as it fails more often than not.
So boaters, keep all these tips in mind. I did not come up with them on my own but have searched the archives of wise advice to bring to you the best that boating can deliver. Stay safe during this hurricane season. Follow all the suggestions of those who are replete with years of knowledge.