Gurney's Inn
August 09, 2006

Message Boards and Hurricane Preparedness

A recent press release from BoatU.S. brought news regarding National Marina Day, which will take place on Saturday. Cooperating marinas will focus on local community attention to such themes as encouraging responsible boat use and the roles marinas play in generating economic activity. The celebration was the creation of the Association of Marina Industries in an attempt to highlight the importance of dependable local marinas.

For those marinas involved in the festivities, activities have been planned to encourage family-friendly paths to safe recreational boating. In some locations, barbecues, music, raffles and charity fundraisers will be part of the mix with safety demonstrations and the occasional beach cleanup.

"Marinas are more than just a locally-run small business; they are invaluable to the boater's lifestyle and fulfill a critical need by providing access and services," said Jim Schofield, Manager of the BoatU.S. Cooperating Marina Program. Schofield is also a member of the 2006 Marina Day Committee. For more information about the event, contact AMI at (202) 737-9774.

Another new focus of BoatU.S. has been the updating and sharing of information among boaters who own the same brand or model of boat. The association has recently created a new, free message board at that provides owners their own forum to share both ideas and information.

Their recent press release noted that boat owners can take part in a forum that includes over 250 boat brands, including power and sail. Unlike other message boards this one automatically displays listings of similar boats for sale in their online classified ads. According to the press release, the organization encourages boaters to start posting questions and comments, while creating further opportunities for vessel owners to communicate with each other.

"We are asking that boat owners jump in, but understand that it may be a little while for others to join in the discussion," said Terri Parrow, the vice president of BoatU.S. Internet Operations.

An added plus is that you don't have to be a BoatU.S. member to use their message board and anyone can view the postings. If you want to join the discussion or make a comment, a free registration is required.

While I hope we can all escape hurricane season unscathed, be aware that we are less than halfway through the time period allotted to these storms that plague our continent each year. BoatU.S. maintains a hurricane center, with an emphasis on proactive avoidance of damage.

One piece of trustworthy information involves the way that moorings are affected by large storms. Over the years, we have learned a lot about wind, waves and tidal surge so it is always important to update knowledge. During the past decade, we have benefited from discussions about traditional mooring anchors and dead weight, having learned that mushroom anchors can increase their hold tenfold if buried sufficiently in a muddy bottom.

As boaters, we are now aware that scope is an important factor in holding power at a mooring and that the angle of pull is a serious element when dealing with strong storms. The BoatU.S. website has excellent information about the helix, a type of anchor that basically makes many other traditional anchors obsolete. The comparison, as noted in a recent article about holding power, makes the helix look like a strong wood screw while the mushroom or dead-weight anchor appears as a thumbtack.

While the helix is not infallible, test studies rank it at the top of the scale compared to more conventional mooring anchors. However it must be installed by someone with expertise in the field of helix moorings to ensure the best performance. Luckily, the Northeast leads the list in the nation with installers who can set up this system with hydraulics, taking into account that bottom density and torque must be part of the mathematical equation.

This system, while innovative, now takes about an hour to install so it might be something you'd want to consider if your boat is in a mooring and stands a good chance of dealing with hurricane force winds and storm surge.

The past two years have been severe when hurricanes threatened and spread their fury over our coastlines. If you are not prepared, now is certainly the time to do so.

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