Hurricane Preparedness Survey

Hurricane Preparedness Survey & Lessons Learned

This is a survey that was distributed a number of years ago after Hurricane Isabel came thru the marina. The questions asked can be used as a guide for you as our next hurricane or Nor ‘easter comes through the marina.  At the bottom of the Survey is a LESSONS LEARNED blog written by the staff. We recommend both articles for your consideration as you prepare for Weather-related incidents.


Dear Fellow GPYC Marina Member,

This survey was sponsored by the GPYC Boaters Club.  Its intent was to collect lessons learned from Hurricane Isabel in order to develop conclusions, make recommendations and implement methods to minimize boat damage during hurricane season.  Many members participated and here are the questions that were asked. All of them are “food for thought”.



1.  What general method did you employ to prepare your boat to weather Hurricane Isabel:  (ie remained in slip, hauled and trailered, hauled and cradled locally, hauled and cradled out of area, got underway and evaded, anchored, shifted slips to a larger vacant one, etc.)

2.  What extraordinary measures did you use in implementing your method of choice (ie tripled my lines, anchored to a tree after cradling, etc).



1.  Can you briefly describe the damage sustained by your boat or other consequences (wound up two miles inland in a marsh) directly as a result of Hurricane Isabel or indirectly as a result of the method you chose to prepare your boat for the hurricane? (ie hull stove in, rod rigging destroyed,  electronics inop, engine flooded, total loss, etc.)

2.  Please estimate your total boat damage related costs, whether or not covered by insurance, which resulted in any way from Hurricane Isabel.



1.  Do you feel your choice of hurricane preparedness method for Isabel was appropriate?

2.  Whether or not you assess your chosen hurricane preparation method as appropriate, what could you have done differently to make your method more successful?

3.  In hindsight knowing how the hurricane played out, would you have chosen a different hurricane preparation method for Isabel?



1.  In considering future hurricanes with the inherent uncertainty regarding category level, wind direction and tidal surge level at arrival, would you consider choosing the same method, possibly employing improvements to that method as you discussed above, in 2004?

2.  Do you feel the Boaters Club common preparation for Isabel (extra lines in dock box, membership alerts and data exchange via email, assistance with boat handling on dock prior…) was appropriate?

3.  What more would you like to see your Boaters Club do?



1.  The data you provided was combined with other sources (NOAA, BoatUS, USCG, FEMA etc.) and analyzed in order to prepare a report to the Boaters Club membership and GPYC management.  It will be posted on the Boaters Club web page for open distribution as well.  It will contain recommendations on successful hurricane preparation methods with pros and cons for boaters and additional recommendations for management.  The report will also be the first step in building the GPYC Boaters Club Disaster Preparedness Plan.

Do you have any final recommendations or comments you would like to see incorporated in this report?


Lessons Learned

Hurricane Isabel (18 September 2003) was an unusually severe storm for our area, and our Boaters’ Club members prepared in a number of different ways. A large number of boats evacuated the marina and opted for haul-out at another local marina. Boat US and a number of other experts recommend this as the approach most likely to avoid damage. This recommendation is based on a large amount of data compiled nationwide over the years. Unfortunately, Isabel was accompanied by enough tidal surge water to float the hauled boats off their jack-stands and, when the water receded, to pile them up, causing quite a bit of damage. This phenomenon was noted up and down the Chesapeake Bay and was not unique to our locale.

On the other hand, boats that remained in the marina were also damaged. Smaller boats that were secured were not damaged, while some larger, beamier boats stretched or broke dock lines and banged against one another, causing severe rub-rail and topside damage. One or two small boats that were not secured caused damage to larger boats in adjacent slips. One large cruising yacht was moored a short way up river from the marina and was unscathed. One of our smaller yachts was moored in one of the shallow-water creeks and was also unscathed. On the other hand, one boat was moored up the Nansemond River, broke loose, ended up nearly a mile inland, and had to be manually hauled across the swamp to deep water.

Lessons we may glean from this are:

1. If you haul your boat, do not under estimate the ability of the storm surge to float it off its cradle or jack-stands. If you cannot find a high-ground marina, consider filling your boat with enough water to keep if from floating. This might cause some water damage but will avoid possible and costly hull repair.

2. If you do not haul your boat, add additional lines and, again mindful of the surge, try to secure dock lines to more than one piling, preferably the tallest pilings you can reach.

3. If you do not haul your boat, consider working with the marina staff to use the slips emptied by those who do haul to provide more space between the boats that remain.

4. If you moor-out, use extra heavy ground-tackle and chain and at least two anchors.

Another bit of advice that emerged had to do with the wide range of repair estimates received by members. We hope you won’t need such services, but there appears to be good reason to shop around.