Big Winds – Be Prepared

Greetings from the BCYC marina, where all the boats are Bristol and all the captains are valiant! The season for big winds has arrived and we recently had a taste of them. I was in the marina Sunday night before the rain, and the winds were southerly and blowing a steady 17 knots with gusts to 22 knots. It was indeed lively and a few boats were in need of dock line adjustments. The winds by Tuesday evening had increased to a steady 23 knots with gusts to 27 knots and, although westerly, were powerful enough to blow open a few unlocked dock box lids. This puts unnecessary stress on the lid hinges, and we request that if you don’t already have a lock, please invest in one, or find another way to secure the lid.

Now would also be a good time to inspect your dock lines for chafing and wear – if frayed, consider replacing them. When the winds are southerly, we get plenty of surge in the marina and dock lines will stretch and can chafe on hawseholes or screw heads. I do my best to keep an eye on things for you, but everyone should make certain their dock lines are not worn and their boat is secure to the dock. With the exception of the end ties, every boat should have four-point mooring lines to prevent unnecessary wear on your fenders and gelcoat, as well as fore and aft spring lines to prevent your boat from moving back and forth in the slip, and possibly contacting the dock. Allow your dock and spring lines to take the strain of surge from wind and waves instead of your fenders and hull. It’s better for your boat’s nice finish.

Properly securing your dock line to the cleat isn’t difficult either. I have seen some very creative ways our marina tenants use to secure their boat’s lines to the dock cleats. A simple round turn around the cleat horns with a figure-eight locking loop is sufficient. There is no need for a bird’s nest of line wrapped multiple times around the cleat. Instead, try flemishing the leftover line, coiling it flat on the dock. It looks tidy and takes less time to unwrap when you, or I, need to adjust your lines. If you are uncertain how to do this, next time you see me walking the docks, I’ll be happy to help you.

Check that your hatches are properly dogged down and secured. I left one of my small hatches slightly open over the forward head and was surprised how much rainwater entered overnight. Canvass covers are another item to check for being secured. I have rescued a few Duffy covers that were half in the water and half on the dock. Last Christmas Eve, the wind flipped the large temporary canopy tent completely upside down on the east side of the clubhouse, taking out several of the portable heaters with it. The wind can be a powerfully destructive force if we don’t prepare for it. Next time you visit your boat, take a few minutes to check the security of your lines, covers and shore power cords. It will be time well spent.

Mark Jensen, Port Captain