SIMPSON BAY–A yacht owner has suggested marinas in Simpson Bay Lagoon should close during hurricane season, unattended vessels should not be allowed to anchor in the Lagoon and those that are left should consider moving to safer regions or get hauled out at an appropriate boatyard.
The comments were made in the light of the real possibility of more frequent Category Five hurricanes striking the region in the future, adding to the debate on safety of vessels and marine infrastructure.
“Anyone considering a marina as an option is asking for a disaster, certainly if the storm is growing into a category where considerable damage can be expected,” the owner explained to The Daily Herald. “It’s akin to tying a boat up to a rocky shore with short lines. Marinas located in the hurricane zone should not be offering slips during hurricane season and certainly not to unattended vessels.
“Marinas are simply not constructed to cope with the extreme forces that a hurricane produces, such as high tides, surges and waves constantly slamming into wood or concrete piers that load stress onto the structures. A vessel tied onto cleats or piles will be adding many tons of snatching force as it reacts to winds coming from any direction, and no one is going to be around to adjust fenders or lines, or replace chafed gear in the middle of the storm.
“Masts can be destroyed and cause damage to other vessels. Indeed, much of the chaos in the Lagoon is caused by vessels dragging and crashing into other vessels. Catamarans tend to take off and land upside down. If marina management sees fit to offer these berths, then they should be held responsible for their own damage; cleats, piers, piles, power and water supply, and so on.”
Sources have indicated at least one marina made vessel owners liable for damage to its marina docks or assets by issuing summonses. Critics say that is distasteful when the cause of damage is, they say, natural, an act of God.
He continued: “If the plan is to tell owners to remove their vessels at the last minute for an approaching hurricane then management has to understand that they will be creating another disaster. There is no time for the owner to organise a proper response and therefore all these vessels will end up in the Lagoon without proper ground-tackle, causing damage to other vessels as they drag around in all directions.
“Anchoring in the Lagoon has proved to be a dangerous option and this area should never be considered a safe haven during hurricane season. If there was a ban on mooring in a hurricane I would be happy to comply, because you always have the option of hauling out at a boatyard. In short, marinas should close during hurricane season and use the downtime for maintenance, vacations, etc. If they haven’t made enough money in the high season then they are in the wrong business.”