Preparing a vessel for stormy times

Hurricane season preparation

“Hope for the best prepare for the worst”. Thats the perfect hurricane season motto.

The first tropical wave of the season made its way to the Windward Islands. On an unusual straight east-west course, the depression stormed and undulated with hellish rain over Grenada and the ABC Islands to Nicaragua. In Marigot Bay, the maximum wind was 15 knots, with smooth water. Thats fine.

Rivercafe hurricane setup

It was a busy week, as we had to get the Rivercafe ready for the potentially upcoming storms that will hopefully not appear. According to Murphy’s Law: everything that can fly away will fly away. That’s why everything movable has to go below deck. From the stand-up paddles to the cushions. Moreover, no one is tempted to “transfer ownership”. There’s plenty of security in Marigot Bay Marina, but we also don’t want to lure anyone to take anything tempting with them. Out of sight is out of mind.

The stern of our boat is 2 metres away from the dock. 10 fenders and 8 mooring lines should be fine. The sails are secured, from wind and sun. Inside the ship most systems are shut down, seacocks and fuses supplied according to function. Water pumps and gas are switched off. The Rivercafe goes into “summer sleep”, our energy needs will drop by 2/3. As always, our boat is completely powered by solar energy, without shore power. We will be able to monitor everything on board remotely online from the USA and Europe. A good feeling.

We have decided to leave the Rivercafe in the water. Plan B would be to store it on dry land.

A brief digression for sailors: pros and cons of Hurricane storage

In my opinion, there are only two serious ways to “store” a vessel during Hurricane time if you don’t want to stay on board.

Dry storage on the hard

Impressive cranes lift the vessels ashore. Set down on massive stands, the boats are fastened to solid earth nails with heavy straps. The mast remains standing. In a few places, e.g. St. Kitts, ships are “buried”. Instead of being placed on stands, the hull is placed in a hole in the ground. An exotic exception.


  • Storage locations “on the hard” are mostly in safe place
  • Storage is covered by many insurance policies, but of course must be requested and confirmed beforehand
  • Every two years, a vessel should be taken out to dry land anyway, to check the valves and anodes. And to apply a new underwater painting. You can then combine this with the off-season and leave the boat ashore for 4-5 months
  • Once jacked up, you can put your boat out of your mind for a longer period of time


  • The vessel are stored very close together. If something bad happens, there is a domino effect. If one ship falls, it knocks over others and damages others. This happens, but rarely
  • Dry storage also does not allow for spontaneity. If you want your vessel earlier than planned, you can forget it, because no one moves others out of the way
  • You cannot stay on board
  • There is a high risk of catching cockroaches or similar unpleasant guests
  • After a few days on dry land, you need a new underwater paint job in any case, you must not forget the costs when calculating


Prices depend on the type of vessel, length and duration of storage. The longer, the cheaper per day. However, it not made to safe money. The price level is about the same as a berth in a marina. Overnight costs for the crew on land are added, as are the costs of the crane twice and the new underwater paint.

Thats how close vessels are stored on the hard

Domino effect in Nanny Cay

In the water in a marina

Many marinas are prepared for “summer guests” and experienced with hurricane season. The dockmasters usually look after the boats and change what is necessary – even if the owners are not on board. Owners can stay on board and in many marinas this creates a sailing community.


  • Not much to be considered in the planning
  • Flexible, because the owners can stay on board and you can start sailing at any time
  • There is enough time to do work on board


  • Depending on the vessel, some systems have to run from time to time. For example, watermakers or engine batteries. Someone has to take care of that
  • The underwater hull grows over. Either you dive to clean the hull or you need a new underwater painting
  • Dependence on quality of marina crew when not on board


Depends on type of vessel, length and duration. Approximately comparable to dry storage. However, electricity and water costs are then added. Less the costs for overnight accommodation.

So, as always with sailing, it remains a question of preference. The prices are nearly similar, so you follow your personal preferences. We are positive that we have made a good decision.

And now to the USA and Europe

On Saturday we will fly out of St Lucia for two months. We will leave the Rivercafe in the care of the marina crew and friends who are also moored here. We are looking forward to a break from sailing and, after so much nature, to real cities again. Our first stop is New York, the best choice to make up for an urban deficit. And soon we will be back in Europe for a few weeks. We look forward to seeing many of you again soon. / Holger Binz


4 thoughts on “Preparing a vessel for stormy times”

  1. Juergen Cyganek

    Ein großes Hallo an Euch Zwei. Das ihr jetzt ein Segelaus nehmt und es klingt als würdet ihr es gerne tun….. smile. New York ist immer eine Reise wert – besuchen ja aber Leben nein: das ist zumindest meine Meinung. Ich war hier etwas inaktiv, das lag daran das auch ich eine Pause von Europa genommen habe. Ich war mit meinem Freund und jeder von uns mit einer Harley Davidson auf der Route 66 unterwegs…. Computer tabu.
    So jetzt wünsche ich Euch eine tolle Zeit in New York… immer eine Reise wert.
    Liebe Grüße
    Jürgen und Angelika

  2. Annelies Dobler

    Wir wünschen Euch beiden eine schöne und spannende Auszeit vom Segeln. Herzliche Grüße vom Bodensee Annelies

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