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18 Steps to Properly Prepare this Cyclone Season

18 Steps to Properly Prepare this Cyclone Season

3rd February 2023

18 Steps to Properly Prepare this Cyclone Season

If you have a Berth Agreement with Breakwater Marina between 1 November and 30 April, it is requisite to your mooring conditions that you comply with these measures to best protect your boat and those boats around yours from damage.
Experience has proven that in the event of a cyclone passing a Marina, the danger can be significantly reduced by early preparation by boat owners. 

18 Steps To Properly Prepare for Cyclone Season:

  1. CHECK THE CONDITION OF YOUR BOAT – the absolute first thing to do at the very start of Cyclone Season is to run a full vessel check of all systems, equipment, the hull and super-structure so you and your family understand what preparations will be necessary and that you have the resources and time to fix, upgrade and stow away everything in readiness for severe weather.

  2. Review your own CYCLONE EMERGENCY PLAN – set-out a checklist of all the measures you need to attend to that gets your boat ready to withstand the intense wind and rain, and that ensures you are evacuated and well out of harms way when the inevitable severe weather hits. Don’t wait til there’s an approaching storm to start this.

    1. Prepare a Cyclone Emergency Kit – This Kit should contain the provisions you need for your essential needs in the event of an emergency; whether you’re sheltering in place or evacuating. The Kit should include your personal identification, important documents and medications with enough clothes and supplies ready for evacuation. Make sure your vessel and personal insurances are adequate and current.
    2. Prepare a Cyclone Evacuation Plan for you and your family – know your nearest safe high ground and the safest access to it in the event of storm surge. Take into account the special needs of infants, the elderly and disabled…… and don’t forget your pets.
    3. Check your neighbours are prepared, and check your emergency contact details are current with the Marina office. Refer to Townsville’s Local Disaster Management Group page for locations of shelters and evacuation centres.

  3. MOORING LINES – Having plenty of rope, in good condition, that are fit for purpose and suitably rated for your vessel is the best and cheapest defence you have to minimise the risk of damage to your boat in the event of a Tropical Storm.

    1. Check your ropes – Tropical Storms and Cyclones bring strong winds, high peak gusts, variable wind directions and surges all of which place higher loads on your ropes, increasing the risk of them breaking. Ropes deteriorate in UV and the loss of strength can be unnoticeable until they’re subject to stress. Check the condition of your mooring ropes and make sure they’re fit for purpose and load rated to suit your vessel.
    2. Man-made synthetic fibres such as polyethylene, polypropylene and polyester deteriorate in sunlight.  Polyester has the greatest resistance to UV degradation, but all will deteriorate over 1 to 3 years.  The deterioration is not gradual, but occurs very rapidly once the UV damage commences.
    3. Updating your ropes is your cheapest and most effective defence to minimising damage to your boat. Using proper mooring rope and having plenty of it is proven to be effective in keeping your vessel secure in its berth.
    4. Tropical Storms and Cyclones produce intense winds that place enormous loads on your mooring lines, causing them to stretch. In preparation for this, adjust the position of your boat in its berth and run multiple spring lines so the vessels doesn’t ride up onto the floating pontoons and run the risk of being holed or damaging the pontoons. 
    5. Deploy as many FENDERS around your boat as you can to keep your boat from rubbing heavily on the pontoons and away from neighbouring vessels. keep them low to the water to lessen the chance of them riding up on top of the pontoons.
    6. DO NOT use chains to secure your boat.  Chains have no ability to stretch, where ropes have a certain amount of give. 
    7. DO NOT hook anchors or anchor chain to walkways or pylons. Anchors may be lowered in the Marina berth to the sea bottom. Ensure there is enough slack for the rise and fall of the vessel due to tide and swells.
    8. DO NOT rope your vessel to marina pylons or the pylon brackets as this can jam the rollers and critically damage the pontoons. Similarly, don’t rope to marina pedestals or fire fighting equipment. If you have few dedicated tie-off points onboard then use secure elements like winches, mast stays, the base of the mast, top deck supports and davit frames.

  4. DOUBLE YOUR NUMBER OF MOORING LINES – run a full set of additional ropes as a back-up to your standard set. These duplicate ropes should use alternate tie-off points so in the event there’s a cleat or line failure, your boat will sit securely at your berth. The strongest recommendation is to run as many lines as possible so the loads are effectively distributed and that includes lines from the side of your boat that is not dockside. Where cyclone rings are available, make use of them.

  5. REDUCE WIND LOADINGS to a minimum. Any surface that catches wind adds further load to your mooring lines, tie-off points and the pontoons. Remove all canopies and covers, and deck gear including lifebuoys, etc and store them below.

  6. YOUR SAILS – remove or heavily lash down all furled sails, Main Sails and covers. If removing your sails is not possible, double wrap or lash these components in such a way that the wind cannot tease the ends out which increases the wind loading and the stress on your mooring lines.

  7. STOW ALL LOOSE GEAR boat hooks, buckets, fishing gear, life rings, boarding steps, jerry cans, inflatable dinghies and bicycles are examples of items that often become airborne in severe weather. If you can’t stow your gear below deck then make sure it is securely fastened on deck or in your cockpit. Your equipment is not permitted to stay on the pontoons.

  8. SECURE YOUR TENDER - Dinghies may stay on deck, on your davits or in the water but they must be securely fastened so they don’t become an airborne projectile. It’s advised that outboard engines are removed and stowed below deck. Where dinghies remain on deck or on davits, add extra ropes to secure them in place, remove bungs and tilt them so they drain.

  9. Ensure all SELF DRAINAGE openings are clear and will remain that way so the torrential rain can drain off your boat quickly and doesn’t pool. 

  10. CLOSE HATCHES & STOP LEAKS - any deck openings like hatches, vents, windows and doors are sealed and any known leaks are stopped. 

  11. BILGE PUMPS - Check that all pumps are operational and are switched to automatic when you leave your vessel. Importantly, check you have no pollutants in your bilge that could be discharged in to the Marina.

  12. SHORE POWER - make sure you use an outdoor approved lead with a waterproof skirt. When a Cyclone Condition Red is issued, you will be required to disconnect all shore power, water and gas lines and turn off your on-board appliances. Remember, to prepare early for the Marina to isolate power so make sure your batteries are charged.

  13. When a CYCLONE WARNING (CONDITION BLUE) is issued for the Townsville area, all persons boarding or leaving their vessel must notify the Marina Office of their movements.

  14. EVACUATION – As an intensifying weather system approaches, voluntary evacuation to shelter is best done during CYCLONE WATCH (CONDITION YELLOW) or at the latest during CYCLONE WARNING (CONDITION BLUE). Gather your Emergency Kit, loved ones and pets and leave early before conditions become dangerous. The order may be issued to evacuate all persons from the Marina during CYCLONE STRIKE (CONDITION RED). The order to vacate is mandatory.

  15.  REGISTER, FIND, REUNITE – If you’re self-evacuating and will not be staying within an identified shelter, register your location via the ‘Register|Find|Reunite’ system available on the Australian Red Cross website.

  16. MOVING YOUR VESSEL - any vessels wishing to leave Breakwater Marina to seek shelter at other locations must do so before conditions deteriorate, as the Townsville Port Authority may close the Marina to all traffic. You are reminded that severe conditions bring rough seas, wind and torrential rain and these make manoeuvring your vessel dangerous.

  17. VESSELS ON AIR DOCKS - All vessels on airdocks must be lowered into the water to reduce wind loadings on CYCLONE WATCH (CONDITION YELLOW). Mooring ropes will need to be added to both the submerged air dock and the boat to secure them to the marina pontoon.

  18. LOOK AFTER YOUR PETS – where possible, keep your pets with you so you can comfort them but in the event evacuation from the Marina is necessary, you will need to have considered ‘pet friendly’ places to seek shelter. If you plan on using kennels, vets or friends places then remember to book early and get them there before travel becomes dangerous.

    At Breakwater Marina, the objective of our Cyclone Management is to minimize damage to property and maintain personal safety and we seek to support our customers and residents with their own planning and preparations. We encourage you to grab a copy of our Cyclone Management Plan for useful information about how to plan, how to prepare, to know the risks and how to be ready in each stage of a severe weather event.