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Getting Ready for a Hurricane

Below is the sequence of events, decisions and jobs that we as a ship make and deal with when faced with a hurricane on the way in the Canadian Maritimes.

D. Moreland


As of 1630 UTC – 1400 NFLD Time 2009-08-23 – Burgeo, Newfoundland Canada – light SEly winds fog and light rain – 12 M, up to 26M seas reported at La Have Banks bouy – DM

Hurricane BILL and storm preparations for PICTON CASTLE

On Monday August 17 while at anchor at Cap aux Meules, Magalene Islands we became aware (through communications with our office and NOAA weather fax maps as well as e-mails from fellow mariners) that there was a TS well east of the Caribbean developing into a Hurricane that could possibly become a concern for vessels operating in the NW Atlantic region. We began to examine possibilities, options and issues to do with preparation for such a storm. Informed crew of the possibility of such a storm, and its implications for the ship.

On Tuesday August 18 decided that the best course of action was to find a secure berth in a well protected port.

Began examining the possibilities of putting into Port Hawkesbury, Sydney, Port Aux Basques, Burgeo, St Pierre, Gaultois and Fortune.

On Wednesday August 18 after examining charts and Sailing Directions settled on trying Burgeo in south western Newfoundland first in that if it was unsuitable for any reason then there would still be time to seek alternative shelter prior to predicted arrival of hurricane between 22-24.

On Thursday August 20 sailed into Port Burgeo in thick fog and made contact with locals regarding berth at old fish plant in Short Reach – confirmed our intentions with Port Aux Basques Coast Guard. Fish Plant berth in narrow well protected cove of Short Reach confirmed as both a good heavy weather berth and available so proceeded to that berth and moored.

Monitored BILL’s track and forecasts by way of Atlantic Briefing fax maps, VHF radio forecasts, contact w/staff at office, consultation with local mariners and mariners at sea and along the coast, TV and internet information.

On Saturday August 22 continuing 23, commenced direct ship preparations including

– orientation of situation to crew and updates

– communications with office and ships complement

– securing safe storm berth

– extra mooring lines

– chafe gear

– extra fenders

– swept wharf to remove debris

– extra gaskets on all sails – two blocked some halyards to reduce chafe

– nipping running rigging to reduce chafe

– removal of flags

– extra lashings about ship

– securing of ships boats by hauling them up ashore nearby

– continue to monitor all WX forecasting and reporting sources

– log WX changes and Barometric changes through out period

– consider possible medical implications with Doctor

Procedures during storm

– WT doors, hatches and portholes – remove gangway

– watches

– bracing yards to the wind direction to reduce windage

– emergency evacuation if needed

So all is well and the ship and crew are fine. But the story isn’t over…



Nothing really to report from last night – all is well. There was quite a bit of wind but this is a pretty protected spot so we didn’t see much in the way of surge or swell. The crew are in good spirits, the ship’s fine, all is well. We’re all hands this morning to work on downrigging hurricane precautions – getting extra gaskets and heavy duty chafe gear off, getting heads’l halyards and stay and fish tackles rigged up again. Current weather is warm and sunny, a little bit of wind from the north and the sky is clearing. There’s a weather station here, I’m curious to see what the max wind speed was here last night – will check it out and let you know. Maggie


Plan to get going tomorrow – still 6-8m sea out there today – might spend a night at a nearby island, maybe not – need to start heading SW towards the Burg – ship and crew fine – this will be the true end of the Voyage of the Atlantic here this weekend. Need to get in on Saturday, some flts on Sunday – dm


From: office
Sent: August 25, 2009 1:56 PM
To: ship
Subject: next hurricane in the works

Hi, This shouldn’t affect your passage back to L’burg, but there is a new hurricane brewing just north of the Turks and Caicos. It isn’t a circular storm yet, but NOAA has put the chances of it developing into one in the next 48 hours as high. It turns up on your wx fax maps as ‘gale’ and ‘possible tropical cyclone’, depending on which map you look at. I’ll keep an eye on it. Have you received the recent maps showing the nasty low and cold front going through tomorrow? Lynsey


Lynsey – Yeah, we have seen that new hurricane developing that BILL paved the way for, looks like it will make same track, but we should be in by then. That nasty low from interior Canada looks like it is getting bumped up a bit and is supposed to pass north of Newfoundland, it will still be a foul wind tomorrow evening but probably not too strong if we are off cape Breton and we might anchor up tomorrow night and let the wind veer to west after the front. Sweet sailing right now, just sailed off the dock in Burgeo and are closed hauled on a starboard tack making south true with sunny skies and a nice swell left over.

See you soon back in Lunenburg


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