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Oma – Named Peril - Forewarned is Forearmed!

by John Curnow 19 Feb 20:02 PST
Anticipated trajectory of Tropical Cyclone Oma © Bureau of Meteorology

Her name is Tropical Cyclone Oma. Her trajectory is not certain by any means, but is important to utilise the knowledge of the past, and prepare now, whilst there is still ample, usable time. At this stage, and based on the latest information from the Bureau of Meteorology, which comes form their computer modelling, sometime around noon on Wednesday 27 February, 2019 there is a high probability that Oma will make landfall. Exactly where is somewhat challenging to predict, but it is a good chance it will be between Fraser Island and the Queensland/NSW border.

Whilst this is quite far South, it does mean that she will be in relatively colder water, which will diminish her power somewhat. This equates to becoming more like Category One or Two. Given that the Sunshine Coast and the greater Moreton Bay areas are boating havens, it is crucial to prepare now.

James MacPhail from Pantaenius Sail and Motor Yacht Insurance commented, “If Oma does make landfall, it will do some damage. It is still a significant storm at either Cat1 or Cat2. For Pantaenius customers we are emailing them now, which includes what they need to do as a responsible boatie.”

“No matter whether you are one of our customers or not, if you are on a swing mooring, then you need to relocate your boat now. This includes Hervey Bay, and all the way down to Moreton Bay in Brisbane. Yachts and cruisers do not survive well on swing moorings in tropical cyclones. For everybody who has a boat in the entre region you need to look at what sensible boating people do to prepare their craft should Oma hit where they are, or close to them.”

“Sustained winds of 100-150km/h do a lot of damage. This should not be taken lightly. Whether you are on swing mooring or in a marina, there are a lot of things you need to be doing. If you are on a mooring you need to relocate your boat. Put it up a river. Find a berth in protected marina, and they have plenty of capacity to take you in. If you are in the Moreton Bay area and cannot get in to a marina, then maybe you need to run South where it gets shallower channel areas, and they have a bit of protection and also offer reasonable holding.”

“If you can lift your boat out in the Manly or Coomera, even Mooloolaba areas, then you need to do that. I think there are a lot of near derelict boats up the top of the Noosa River, so there are potential hazards up there, but if you can find a place to attach to the mangroves well up the river, then you have a fair chance of surviving the storm with very little damage.”

“All the obvious things apply. If you have sails on furlers or under boom bags, then they need to come off. So too your soft canopies and clears, which includes the flying bridge on your powerboat. Do not come back to your insurer next week and say my clears got blown out in the storm. Be aware your insurer is not going to cover that risk.”

Anything that is going to flap around must be removed and stored off site, or stowed down below. This especially includes dinghies. “If you have an inflatable dinghy, then deflate it and store it inside. If you have a RIB or tinny, and you leave that on your boat and it does damage, then frankly you deserve that. Sink them or take them away to garage or shed. The whole world now knows that you should not be leaving them exposed to the storm on the foredeck or in the cockpit.

There is very little chance it will be there when you get back. However, there is a big chance it will have damaged itself, your boat, someone else’s craft, or even another living soul as it flies through the air.” Here is a short list of the kinds of things you need to be thinking about now. Not when Oma hits!

Double up on all lines Use extra line to double up the spring, bow and stern lines. Make sure the lines are in good condition and are of appropriate size. Position slip lines so that they reach higher up on the pilings. This aids in keeping the boat in place when the weather hits, and the water level rises.

Strip away canvas and sails Remove all sails and all sail covers, dodgers, enclosures, Biminis etc. Don’t leave any canvas or clear plastic products on your vessel. Remove any windage that could cause the boat to ‘sail’ during heavy winds.

Remove or sink dinghies Clear the deck of dinghies! If you have a hard dinghy then take it home with you, or pull out the bung and sink it in shallow water to shield it from potential damage. Dinghies must NOT be left on davits or in chocks on the foredeck or swim platform.

Hang out extra fenders Put out extra horizontal fenders of suitable quality onto pilings and the hull where contact can be expected. Use bargeboards to protect them from uneven wear. If moored stern to, then hang vertical fenders across the stern. Extra vertical fenders should also be hung on the side next to finger piers. Make sure fenders are of suitable size and are in good condition. Deflated fenders are of no value at all.

Add chafing gear Synthetic docking line has elasticity that allows it to spring back and forth when under pressure. This action, combined with the presence of sharp chocks can see an anchor or dock line completely cut through. To avoid this, use sandpaper to smooth the edges of chocks. Furthermore, use rags, canvas, split hose or PVC tubing where it passes over a rub rail/toe rail or goes through a chock.

Seal the seacocks Shut off all seacocks (turning the handle perpendicular to the hose), this includes the intake and discharge for the head, the sink and shower drains, engine raw water intake. N.B. The EXCLUSION to this is the cockpit drain seacocks, which drain rainwater.

Batten and tape hatches Secure all hatches and opening ports and tape around the inside edges for extra protection against water intrusion.

Secure Electronics, Charge Batteries, Check Pumps Shut down, and if possible disconnect all the electronic equipment, (this will save the electronics in the event of a lightning strike, which is not uncommon with Tropical Storms), ensure batteries are fully charged to run the bilge pumps. Test the float switch on each bilge pump by lifting the float switch tab, which should case the pump to start within a few seconds.

Anchors When anchoring in the mangroves, use as many anchors and lines attached to the mangroves as possible. Make sure all lines are of suitable size and are in good condition. The same applies to the anchors. Do not expect a 45-pound CQR to hold a 20 tonne boat. It needs to be a 90kg item!

Following these guidelines can really reduce the impact wild weather can have on your boat and your wallet. Furthermore it will minimise the potential damage to the property of others. Performing proper seamanship will also help you comply with the agreement you have with your insurer!

Below are links to articles relating to the experiences of Cyclone Debbie and the results of poor seamanship:

Debbie says there are 7Ps and 1C with Insurance

Debbie says the 8thP with Insurance is Patience

Debbie says the 8thP with Insurance is Patience (Pt.II)

Debbie says the 8thP with Insurance is Patience (Pt.III)

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