lives in south Florida (yet) where there is an abundance
of man made canals that offer good protection. If
you do have them available, try to select a canal
that is as far inland as possible, and, most especially,
one that is parallel, not perpendicular, to the shore
There are two reasons
for this. One is that waterways, be they rivers or
canals, tend to funnel the wind and waves, allowing
the storm surge to rise even higher, along with greater
wave height. A canal parallel to the shoreline completely
prevents this. Secondly is the domino effect. When
boats upwind of yours break loose, guess what's going
to happen? Yep, they come smashing into your boat,
so perpendicular waterways are doubly dangerous. After
Andrew, there were such canals where every single
boat on that canal ended up in a smashed pile at the
end of the canal, so don't underestimate this danger.
Large numbers of boats
are located off large bays or sounds, which are also
dangerous. You have to get away from the lee shores
of big bays. You've heard the term "fetch?"
If not, fetch is the distance wind and waves that
can travel before they reach your boat. Fetch
is something you only want in small doses, like not
more than 200 feet or so.
Opal at Choctawatchee Bay, I identified numerous little
fingers and tributaries that curved off the lee shore
of the bay. These would be tributaries that hook around
behind the main shoreline. Many of these proved to
be quite secure locations, despite the fairly high
storm surge. The illustration shown above will help
give you an idea of what kind of areas might be reasonably
safe. Note that the southern side of the bay (at right)
as long as it is away from the narrow sandy stretches
of beaches, provided lots of potential sites. Moreover,
storm surges were highest at the inlet near Destin
where large numbers of boats were destroyed. Yet the
inland areas north of Ft. Walton were fairly secure,
mainly due to a lack of fetch. Most boats in that
However, if you're
particularly observant, you will have noticed an error.
The yellow "safe" area show along the northern
shore of the bay is not safe at all. Why not? Because
of the 5 mile fetch of the bay that would produce
large waves on the northern shore.
Problem of Complacency
of a Good Dock
About Floating Docks?