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The Best Hurricane Hole Marinas in the Chesapeake, Carolinas, Georgia, and Florida


Post by Becky at Dockwa - Published on 5/21/20 9:58 AM
Whether your floatplan has you tucked into the Gulf or leap-frogging the shore of the Atlantic Coast, every boater should have a strategy at the ready for the worst case scenario.

Some boaters haul out at the first sign of serious weather, keeping their boats securely stored on land, but that's not always an option for cruisers, liveaboards, and boaters making the migration north. For those who are weathering the storms with your keels still in the water, here's our list of some of the most highly-noted hurricane hideouts from the Chesapeake Bay to southeast Florida.

 

When it comes to evading serious storms, having a safe harbor for your home on the water is paramount and it ultimately falls to each boater to do his or her own due diligence when making the decision as to where to tie up. We've compiled research tips, as well as some suggestions for marinas to consider. Please stay safe, check out our COVID-19 resource hub for tips on boating during the coronavirus, and let us know if we can do anything to help you find dockage as hurricane season begins!

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What Makes a Marina or Harbor a 'Hurricane Hole'?

One key characteristic of a hurricane hole is, of course, its location. The ideal location for a boat in a storm is a harbor that is sheltered from wind and waves on four sides, by land that rises well above sea level – not simply a man-made breakwater. 

When it comes to a marina's docks, we’ve heard competing theories: on one hand, a marina with floating docks and sturdy pilings that extend well above high tide can rise to match the storm surge. On the other, fixed slips aren’t in danger of giving way as easily as floating piers. Investigate each marina on a case-by-case basis. Also assess how high the fixed pier is off the water level, and how new the docks are. Either way, the more spacious the slips, the better, so that vessels have room to swing without the risk of collision. 

The marina & harbor history also plays a part. Marinas rarely remain exactly the same season after season – a large part of the reason forums are so crucial to cruisers, as captains continuously share intel in order to help their fellow mariners make the best decisions for their vessels. If one season a marina’s docks are badly battered by a storm, the following season your research should focus on what work the marina has done to rebuild. With regard to the surrounding town: although a marina may have a reputation for being a hurricane hole, if the town has undergone development that new construction could damage a harbor’s natural protective elements. 

How to Find Out if a Marina is Open, Closed, or Damaged By a Hurricane

Our sister-site, Marinas.com rolled out Marina Status Alerts: a new tool for marinas and boaters to communicate more efficiently in any emergency situation, like a hurricane, flooding, or coronavirus outbreak, that may require a full or partial closure. Active Alert statuses will appear in the top banner across Marinas.com’s homepage, and when a marina has updated its Alert status – be it Open, Closed, or Partial Closure – that status will appear on the marina profile as well as in this centralized Alerts page.

Anchorage Marina

 

Hurricane Holes in Chesapeake Bay 

Baltimore is an excellent safe harbor, completely protected on all sides.

The team at Anchorage Marina are open and available for boaters looking for a safe haven. Plus, they offer slips for vessels up to 250 '. 

Smithfield Station

 

  • Rock Hall Landing Marina, Rock Hall, MD, has slips available for boats ranging from  35' to 100' LOA.
  • Coan River Marina in Lottsburg, VA, sits to the south of the bay in the Lower Chesapeake, and can take boats up to 50'. 
  • Smithfield Station Marina, just up the James River from Norfolk, VA, can accommodate vessels of up to 80' LOA.

Reserve Dockage in Chesapeake Bay

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Hurricane Holes in North Carolina

  • Wilmington Marine Center is nestled in an enclosed basin off of Cape Fear, providing boaters with the comfort of no currents or wakes throughout their stay. Fun fact: It is also a North Carolina Clean Marina!
  • River Dunes Marina in Oriental, NC, is a protected marina with floating docks, transient dockage, and the marina has generators for the fuel pumps in case the power goes out. 

Reserve Dockage in North Carolina

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Hurricane Holes in South Carolina

  • Windmill Harbour Marina is one of the most secure locations you can find in rough weather. It is over over five miles from the shore in Hilton Head, SC. This marina has a very rare harbor lock system, which helps keeps boats secure during strong surges and tides, as well as any swells and rough seas.



Reserve Dockage in South Carolina

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Hurricane Holes in Georgia 

  • Thunderbolt Marine is located on a 25 acre site on the Wilmington River three miles southeast of Savannah. There are no height restrictions when approaching from Wassaw Sound. Beyond the 750' of available floating dock space they have a long standing tradition of fresh Krispy Kreme doughnuts delivered to your vessel each morning, which makes the marina a favorite stop along the ICW anytime of year.

Reserve Dockage in Georgia

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Hurricane Holes in Florida 

  • Gulfport Marina has plenty of space in it’s private inlet with over 250 slips. Along with an excellent man-made cove for protection, the marina is over 3 miles inland from the coast.

  • Burnt Store Marina is surrounded by many buildings to protect the private cove from any strong winds, seas and surges. It is also located several miles inland. This 200 slip marina gives each boater plenty of space to securely tie up their vessels.

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  • River’s Edge Marina is located in St. Augustine. Protected by three separate inlets, this 100 slip marina is almost 3 miles from shore. The distance provides great protection along with an excellent reputation for weathering storms in the past.

Reserve Dockage in Florida

For additional information on how best to prepare and secure your vessel for a hurricane, check out this great article by BoatUS.  

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Post by Becky at Dockwa

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