In 2008 the Marina Gangplank Wharf, located in Washington D.C., USA, published a revised version of a ‘Severe Weather Preparedness Plan’. This plan is designed to provide slipholders and marina employee’s guidance with respect to the actions the marina will take at the approach of severe weather and/or hurricane landfall in the Washington Metropolitan Area.

The plan describes the slipholders duties and responsibilities and how to survive direct hits from hurricanes. The plan draws upon lessons learned from the landfall of the remnants of Hurricane Isabel (Metropolitan Area 2003), Hurricane Andrew (Miami 1998), Hurricane Katrina (Louisiana/Mississippi 2004) and Hurricane Rita (Texas 2004). It also describes the responsibilities of ship-owners in case of an emergency and states very clear: “The marina will not prepare your vessel for you” (p.7). In case of a severe storm, the marina will set up a severe weather response team. It will consist of the Dockmaster, the Director of Maintenance, the Assistant Director of Maintenance, the Assistant Dockmaster, the Office Manager and all maintenance staff.


Main part of the emergency plan is the description of four levels of severe weather preparedness.

Phase Four: During hurricane season (June 1 to November 30), the marina will continuously maintain Phase Four status. This status requires review and revision of the severe weather plan, inventory of severe weather emergency supplies and acquisition of additional supplies and maintenance of equipment that will be required during a severe weather emergency.

Phase Three: In case of an approaching Hurricane, Phase Three indicates that the marina will be subjected to sustained gale-force winds (39 mph) or greater within seventy-two to forty-eight hours. For example,  following action will be implemented during Phase Three:

  • Slipholders get notified via e‐mail that the marina has implemented its severe weather plan.
  • Slipholders are required to double line, deploy chafing gear, remove dinghies, reduce their windage (by removing canvas, biminis, sails) and lash or remove all items on deck
  • Three rooms will be secured for employees, with vital records and emergency equipment and supplies for two to five days as dictated by the estimated strength of the storm and flood tides.

Phase Two: The Hurricane is approaching. Marina will experience sustained gale‐force winds within forty‐eight to twenty‐four hours and a hurricane strike will more likely than not strike the marina. For actions will be taken during this phase:

  • The marina ceases operations and all staff will prepare for the hurricane. All pumpouts must be completed by this time.
  • The Dockmaster will close the marina to all inbound transient vessels. All vessels which have been ordered to depart must have left the marina.
  • The Marina Manager and Dockmaster shall make an inspection of Cantina Marina to determine what items are required to be secured.

Phase One: The Hurricane Warning has been issued and the Hurricane will strike the marina or pass very close to the facility within twenty four hours.

  • Based upon consideration of all the circumstances, the Marina Manager will determine whether or not to issue an order to evacuate the marina.
  • Upon issuance of an evacuation order, the Assistant Dockmaster will communicate via e-mail and telephonically to all slipholders and landside tenants that the marina is under an evacuation order and that evacuation must be completed within twelve hours after which the marina will be locked down.
  • Marina Manager, Dockmaster and Director of Maintenance will perform final check of vessels for doubling of lines and, with respect to T-head vessels remaining in the marina, deployment of anchors and that all items on the dock have been removed or are properly lashed.
  • At twelve hours prior to the storms passage, the marina will lock-down. The main gate will be chained and locked and no entry other than marina personnel will be permitted.

Post-Storm Procedures: After passage of the storm, only employees shall be permitted entry to the marina until such time as an assessment of the structural integrity of all docks has been completed by the Manager, Dockmaster and Director of Maintenance. This assessment will be conducted as soon as conditions permit.

  • Sunken vessels will be immediately inspected for survivors and/or bodies and will be marked with florescent paint noting they have been inspected and the results of those inspections.
  • Environmental hazards shall be identified (sunken vessels, ruptured containment vessels) and mitigation of these hazards shall begin immediately
  • The Marina Manager shall, as soon as practicable, file with the marina’s insurer a casualty report and shall document the damage to the marina with photographs.
Key lessons learnt

The Marina Emergency Plan is a good example of preparedness measure to cope with extreme events. The effort is comparatively low compared with the benefits of such a plan. But to be most effective in case of an emergency it is essential to update such a plan on a regular basis and enforce trainings on how to execute this.

Relevant case studies and examples
Measure category