Preparing for cyclones in future

AFTER witnessing the devastation caused to boats on swing moorings by the February 2008 storm and then again this year by Tropical Cyclone Ului, co-director of Whitsunday Moorings and Marine Construction (WMMC) Darren Foster doesn't want to relive this.

“There is nothing worse than waking up in the morning and finding boats washed up on the beach,” he said.

“It was heartbreaking to see all the boats washed up on the beach in 2008,” he said.

During these events Mr Foster and business partner Ken Spruce have been studying how and why some moorings failed and others survived.

“The result is a mooring system that we think is equal to the worst a storm can throw at it,” he said.

According to Mr Foster, for many years there has been no Australian standard or guidelines to ensure the safety of vessels on swing moorings.

But as a result of hours of research, speaking to State and Federal maritime safety officers as well as international mooring installers and manufactures, WWMC now uses the Dampier Mooring Code as a minimum standard.

They are looking to exceed that standard with their new rectangle blocks and the helix/seaflex/block moorings.

The helix/seaflex/block moorings are a combination of two of the leading international mooring components.

He has even been using his powers of persuasion with some of the major insurance agencies who like boat owners have felt the brunt of previous storms in the Whitsundays.

“The insurance agencies are very wary of ensuring vessels on swing moorings,” he said

Nautilus Marine National Underwriting Manager Damian Pugh said Nautilus have made a business decision to not offer cover for boats that are permanently moored on swing moorings above the 26 parallel.

“Our policy will still respond to those unlucky individuals who happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time ‘when the cyclone hits' and that's what insurance is all about,” he said.

“We still expect to sustain a few losses during a cyclone and we will manage the salvage and repairs with the same professionalism and speed as previously.

“What we want to avoid in future cyclones is the high level of losses that occur to permanently moored yachts and cruisers on swing moorings.

“Unfortunately, most of the boats on the swing mooring can not withstand the tremendous forces exerted on them during a cyclone.”

Mr Foster would be inclined to agree with Mr Pugh's comments; however he is confident that a stronger and revolutionised mooring system would give boat owners on swing moorings more resistance in the event of a storm.

Mr Pugh met with Mr Foster last month and has taken his comments on board.


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