Typhoon Readiness: Seasonal Precautions

Typhoon season in Hong Kong is from May to October, with most typhoons arriving between mid-July and late September.

The Hong Kong Observatory (HKO) provides advance warning and tracking of typhoons over a wide-ranging area. It tracks storms that threaten to approach Hong Kong and those whose passage brings less wind but heavy bands of rain.

As per the ABC Bye-laws, members within the Club premises will be kept informed of tropical storm signals either by the posting of notices or by announcement. 

It is the owner’s responsibility to secure a boat’s mooring and look after its overall safety. ABC reminds all boat owners that ABC staff are not supposed to board boats to clear decks, and despite ABC helping to check moorings components for safety, owners must secure their own mooring lines. 

You must therefore come to check your boat before the HKO hoists a typhoon signal 3, as the club will cease sampan service then.  Once signal 3 is hoisted, ABC staff will be very busy completing Club safety procedures to secure the entire Club, moorings and pontoons, safety steps that begin when a typhoon 1 signal is hoisted.  

Steps to take for boats’ safety and security

If a typhoon is approaching, boat owners should prepare to secure their mooring early – it is much harder to work in strong winds and heavy rain.
In advance of typhoons, to protect boats and ensure safety, boating members should consider taking the following actions for boats on moorings (advice supplied by professional mariners):

• Check and ensure your licence and insurance are both up-to-date.  An expired licence will automatically invalidate your insurance. Your policy should name your mooring location  

• Check that your bilge pump and electrical system are in good working condition  

• Clear cockpit drains

• Securely close all hatches and lockers 

• Lash the helm amidships

• Ensure your decks are free from any potential flying objects including life rafts, emergency radio beacons, horseshoe rings, Dan buoys, boat covers and biminis.  Canvas left on deck is unlikely to be covered by insurance for damage 

• Ensure your sails are either removed and stowed below decks or secured properly on the mast

• If your boat is anchored with a bow roller, ensure that the mooring lines do not chafe against the anchor as they may be cut during heavy wind.  If need be, remove the anchor

• To connect to the buoy, do not use chain or low-stretch line, as shock loads can be very high. Boats whose owners use chain (wrongly believing it is stronger) sometimes have their deck cleats ripped out. Consider using purpose-made shock-absorbing lines or simply add on shock absorbers to the mooring lines  

• Check mooring lines for damage from chafing and the sun and replace if you feel they are weakened. Remember that over time nylon lines lose their strength and abrasion resistance. Fit chafe protection where lines cross over decks or through chocks

• Fitting a second set of mooring lines as a back up is a good precaution as long as it is fitted with a bit of slack compared to the working lines. Never secure a mooring line to the mast or to any standard rigging, but consider using the primary winches

• Check the shackle from the mooring lines to the swivel. Check that the swivel is rotating freely and is in good condition. Replace the swivel if in doubt  

• Check your loads for moorings, as winds can seriously affect loads

Some boats may need ABC staff to help secure them to one another to avoid them bashing against one another during high winds and seas. The trustworthy ABC team has an excellent record for safety under typhoon conditions, having safeguarded boats for 40 years. 

Club operations during typhoons

When Typhoon Signal Number 8 is hoisted, Club operations will cease and all members, guests, and staff, with the exception of caretaker staff, will be required to vacate the Club premises. 

In the event of members or guests being unable to leave the Club premises owing to lack of transport or other circumstances, the public rooms will remain open for use but very limited food, drink or service of any kind will be available.