Tony Allsop — 8 June 2016

Recently we have had a massive low-pressure system cross the east coast of Australia deepening as it moved south from Rockhampton in Queensland to Tasmania. It has caused at least five deaths, massive coastal erosion and significant damage to property, roads and work places. It would seem that some residents underestimated the potential danger and weren't fully prepared, and some ignored safety warnings.

Living in a cyclone prone area of north Queensland, we try to be prepared for these conditions, but in 2008 we had 652mm of rain overnight and massive floods in our hometown of Mackay. So what can you do to protect your caravan or boat when there’s a severe weather warning for heavy rain and gale force winds?

Our retirement resort has chain tie downs on the supports in our caravan sites, and in a severe storm warning we are contractually bound to tie our caravans or boats down with a specified chain or rope thickness. These are to be attached to strong structural components on all four corners of the van. Many caravan parks in the tropical north of the country have tie down points set into the concrete slabs to tie your van down.

However, these chains restrain only the chassis. In severe storms the frame can be blown away or smashed, so tying the whole van down is advised. This can be achieved with ropes crossed over the roof (with protective carpet or towels under the corners) and tensioned at the tie-down points.

Another method is to dig a hole for each wheel, lowering the wind resistance, and sinking angle iron posts into the ground on all four corners and the centre, and tying the chassis and the whole van down to these with ropes and chains.

In our boating days, when severe weather was forecast, we used both chain and a heavy rope 'springer' on our pile mooring, with some slack in the chain to allow for tidal movement and swell. The springer absorbed some of the more severe forces, lessening the risk of damage to the attachment points for the chains. This worked well, and in the 10 years we used this method, we had no damage.

Other boaties took their craft up mangrove creeks or inlets, and tied them fore and aft across the creek to heavy mangroves. This gave some protection from the gale force winds and afforded protection from strong seas.

The most important thing is to do all the preparation and tying down before the weather conditions become severe, then you can seek shelter yourself.

Have you had experience with severe storms, and what did you do to protect your caravan or boat?


severe weather caravans van protection boat protection


Tony Allsop