Properly preparing a boat for a hurricane saves your vessel from thousands of dollars in damages or at least minimize harm. The Atlantic and Gulf Coasts of the United States are quite hurricane-prone in the second half of the year. As a boater, you want to be safe rather than sorry.
To protect your prized possession, here are some steps to follow
Start early to ensure your boat’s survival.
Plan before the hurricane season begins.
You don’t want to start scrambling at the last minute.
You have to decide whether you’re storing your boat on water or land.
Prepare a list of all the supplies or materials needed to prepare your boat for a hurricane.
Then collect every important documentation relating to your boat—these include your boat’s insurance information, registration, a title deed, lease agreement with storage facility or marina, equipment inventory, and several snapshots of your ship’s pre-hurricane state from many angles.
Storing your boat in a marina?
Know whether the facility administrator has a hurricane plan.
If the facility performs hurricane drills at the beginning of the season, make sure you participate in them.
However, note that the marina’s storm plan shouldn’t substitute yours.
Boat Insurance Coverage
It’s important to get your boat insurance in place before the hurricane season.
Most insurance companies would stop the processing of applications once a hurricane has been declared.
Proactiveness wins here.
Start looking at every available boat insurance plan and start keeping abreast of the inner workings of the industry. Some policies may cover some costs of moving or hauling your vessel from the marina before a hurricane.
Asides understanding your insurance policy, you should understand your marina contract.
Some marinas demand you remove your boat prior to a hurricane as a protective measure.
Gathering vast photographic or video evidence of your boat before and after the hurricane is important.
Maintain an inventory of items and belongings you leave on the boat and take with you.
Another sad thing about natural disasters is the risk of theft or looting. A solid coverage safeguards you from eventualities.
Staying On Land
If you choose to store your boats on land prior to a storm—which happens to be the safer option than vessels kept in water—make prior plans with your marina.
When storing your boat on land, proper support is vital.
Use jack stands located along the hull and keel stands to keep your boat balanced.
Keep the jack stands chained together to prevent them from spreading apart.
Storing your boat on soft ground and worried about sinking?
Brace your jack stands with plywood pads.
To avoid storm surge, store your boat on high ground—in a place well protected from strong gusts.
A garage is recommended if your boat fits.
If you choose to leave your boat out in the open, weigh down your boat by filling up the bilge compartment with water and strongly tether the boat to the ground.
On land, remove all batteries to avoid a fire hazard.
Securing your boat in the water during a hurricane?
It’s essential you moor sensibly to reduce the risk of damages.
First, find an area where waves are less likely to build up (little fetch) and where your boat is protected from several wind angles.
Canals and hurricane holes offer good protection.
For hurricane holes, start scouting ahead of time for them.
A good hurricane hole is surrounded by wind-blocking hills and tiny wind funnel between those hills.
Secure your boat with helix anchors and make safety your watchword.
Use Long Lines and Sturdy Pilings
If you are mooring, leverage double or triple long lines to a fixed dock or piling, so your vessel can float up with rising water levels and move with the storm surge.
Short lines break and can even rip out the pilling.
To prevent breakage mid-storm, remove worn dock lines and use chafe protectors where the lines rub up against the boat or the dock.
Also, remember to position the vessel so that the bow is facing the strongest wind.
When securing to a floating dock, ensure your dock piling is higher than the expected storm surge and your cleats and other attachment points are secured.
A short piling is dangerous. Sturdy wooden pilings are recommended for your flexibility.
Hurricanes will give your anchor and anchor rode a lot of work if you choose to moor.
Helix-type anchors, capable of screwing into the seabed, are better than dead weight or mushroom anchors for hurricanes.
Inspecting swivels and chains connected to mooring buoy is important.
Ensure your mooring pennant is chafe-protected and doubled-up, too.
Of course, you can set two or three anchors.
Two anchors can be set in a linear formation while three anchors are spaced at 120 degrees.
Clear The Boat
Remove windage (canvas and sails) as well as biminis and dodgers.
Anything that can be ripped out by the hurricane or damaged by debris.
Powerboat cockpit covers, mainsails, mainsail covers, removable fuel tanks, dinghies, deck chairs, antennas, masts, and furling Genoas.
Hauling your boat out of the water to a safe location, take out electronics onboard and pull the drain plug.
When mooring generally, empty the bilge compartment leave charged batteries (and back-up batteries) to pump the automatic bilge throughout the storm. Shut down other electrical devices.
Never stay on board if you can help it during a hurricane.
Don’t risk your life. If you’re trapped in a hurricane, put on a life vest and stay below deck to protect yourself from the elements.
Boating between June and November?
Know the location of the nearest marina or hurricane hole.
The weather forecast should be your friend.
Start monitoring weather broadcasts regularly.
NOAA Weather Radio is a great source for information across the United States and islands in the Pacific and Caribbean.
Note that weather forecasts aren’t always 100 percent correct. Use common sense and face reality.
If you ever need a hand or have a question, feel free to leave them below and I will be more than happy to help you out.
All the best,