Hurricane Preparation for Your Boat

Location: Choosing the most storm-worthy location for your boat is probably the number one consideration you need to make. A boat in the water should only be secured in a well-protected marina. A seawall or sandy spit that normally protects a harbor may not offer any protection in a hurricane. Water can surge over the seawall and flood the harbor or basin. A fixed dock will require you to keep a frequent eye on it to loosen and tighten the lines and the water surge changes. If your location is on dry land you will need to be sure to have it secured well. Breaking waves or water surges can rise over the banks and lift the boats off of their jack stands. Many times these boats are left in the streets once the water recedes. There may not be a perfect location, depending on your physical location, but you must think through your options ahead of time and have a plan if needed.

Flying Hazards: Remove canvas, sails and loose items that could be lifted by the wind and become hazardous flying objects. This includes any loose fitting item that might be ripped off by the high winds.

Docking: Double up dock and fender lines and add chafe guards to keep your lines from fraying. Remember that your fenders may be lifted by the wind and become useless, you’ll need to cross tie your boat to hold it away from the dock. Tie your dock lines so they can be adjusted from the dock, and consider using snubbers. If you are on a fixed dock, make sure your lines are long enough to allow for the rising strap

Electrical Power: Remember that power may go out or be disconnected. Shut down everything you can to conserve battery power for your bilge pumps. Make sure your batteries are fully charged and always have extra batteries charged and close by.

Photos: Take photos of your boat after preparations are made, in case you need them for an insurance claim.

Stay Informed: Keep a good check on weather updates and be sure you have a battery operated radio with extra batteries available. Ensure that you have a plan in place to receive safety warnings and alerts.

Insurance Documents: If you have filed a hurricane plan with your insurance company, locate it and follow it. Some insurance companies will pay for half of the expense of hauling your boat as storm prep, but storing your boat on the hard isn’t a guarantee of safety. Winds can cause it to rock in the jacks, throwing it off balance and causing it to fall. Tie down straps or chains can mitigate this somewhat. If your boat yard is not paved, make sure the jack stands are on plywood or another solid surface.

After The Storm: Before you start your boat, if your boat is gasoline powered check your blower vent to make sure it isn’t filled with water and trapping gas fumes. You’ll also need to check the security of your shore power connection. If the engine and other machinery was submerged or had gotten wet, it should be flushed with fresh water and then filling with fuel.