As a tropical storm or hurricane approaches, the safety of your family and home are topmost concerns. If you own a boat, preparing your boat often comes in a distant third. Boat owners can do a lot now while the sun is shining. Then when the forecast cone heads our way, the storm boat prep will go quicker and smoother.
As with all other hurricane prep, a detailed plan is essential. Gather all your boat records including insurance policies, a boat photo, hull ID number and registration information together & make copies. Mark all equipment with a phone number. If your boat is in a marina or storage area, check your lease agreement so you are aware of your responsibilities and liabilities. Read your insurance policy.
As a storm approaches, remove everything that can be moved: canvas, cushions, radios, biminis, etc. Lash down anything that cannot be removed. If the boat will be out of the water, turn the electrical system off.
While experts say the best way to protect your boat in a storm is to trailer it out of the storm area, most boat owner’s reality is that they lack the time and resources to do that. Local dry land storage is another option. Dry stack storage, especially if built after Hurricane Andrew, is also considered a good storm storage option.
For many boat owners, securing their boat in place in a marina or on their lift is the most realistic option. If on a lift, preventing water from accumulating in the hull and possibly overloading the lift is a priority. If your boat is equipped with a drain plug on the lowest point of the boat, remove that to allow for drainage. Don’t rely on bilge pumps.
Raise your lift to about 2 feet of its maximum lifting height. Check with your lift manufacturer or contractor to determine max height. (If that height is less than the expected storm surge, experts urge using an alternate storm plan.) Secure the boat and brace the lift with mooring lines and ratchet straps. Raise the lift slightly to tighten the lines, being careful not to overload the lift with the increased tension.
In a marina berth, experts advise doubling all lines and rigging crossing spring lines fore & aft. Use chafe protectors. Add fenders and check cleats. Make sure batteries are fully charged and able to power bilge pumps for the length of the storm.
These are only general guidelines. Boat owners should seek specific storm prep information from their marina, storage facility, boat manufacturer or insurance company.
Learn more about hurricane preparation with the Lee Hazards Guide at bit.ly/LeeHazardsGuide
By Missy Layfield