The key to protecting your boat from hurricanes or any severe, threatening weather is planning, preparation, and timely action. The following precautions and checklists are meant as guidelines only.
Each boat owner needs a plan unique to the type of boat, local boating environment, the severe weather conditions likely to occur in that region, and the characteristics of safe havens and/or plans for protection. Listen to your local Emergency Management office for specific evacuations related to boats.
- Do not stay aboard.
- Develop detailed plan to secure your vessel in the marina. Remove your vessel, if possible. Practice your plan to ensure that it works.
- Check your lease or storage rental agreement with the marina or storage area. Know your responsibilities and liabilities.
- Consolidate your records, including insurance policies. Have a recent photo of your vessel, the Hull Identification Number (HIN#), phone number for harbor master, Coast Guard, etc.
- Items of value should be marked for easy identification if lost in the storm. Label paddle boards, kayaks, life jackets, etc. with phone numbers.
- Remove all moveable equipment: canvas, sails, dinghies, radios, biminis, roller furling sails.
- Lash down everything you cannot remove: tillers, wheels, booms.
- Make sure electrical system is turned off unless you plan to leave the boat in the water. Remove battery and portable fuel.
Find boating safety information on the U.S. Coast Guard's site - www.uscgboating.org.
- Ensure your tow vehicle is capable of moving the boat. Check trailer, tires bearings and axle are in good condition.
- Once at a 'safe place', lash your boat & trailer and place blocks between the frame members and axle inside each wheel.
- Secure your boat with heavy nylon lines to fixed objects. If possible, find a location that will allow you to secure it from all four sides. It can be tied to screw anchors. Do not secure your boat to a tree.
- Never leave a boat on davits or on a hydro-lift.
- Secure boat in marina berth.
- Moor boat in safe area.
- Haul the boat.
- Leave area well in advance.
Boats Remaining in Marina Berth
- Double all lines. Rig crossing spring lines fore and aft. Attach lines high on pilings to allow for tidal rise or surge. Make sure lines will not slip off pilings. Inspect pilings and choose those that seem strongest, tallest and are properly installed. The longer the dock lines, the better a boat will be at coping with high tides. It is also essential to double up on all lines and use chafe protectors at any potential chafe points.
- Install fenders to protect the boat from rubbing against the pier, pilings and other boats. Cover all lines at rough points to prevent chafing.
- Assess the attachment of primary cleats, winches and chocks. These should have substantial backing plates and adequate stainless steel bolt sizes.
- Batteries should be fully charged and checked to ensure their capability to run automatic bilge pumps for the duration of the storm. Consider backup batteries. Cut off all devices consuming electricity except bilge pumps.