Boats in a Storm: Your Guide to Prepping Your Boat for a Hurricane

Despite being midway through hurricane season (June 1 through November 30), we are in the midst of the peak months for severe storms which means your boat needs to be prepared for severe weather or tropical storm. The updated  National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecast still calls for 14 to 20 named tropical storms this season – those storms that have winds of 39mph or greater.

Even a small storm can produce winds of 39 miles per hour, which can capsize and damage your watercraft. Take precautions to protect your boat in a storm right now.

Step one is to inform yourself: Where should you store your boat? What should you do if your boat must stay on the water? How can you protect the boat and any property onboard? Here is your quick guide.

Store Your Boat Ashore

When possible, the best place to store your boat is far away from the water. If your watercraft will not fit in a garage, look for a storage facility that is dry and has wind reinforcing. Pro tip: reserve a storage space well in advance of extreme weather, as boatyards and other storage facilities may book up quickly as storms approach.

If you must store your boat outside, find a location away from falling trees and power lines. Storing your watercraft near a line of short trees can provide some protection from the wind.

Anchor the boat to a few fixed points on the ground. You can use a fixed structure, but make sure the structure can withstand rain and water damage. Helical anchors and tie-down straps will help connect your boat to the ground or to a trailer.

Find a Hurricane Hole

A hurricane hole is a small body of water that offers protection from hurricanes. Coves tend to work well, but creeks and canals can also work. Take a look at maps in your area and see if there are holes near you.

Before you go to the hurricane hole, take a look at your boat insurance policy. Some insurers do not allow boat owners to put their boats on the water during hurricanes.

You can then shore-tie your boat in the hole. You can secure your boat to trees in the area and use an appropriate anchor to keep your boat steady in the water. Note: Do not tie your boat to trees on someone’s private property or a protected area.

Keep in mind that your boat may be very close to shore. A gust of wind can knock your boat into the rocks, or a tree or a rock can fall on your boat. Make sure you look at the anchor size and find a big enough anchor that will keep your boat in the middle of the hole.

Get to the hole quickly and put your boat on a spot upstream. If the hole is filled with boats already, move it to another location to avoid collisions with other watercraft.

Find a Mooring Field

If you live on or near an island, you may be able to find a storm mooring field. This is a location with many moorings where you can secure your boat.

Many mooring fields can hold dozens of boats at once. This means that your risk for a collision is high, so you must be careful when laying out your mooring pennants and anchors. When you learn about an approaching storm, move your boat to the field and find a location far away from other vessels.

Beaching and anchoring your boat on a sandbar is an option when you need to stop temporarily. But it is not a suitable option for a hurricane, as the storm surge can sweep your boat away. Try to find a mooring field away from beaches and always use pennants and anchors to secure your boat.

Go to a Marina

You can move your boat to a local marina, but you need to see what resources are available. Your boat can smash into a dock easily, and it can capsize in the wind. Many people bring their boats to marinas during hurricanes or leave their boats there. This means that your marina may already have dozens of boats in it, so your chance for a collision is high. Consider moving your watercraft to another location if this is the case.

If your marina seems like an appropriate optoin, you should take several steps to prevent collisions. Put your anchor out as far as you can and put a little slack in your lines so they don’t chafe. Hang up tires or fenders around your boat so you have a buffer in case the boat collides with other objects.

Note: Anchoring a sailboat is different than anchoring other kinds of boats due to the weight and size differences. Follow a guide on how to anchor a sailboat so you can do it properly.

Tie Objects in Your Boat Down

Anything that is fragile needs to come off your boat. Artworks, glass objects, and dinnerware should be removed and put into storage.

Everything else should be tied down. Seats can fly off their hinges and objects can fall on your dashboard. You can use ropes, straps, and screws to secure items to the floor.

You should put covers over your boat to prevent the parts from getting wet and rusting. To protect your dashboard, you should put a plastic cover over it.

Some people want to stay on their boats so they can protect the boats from the storm. This will only increase your chances of getting killed or injured. You should take care of yourself and stay away from the water.

Protect Your Boats in a Storm

Your boats in a storm are vulnerable. Get them out of the water and put them in a storage facility.

If you can’t afford self-storage, you should put your boat in a hurricane hole. Tie your boat to several fixed points and cast a large anchor.

Be careful with storing your boat in a marina, as your boat can collide with many things. Move valuable objects off your boat and put covers on the boat as a rain barrier.

Study boat safety so you can protect your boat during hurricanes. BoatClass provides premium boating classes. Contact us today for more information.

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