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palm trees blowing in hurricane force winds

Securing Your Boat

Long before a hurricane is approaching, boat owners should already have a plan to minimize the impacts of a hurricane on their vessels. If you know that a hurricane or storm surge are approaching, get off the open water and as far away from the storm as possible. Never stay with your boat. The following guidelines do not ensure a boat will escape damage, but a well-planned strategy will help reduce the chances of disaster. Determine if you will trailer or haul your boat, secure it in a marina or move it to a previously identified hurricane mooring. Keep in mind the hazards hurricanes present: wind, tidal surge and wind-driven waves. Check your insurance policies to know your responsibilities, as well as those of your marina or storage area. Gather insurance policies, registrations, inventories and other records. You may need them when you return to check on your boat.

The following are guidelines when removing your boat from the water:

Securing your boat on a trailer

Illustration: Islander, published: July 30, 1999

  • If you can, put your boat and trailer in a garage.
  • Avoid exposure to wind and park away from trees.
  • Lash the boat to the trailer and secure the boat to a fixed object, preferably from four directions.
  • Remove half the air from the tires. Block the tires to prevent rolling.
  • Seal door openings and tape windows that may break.
  • Remove sails, rigging and other loose objects.
  • Increase the weight of your trailered outboard by filling it with about six inches of fresh water and leaving in the drain plug.
  • If you plan to haul your boat, be sure the marina can store and secure it quickly. Check into prearranged contracts for hauling and have an alternate plan in case the marina cannot meet the sudden demand that would be generated by an approaching hurricane.

If you are leaving your boat at the dock, do the following:

  • Double all lines and protect them from chaffing.
  • Make sure boats will not strike a roof as water level rises.
  • Make sure all cleats and winches are well secured to the boat.
  • Adjust lines to accommodate unusually high or low water.
  • Install fenders to protect boats from rubbing against piers, pilings and other boats.
  • Cut off all electrical devices, except bilge pumps, for the duration of the storm.
  • Remove all loose items (canvas, sails, dinghies, radios and cushions) and lash down everything you cannot remove.
  • Seal doors, openings and tape windows that may break.
  • Do not stay aboard!

If you are anchoring your boat in open water, follow these tips:

  • Select a location that offers the best protection from wind and storm surge.
  • Before leaving the dock remove sails, riggings and other loose items.
  • Lash down those items that cannot be removed.
  • Seal all doors and openings and tape windows that may break.
  • Avoid channels and tidal currents.
  • Leave early for your site because of danger of high winds and strong currents.
  • Bridges may be locked down to accommodate land traffic.
  • Do not tie up to other boats.
  • Practice runs should be made to determine accessibility, depth of water,
  • location of bridges and to locate obstructions and objects on which to secure lines.
  • Make sure all cleats and winches are well secured to the boat. Cut off all electrical devices, except bilge pumps, for the duration of the storm.
  • Again, do not stay on board!

After the storm, you should do the following:

  • Be sure it is safe to travel before you return to your boat.
  • Remove any water from the boat.
  • Check for damage to your boat and the marina before you leave your mooring.
  • Beware of dangling wires, fuel leaks, weakened docks and bridges and objects floating in the water.
  • Make a thorough check of seaworthiness and damage to your boat and of property that may have been damaged by your boat.


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This page was last updated as of  Wednesday, November 18, 2009
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