How To Protect Your Boat During A Hurricane - Soundings Online

How To Protect Your Boat During A Hurricane

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A boater's worst nightmare.

A boater's worst nightmare.

If the images of the damage Hurricane Harvey caused in coastal Texas weren’t enough to motivate you to craft a hurricane readiness plan for your boat, well, Hurricane Irma may change that. Here are some tips to get you started.

Land Storage

Boats stored on land tend to fare better than boats kept in the water. If you’re able to arrange haul-out and storage, choose a location on high ground, since low-lying areas are prone to flooding during a hurricane.

Once your boat is up on land, have the yard put additional jack stands along areas of the hull that are reinforced by bulkheads. Also, consider asking if they can place pieces of plywood under the stands. This helps stop them from sinking into the ground. Remember that jack stands should always be chained together to prevent them from spreading apart.

Tying your boat to its trailer helps prevent it from floating away in the flood waters a hurricane can bring.

Tying your boat to its trailer helps prevent it from floating away in the flood waters a hurricane can bring.

If you are leaving your boat on a trailer, place blocks beneath the frame on either side of the wheels, and then deflate the tires. Tie the boat to the trailer and secure the boat to ground the best you can. Some folks use an anchor or two sunk into the ground to prevent the boat and trailer from floating free.

Anchoring Or Mooring Out

If you decide to anchor your boat out, find a well-protected area with the least amount of fetch. Use multiple anchors and pay out lots of scope. Ensure your anchor rodes are protected from chafe wherever they contact the boat. (Old rags or towels provide excellent chafe protection.) 

If you tie up to a permanent mooring, the same warning about chafe protection applies. You might also consider tying off additional painters to the mooring ball, in case one or more of them fails.

Canals are great hurricane holes because you can run lines from both sides of the boat to trees and other strong, fixed objects. Boaters have also had success tying their boats up in mangrove swamps during hurricanes; they offer excellent protection.

Tying Off To A Dock

If you tie your boat off to a fixed dock/pier/bulkhead, secure your boat with multiple bow, stern and spring lines — use as many lines as you have or can procure, stretching them in many different directions. Also, secure fenders wherever contact with fixed structures could occur. You can never have too many lines or too many fenders. Ensure each line has adequate chafe protection on the boat and at the dock cleats.

Floating docks rise and fall with the surge and cause less stress to dock lines, but multiple dock lines, ample fendering and lots of chafe protection should still be employed.

Hurricane Harvey hit Texas with 130-mph winds.

Hurricane Harvey hit Texas with 130-mph winds.

Preparations On Board

Whether on land, at anchor or tied up to a dock, pier or bulkhead, you should strip anything from your boat that you can remove to reduce windage. Remove Biminis, awnings, sail covers, boat covers, mainsails and roller-furling jibs. You should also remove anything above- or below-decks — such as electronics, dinghies, portable outboard engines, etc. — that you do not want to get lost or damaged. Fully charge the batteries, in case the bilge pump has to work overtime.

Other Resources

This is a basic list of prep tips to get you started. BoatUS also has an excellent hurricane preparedness page you can access by clicking here. West Marine has a comprehensive list of hurricane preparedness steps here.