The day after a storm fizzles out and the sun returns, the captains who followed solid advice about how to secure their boat for a hurricane are easy to spot. They’re not the ones picking flotsam and jetsam from nearby waters or wondering whether their watercraft is destined for the scrap pile. Instead, they’re planning the next voyage or fishing trip. Be like those captains and prepare for even the most tumultuous hurricane season. Here’s how.
Can I Protect My Boat During A Hurricane?
You can’t protect your boat during a hurricane. You need to protect your boat before the hurricane. Hurricane preparation for your boat begins when the hurricane is just a tiny dot on the weather radar.
Don’t wait until the storm is nearly landbound. Effective weatherproofing demands advanced preparation. The same way you plan with your family what to do when a storm hits your home, you should prepare and secure your boat in advance. If you understand what to do now as soon as a hurricane starts approaching, the action will be quick and seamless. It’s always better to be safe than sorry, especially regarding your boat.
While you’re learning about hurricane-proofing, these safety tips for recreational boaters are also helpful to know.
Where Is The Best Place For My Boat To Be During A Hurricane?
On top of the torrential wind and rain, a hurricane’s storm surge alone can do major damage to life and property – surges of up to 10 feet are common during hurricanes. That’s why the best place for your boat to be during a hurricane is indoors, elevated, and as far away from the surge as possible. If you can’t bring it indoors to a storage facility, you should still try to haul it to a secure location as far away from the coastline – and the hurricane’s path – as possible.
If You Can Trailer Your Boat
Attach the boat to the trailer and start driving. Ideally, don’t stop until you’re out of the hurricane’s cone of uncertainty. We recommend heading to the most high and dry spot possible. If a road trip to a hurricane-averse location isn’t an option, trailer the boat to the most secure spot possible.
When hurricane season begins on June 1st, remind yourself to check the trailer. Do the tires have air? Is it in good condition? The trailer won’t be of any use if it malfunctions when you need it.
If Your Boat Is On A Lift
Take it off. When it comes to how to secure your boat for a hurricane, a lift isn’t the most advantageous spot – and that’s an understatement. The boat could blow off the lift or a storm surge could overtake it. A better choice is to transfer the boat to a trailer and move it away from the water.
If there’s absolutely no way to move the boat, it’s time to break out the heavy-duty ratchet straps and tie the boat to the lift. Additional straps that anchor the craft to dock cleats can be helpful as well. Finally, remove that drain plug and plug the engine exhaust ports.
5 Ways To Secure Your Boat Before A Hurricane
- Pull the boat off the lift and place it on a trailer. Once on the trailer, a location higher than the expected storm surge is ideal. Keep the trailer away from trees – otherwise branches could fall and damage the craft.
- Trailer the boat to an indoor dry storage facility, where it will be elevated above the potential storm surge.
- Firmly secure the boat to its moorings. Even if you have to leave the craft on a lift as a hurricane approaches, you can take measures to keep it as safe as possible.
- If the boat is going to be anchored in a harbor, understand that facility’s protocol for protecting your vessel.
- Check your marine coverage. Understand what will happen if you have a windstorm claim so you can ensure that you comply with any requirements. For example, some windstorm coverage requires the owner to take certain measures to protect the boat. The quickest way to ensure you’re covered is to review your insurance policy or call your trusted marine insurance advisor and ask what would happen if your boat is damaged by a hurricane.
Reduce The Surface Area Of Your Boat
That boat cover does a great job protecting the vessel during normal weather patterns. But it needs to be removed before a hurricane hits, however. This seems like the opposite of what a concerned property owner would do, but reducing the surface area of the boat is important when it comes to high winds.
With that in mind, remove everything on board. That means any canvas coverings, any gear: everything. No one wants to watch from inside the house as your expensive fishing tackle gets blown down the canal. Don’t underestimate a hurricane’s potential to sweep everything aboard to who-knows-where.
Close All The Hull Valves, Doors, And Windows
Don’t let rain and wind get anyplace they don’t have to be! Hull valves are especially important to close. Contrary to the belief that filling the boat with water will make it heavier and thus less likely to float away, it will instead damage the craft even more than torrential rainfall.
Add Chafing Gear
Protect tow and mooring lines from chafing. Add chafing gear to your must-have list for hurricane preparation. This gear acts as a barrier to expensive lines and offers another layer of protection.
Consider Your Electronics
Better yet, remove them from the boat. If your electronics are not removable, consult user manuals and learn how to safely shield them from wind and rain. Electronics like viewfinders are necessary tools for many captains. Understand how to best shield them from the elements.
Put Out All Your Fenders
There’s no asterisk there – even if your boat is moored, put those fenders out. The name of the game when it comes to hurricane preparedness is ultimate protection – and that’s what we’re going for with fenders that shield the hull.
Steps To Take If Your Boat Gets Damaged From A Hurricane
If you still experience damage to your boat after a hurricane, the first thing you need to do is document it. Take photos of the entire boat, especially where there’s the most damage. Take note of any lost or damaged personal items or equipment as well. This is important because it adds support to your claim, and it will help you secure payment from your insurance carrier.
It’s crucial to contact your boat insurance company or agent to report a claim and explain the damages or losses that occurred. Let your insurance company know as soon as possible about a claim to ensure they can get in front of it and get it handled. Your insurance adjuster will also guide you on the next steps to take.
Here are some tips that can help you save further damage to your boat:
- Remove personal items and equipment. This will prevent your valuable items from being looted and therefore lessen the chance of more loss from the storm.
- Clean the debris out of your boat. Remove any sand, water, dirt, or debris from your boat as soon as possible to prevent mold, mildew, water damage, and other further damage.
- “Pickle” your machinery and engine. Pickling (i.e. flushing with freshwater then replacing it with diesel fuel or kerosene) will significantly improve the chances of saving engines or machinery that were submerged by water.
Make Marine Insurance Part Of Your Hurricane Preparedness Strategy
Hurricanes can upend people’s lives. Massive storms such as Hurricane Ian have a huge effect on the boating industry. Make marine insurance part of your hurricane preparedness strategy so you can ride out any storm knowing that you and your boat are covered. From fishing boat insurance to yacht coverage, W3 offers full-scale marine protection.
While you’re at it, check your homeowners insurance and read up on claims information through FEMA. The more you understand your risks, the better you can plan to mitigate them. From your boat to your abode, protection and peace of mind are possible.
Contact a trusted W3 marine insurance advisor today for advice before and after hurricane havoc.