The best time to think about your hurricane plan is well before a storm is bearing down on your hometown. Having a plan of action, especially anywhere south of the Mason/Dixon line is just good common sense. The crucial factor here is time as everyone else will also be trying to find a safe spot for their vessel.
Think about the services that will be needed to properly protect your boat. It is imperative that you act early and act fast. In this post, we’ll discuss the best practices of hurricane preparation.
If you can, simply don’t be there
The number one lesson learned is this: don’t be there. NOAA’s Hurricane Center updates their cone of probability for hurricanes often. If you find yourself in this cone, the best thing to do – if you can – is leave the area. If you have a trailerable boat, simply bring it with you and find a cheap storage center inland. For those with no trailers or larger vessels, read on.
If you cannot leave, then arrange to move your boat to high ground
Statistics show that boats stored on the hard ride out the storm much better than those that are tossed and turned around in the water. If you cannot avoid the inbound hurricane, then arranging a way to block your vessel in advance is the safest route.
There are a couple ways to do this that have been working well for others:
Keeping it on the trailer
If you plan to keep the boat in your yard or at a storage facility on a trailer, there are a few steps that will help protect your vessel.
Be sure to remove any batteries, let a good portion of air out of the tires, tie the boat to the trailer, and block the wheels. Filling the bilges as high as possible will add weight and keep your boat grounded in case of high storm surge.
Jack stands and tie downs
One way to get your boat high and dry is to get it on blocks and stands on higher ground where the surge will not affect it.
Jack stands do move around during storms, so use blocks where you can. Use non-stretch rope for tie downs and affix them to appropriate anchor points such as those driven into concrete.Many marinas offer this service but can be slammed last minute, so be sure to pre-arrange your spot if possible.
Ditches and tires
Yet another method that seems to be picking up momentum involves digging a ditch (by tractor of course) and lining it with old tires. The boats are lowered into the ditch via slings then tied down. This process also lowers the profile of the boats and has met with great success in the islands.
If you must stay in the water, choose a marina wisely
Look for a marina with the following characteristics:
- High sea walls
- Floating docks that are in good shape
- Tall pilings
If pilings are your only choice, choose pilings that are tall – think storm surge. Your boat has to not only ride out the wind, but the elevated sea states as well.
Strip your boat down
Now most people already know this, so we will only touch on it: if moving your boat out of an inbound hurricane’s path isn’t an option, strip the boat.
Take down everything that will increase windage. This includes booms, canvas, biminis, lines, lifelines – everything you can. The less windage the better.
The above guidance has been gleaned from statistical data, insurance claims, and insight from insurance investigation teams. By learning what worked (or didn’t) for others in the same situation, you can set yourself and your boat up for the best possible outcome.
The greatest point to remember here is act soon and act fast. Waiting until everyone is doing the same thing or worse, waiting until it has already become windy, may prove to be too late.
Have any of your own hurricane prep tips? Let us know!