With the official start of hurricane season (June 1st) fast approaching, there are a number of proactive ways you can help minimize the risk of damage to your boat from heavy storms. Even a Category 1 hurricane can inflict severe damage to boats that are improperly prepared or left unattended. Don’t wait until it’s too late, as many people have been impaled during a hurricane tending to their boat. Here are 10 ways to prep your boat for the dreaded hurricane season.
Securing a boat on shore is much more advantageous than leaving your boat anchored in the water during a hurricane. The best place for your boat if it must be out in the water is in some sort of hurricane hole — an inlet, a cove, or an area with some surrounding protection like strong trees or anchoring points. If you have a tow-able boat, the safest thing is to put it in a covered garage.
If your boat must be kept in the water, make sure that the bottom of your boat will hold strong to a heavy anchor, reducing movement during the storm. Using more than one anchor is ideal to resist against strong wind and bigger waves.
To lower the risk of electrical damage, disconnect all electricity, water, and other dock connections including fuel lines. Fully charge the battery on your vessel, so bilge pumps may be used when you need it (to dispel water or combat fire).
Any area left exposed, especially the deck area, should have all loose items removed; this includes canvas, plexi-glass, or plastic coverings, antennas, and all outriggers. Any remaining loose items on board should be safely stowed away.
Water has a knack for finding its way into even the smallest openings. This is only increased during a severe hurricane, so be sure to protect your engine by covering the engine room vents. You can even use duct tape to temporarily add more coverage and seal any small openings. Also plug exhaust pipes at the stern or screw a piece of plywood over the vent and tape over the edges for added protection.
To make your boat even more watertight, seal any crevices in the exterior. This includes windows, hatches, and doorways. Duct tape is a good solution to make all seams withstand against wind and water.
Boats with cabins should have all loose items removed. If you have a refrigerator, remove its contents, as the strong motion of the boat may cause the door to swing open. The same thing goes for drawers and cabinets. Any cloth-like items like drapes, blankets, and cushions should also be removed as they may become soaked from leaks.
The best position for your boat to face during a storm is directly into the wind. When securing your boat, be sure to double the mooring lines to account for unpredictable winds. Also be sure to allow enough line as possible to account for high rising tides.
Important electronic devices like instrument gauges should be covered. Take any portable electronics and store them in a safe place, far off the ground.
If you’re lucky enough to be able to secure your boat on land, make sure you secure the trailer by deflating the tires (about halfway) and putting blocks in front and behind the tires. It also helps to place something heavy between the frame of the trailer and the turning axle to resist movement and strong winds. Then, strap your boat down to the trailer and secure the trailer to a sturdy object.