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    There is no single best way to prepare your boat for a hurricane. Advice varies greatly, depending on the size of your vessel, availability of dock space, marina rules and state law. That makes planning now for a hurricane -- before it threatens -- all the more essential.

Two rules are universal:

  1. Whatever preparations you are going to make, do them early. Do as much as you can now. Make a trial run.
  2. Do not attempt, under any circumstances, to ride out a storm in a boat. No boat is worth your life. Hurricane winds, whether inland or near the beach, can lift a boat out of the water or sink it -- even if it is secured in a marina.

General tips

  1. Read your insurance policy carefully to determine whether your boat is sufficiently protected from hurricane damage.
  2. Designate someone to take care of your boat if you cannot.
  3. Make and keep a list of boat registration numbers, and the associated equipment's make, model & serial numbers.
  4. Obtain in advance the rope and other materials needed to secure your boat.
  5. Make sure fire extinguishers and lifesaving equipment are in good shape.
  6. Remember that when a storm threatens, you will want to remove or secure all deck gear, radio antennas, outriggers, Bimini tops, side canvases, side curtains, rafts, sails, booms, dinghies, electronics and other valuables, and all other objects that could blow away or cause damage.
  7. Tape any glass that could shatter with duct tape in an X pattern.

Options to consider:

Dry docking/marinas

  1. Shop around and arrange for dry-dock space early.
  2. If you plan to keep your boat at a marina, know the marina's rules.

Move inland, by water:

  1. Arrange now for dock space. You must have the permission of the property owner in advance.
  2. Make a trial run to ensure that your boat will fit under any fixed bridges. Take into account the higher water levels that can precede a storm. Keep in mind that cars will take priority, so drawbridges may be locked down for long periods of time.

Move inland, by trailer

  1. Make a trial run. Know how long it will take to get from the water to your destination.

Leaving the area

  1. Consider the time required to go to the new destination and whether your route will cross the storm's path.
  2. Be prepared to deal with the difficulties of driving with a trailer in a stiff wind, particularly on causeways.

Garages, tying down

  1. If your boat is small enough, consider keeping it in your garage.
  2. If you must, tie down your boat and trailer outside.

If your boat remains docked

  1. Use extra and longer mooring lines. Storm surges can raise the water level several feet, so make sure the lines are approximately 10 feet longer than normal to compensate.
  2. Chafe lines - similar to garden hoses slipped over mooring lines - should be used to reinforce the lines where they might scrape against the dock or another boat.
  3. Use extra bumpers.
  4. Owners of larger boats could anchor their boats away from land in a harbor or a protected creek. You'll need strong ropes and extra anchors.

If your boat remains on land

  1. Partially fill your boat with water. Plug the drainage system and fill your boat with as much water as is practical. Don't fill the whole boat. But the more water you put in, the harder it will be for the wind to move it.
  2. Park the boat in an open area, away from trees.

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Last Revised: October 14, 2006 02:12 PM.

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