As hurricane season is here and we have category 4 Hurricane Matthew on its way to our coast, boat owners need to prepare for the safety of their boats. You want to be productive as soon as you hear the possibility of a severe storm heading your way. It can take a long time to prepare your boat for safety. The most important part of keeping your boat safe during a hurricane is the location you store it.
The safest places to store your boat during a severe storm are in hurricane-rated dry storage facilities. Most of them hold hundreds of boats all in a safe manner keeping them dry and away from the high force winds. After Hurricane Andrew, the construction standards in most counties of Florida were upgraded, meaning these facilities are capable of withstanding hurricane force winds. However, not everyone has access to this type of storage.
If you plan on keeping your boat at a marina, you want to make sure the marina has an established hurricane plan to keep your boat safe. The best marinas are ones with floating docks and tall pilings which will allow your boat to rise and fall with the storm surge without stressing or breaking lines. You want to use longer lines than normal and may have to use pilings from other dock slips to create more distance. This will prevent the lines from gaining too much slack and allowing your boat to bang against the dock or pilings. You also want to use chafe protectors to keep the lines from constant friction which can damage the boat or even break the line. The securing of your boat in a marina should look like a spider in the middle of the web. If you don’t have the ability to store your boat in either of these safe havens, you still have another safe option.
You can store your boat on dry land on its trailer with particular safety measures in place. First, you want to put it in a place where it gets the least wind force, for example, in between two buildings or houses. You will want to empty the air out of the trailer tires and place blocks under the trailer to keep it upright and sturdy. You then want to strap the boat down to something secure in the ground like helical anchors. Make sure to use ropes or lines with little to no stretch. This will keep the boat nice and secure.
In addition to the location you store your boat, you also want to take the proper measures to secure everything on the boat and remove anything possible to prevent wind resistance. This includes antennas, sails, biminis, anchors, dingies, canvas tops, etc. Not only will this reduce the windage, it will also prevent these specific items from becoming damaged. You also want to cover up all exposed electronics preferably with shrink-wrap tape. This will prevent wind and water from damaging them.
In the end, the most important part to keeping your boat safe is having a solid preparation plan in place and acting quickly once you get word of a possible severe storm coming your way. You can never be too early or too prepared.