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Hurricane Season and Your Boat

Hurricanes are enormous cyclonic storm systems that cover thousands of square miles, usually developing in the tropical and subtropical latitudes during the summer and fall. To be categorized as a hurricane it must be a system that produces winds of 64 knots or more. Each hurricane is essentially an organized system made up of hundreds of individual thunderstorms. Needless to say, you do not want to be in your boat anywhere near one of these devastating systems. As a boat owner, it is imperative to how a plan for storing your boat before, during, and after the storm.

If your boat is easy to trailer, store it ashore, far from the danger of high water. Follow these tips:

  • If you must move your boat, first inspect the trailer to ensure that it is in proper operating condition. Check tires (including spare), wheel bearings, tow hitch and lights. If you can, put your boat and trailer in a garage. If they must be left out, secure them to strong trees or a “deadman” anchor. Strip off everything that could be torn loose by a strong wind.
  • Increase the weight of your trailered outboard boat by filling it with fresh water and leaving in the drain plug (inboard boats must be drained to avoid motor damage). Insert wood blocks between the trailer frame and the springs for extra support with the added weight.

If your boat must stay in the water you have three options:

  1. Berth at a dock that has sturdy pilings and offers reasonable shelter from open water and storm surge.
  2. Double up all mooring lines but provide enough slack so your boat can rise with the higher tides.
  3. Cover all lines with chafe protectors (double neoprene garden hose cut along the side) at points where the line is likely to wear and put out extra fenders and fender boards (the more the better).

Anchor your boat in a protected harbor where the bottom can allow a good anchor hold. An advantage to anchoring is that the boat can more easily respond to wind and water changes without striking docks or other boats than when moored. Heavy and extra anchors are needed for this option and enough line should be on hand to allow a scope of at least 10:1 for each anchor.

Hurricane holes are ideal locations to moor your boat during a hurricane. These are deep, narrow coves or inlets that are surrounded by a number of sturdy trees which block the wind and provide a tie-off for anchor lines. The best location for a hurricane hole is one far enough inland to avoid the most severe winds and tides, yet close enough to reach under short notice. You may want to scout out a satisfactory hurricane hole ahead of time!

It goes without saying that you should never stay with your boat during a hurricane. Make sure your boat is stripped of all loose items. Boat documents, radios, and other valuables should be removed prior to the storm. There is no way of determining how long it will be before you are able to get back to your vessel after the storm has passed. Never underestimate the danger of a hurricane.

Always before departures on your boat, obtain the latest available weather forecast for the boating area. While afloat, keep an eye out for the approach of dark, threatening clouds which may foretell a squall or thunderstorm. Check radio weather broadcasts periodically for latest forecasts and warnings. Heavy static on your AM radio may be an indication of nearby thunderstorm activity.

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“Protecting Your Boat in a Hurricane – BoatSafe.com.” Protecting Your Boat in a Hurricane –

BoatSafe.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 July 2012.