Saturday, September 23, 2017

A Storm’s Coming — Protect Your Boat!

July 1, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

storms coming title

Whether the forecasters have given it a name or not, a weather situation involving high winds, lashing rains, rising tides, and flooding has consequences. Preventing loss of life is paramount, but with enough preparation, boaters can take action to prevent property damage.

Preparation starts while the predicted storm is part of a long-range forecast. Our step-by-step plan (please personalize with your particulars) puts you into motion long before the wind starts to pick up. This way you’ll get back to focusing on safety instead of stuff once the going gets rough.


  • Photograph your boat (or take a video) from multiple angles. Detail all property and equipment.
  • Scan or photocopy receipts for all equipment and accessories as well as your boat registration or documentation. Keep a hard copy of these along with your boat insurance policy in a spot away from your boat and have a second set of documentation on the cloud or another platform accessible from a computer or mobile device other than your own.
  • Review hurricane preparedness and procedures at your marina, yacht club, or boatyard. If you’re at a mooring, ask the harbormaster.
  • If you’re in a new home port, learn the storm surge history of the area and ask where locals travel to find protected waters.
  • If you plan to move your boat to a safer harbor before a storm, plot and practice the route, noting the time and any hazards.
  • Double check that all onboard emergency equipment is working and stock up on batteries.
  • Familiarize yourself with weather warning flags and signals.


  • Boats on trailers should be sheltered, lashed, and tied securely; deflate trailer tires.
  • Follow your marina or boatyard plan for securing or hauling boats, or relocate to safer waters as planned.
  • If your boat will remain in the water, check emergency equipment. Fill fuel tank(s), clean filters, bilges, and cockpit drains, and charge batteries. Strengthen or replace anchor rigging chain and line as necessary. Secure everything inside and outside that cannot be removed and fasten hatches, ports, and doors.
  • Connect a boat at the dock to shore power. Ensure current is flowing and the trickle charger is operating. Attach extra lines to boats, with adequate length for highest water surge predictions (plus more). Place multiple bumpers (fenders) around your boat and between neighbor boats.
  • Secure a moored boat by checking and replacing fraying lines and adding additional lines.
  • Give the dockmaster or harbormaster your contact information and alarm code if applicable.
  • Write out the marina, harbormaster, and towing emergency contact numbersin case your cell phone doesn’t work.
Hurricane Mitch photo courtesy from NASA

Courtesy of NASA


  • Don’t remain on your boat. You’ll risk your life and jeopardize first responders.
  • Do not check on your boat during the eye of the storm. Wait until authorities sound the All Clear.


  • Do not drive or wade into flooded areas.
  • Wait for emergency personnel and utility workers to finish working before visiting your boat.
  • Do not approach if there are dangling or downed wires, and/or you smell gas.
  • Don’t climb across boats piled together. Don’t enter your boat if it’s part of a heap.
  • Never go near a vessel dangling between land and water.
  • If the situation is safe, inspect your boat. Document any damage and loss with photos and video. Move only what’s necessary to prevent further damage to your boat or nearby property.
  • If the boat is listing, check the bilge from bow to stern for water and inspect lockers and hatches for damage.
  • Should the boat be beached, tape the following to the hull:


Authorities, please reach me at [your phone number].

  • Contact your insurer and place a claim before removing, repairing, or replacing any damaged or missing items.
  • Remove wet coverings and cushions to prevent mold.
  • Tug cleats, lines, and anchor (as applicable) to make sure everything is holding tight.
  • Never sign a contract for hauling, salvaging, or restoration without getting insurance approval and vetting the contractors.
  • Always lend a hand to fellow boaters


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