Protect Your Boat During Hurricane Season

Your safety and the safety of your family and others is most important, so develop a hurricane preparedness plan before a hurricane strikes. While the following tips are intended to help you protect your boat, your first consideration should always be to protect yourself and others.

Long before a hurricane approaches, experts recommend the following:

  • Make sure you have everything you need to secure your boat, including extra lines, chafe protection, fenders, anchors, port plugs, duct tape and extra batteries. These items may be hard to find once a hurricane is imminent.
  • Decide where you’ll keep your boat in the event of a hurricane and how you’ll get it there. Move your boat before a hurricane watch is posted, or you may find that bridges are closed or the place that you wanted to keep your boat is too crowded or inaccessible. Also, keep in mind that marinas get very busy prior to a hurricane and may not be able to store your boat.

Some other things to think about:

  • A study conducted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology following Hurricane Gloria (1985) found that boats stored ashore were far more likely to survive than boats in the water. If you store your boat ashore, store it well above the anticipated storm surge and move it out of high-rise storage racks, which are vulnerable in high wind. If you store your boat on davits or a lift, move it ashore.
  • If you anchor your boat during a storm, be aware that a seawall or sandy spit that normally protects a snug harbor can be washed out by the storm surge. The best anchoring is usually found in sand, followed by clay, hard mud, shells, broken shells and soft mud.

Hurricanes can pose a number of threats to boats:

  • Storm surges can raise water levels far above normal high tide.
  • Winds can range from 70 to 200 mph.
  • Waves, even in protected harbors, can build to surprising heights.
  • Hurricanes can bring 6 to 12 inches of rain in 24 hours.
  • Hurricanes can spawn tornadoes and water spouts.

Sources: NOAA, The Chesapeake Bay, opens in a new window, Blue Water Books & Charts, opens in a new window