Planes were meant for flying, boats were meant for sailing. Unfortunately, hurricane season is the time of year when we’re most likely to see a boat fly. Here are a few tips to batten down the hatches and to keep your boat safe.
Most folks scramble for boats when they should be scrambling for insurance policies. Some policies specifically dictate what damages they will cover while others require some form of boat relocation (meaning hauling it to higher ground).
Check with your marina to see what they will cover should a dock finger wind up on your boat. And if they require that all boats are hauled.
If your boat is on a trailer, make sure self-bailing plugs drain properly. Some boaters I know do the opposite; they drop their trailer tire pressure to about 20 pounds and partially FILL their boat with water. They maintain the weight keeps it from being lifted off the ground.
Decide sooner rather than later. If you’re worried, haul your boat and if it’s big enough, hire a crane to pull it. If the storm misses you, your boat is safe. If the storm hits you, your boat is safe. You win either way, but be sure to do it sooner rather than later. There are old captains, there are bold captains, but there are no old, bold captains.
Coastlines get pounded during storms, so if you can’t haul your boat, then sail it to a protected cove or up a river. Obviously this cruise should be done well in advance of the storm, and pick a waterway that allows for as much of an inland mooring as possible.
Once there, anchor your boat with no fewer than four anchors, with each one set in the direction of the wind. Make sure one is a storm anchor.
If you have time, add a backing plate to cleats so they don’t get pulled out by the strong winds. To prevent an anchor line from fraying and breaking, cover the wear points with chafe gear. Take a piece of a garden hose, cut it lengthwise, and slide it over the line. Place it in all points where the line rubs against the boat, and duct tape it closed. Leave the bilge pump on and shut all fuel tanks off.
Consider moving your boat out of the water. Higher-than-normal tides combined with winds can toss dock fingers on top of boats. Remove all paperwork, registration, and electronics. Remove all gear. Chairs, outriggers, sails, everything that isn’t attached.