How to prepare a boat for a hurricane

During hurricane season, have a plan to protect your boat in advance of severe weather. When a hurricane watch or warning is in effect, immediately move your watercraft out of the storm's path, if possible. Consult with your marina’s management team, and see what they advise for pre-storm preparation, as they typically know the water and the area well.

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Steps for preparing your boat for a hurricane

It’s important to find robust dock cleats or new concrete or pliant wood pilings that can properly secure the dock lines. BoatUS estimates that 50% of the vessels damaged from hurricanes at fixed docks might have benefitted by using better dock lines.

Your best option for hurricane boat storage is to keep your boat on dry land during any named storm. Here are a few ways to protect your boat during a hurricane, on land or water, this storm season.

Tips for storing your boat on land

  • Remove the hull drain plug and ensure your boat's bow is at a higher angle than the stern

  • Remove loose items from the interior cockpit and bilge

  • Remove any canvas, as in glass, or Bimini tops from the exterior

  • Tie down or remove anything that could catch the wind

  • Remove loose personal items and electronics

  • Remove (and securely store) any ownership documents

  • Use a tight-fitting mooring cover or a custom storage cover to protect the boat's interior

  • Make sure your bilge pump is operational, including its auto-float switch

  • Tie the boat/trailer down to the ground using hurricane spikes

Tips for storing your boat on water

  • Remove personal items, loose equipment, canvas, and glass windows

  • Keep the canvas installed if your boat has no self-bailing cockpit

  • Plug your vessel into shore power to fully charge batteries and keep the bilge pump operational

  • Make sure the bilge pump is operational, including its auto-float switch

  • Inspect all dock lines, replacing any that are undersized or show any wear at all

  • Consider going up a size or more when replacing your lines

  • Install spring lines and bumpers to prevent damage from your boat banging against the dock

  • Don't secure your boat lifts during hurricanes — take them to ground storage

To help cover all of your bases, BoatUS offers a hurricane preparation worksheet.

More considerations for your boat hurricane plan

Your boat hurricane plan doesn’t end when the storm clears. If your boat has been in a hurricane, it’s a good idea to visit the dock as soon as roads are open so you can inspect any damage. Even if your vessel hasn’t sustained damage, dry the interior areas that got wet as soon as possible, especially if any water entered the bilge.

The most expensive parts of any boat are the engine, outdrive, or other mechanical systems, and they’re all located at the boat’s lowest point. Get these systems inspected by a professional immediately to mitigate any damage. If there is visible damage or your mechanical systems are compromised, you may want to get a boat survey to assess the extent of the issues.

Check out Progressive’s hurricane preparedness checklists for protected waters, rack storage, trailerable boats, and wet slip.

Preparing your boat for a hurricane includes more than just moving the boat. Your boat hurricane plan should include obtaining boat insurance as a way to recover if your boat ends up in a storm. A boat insurance policy can offer protection against severe weather.

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