The best way to protect your boat during a hurricane is to move it out of the storm’s path. During fair weather or as soon as you hear storm warnings or watches, talk to your marina’s management team, and see what they advise for pre-storm preparation. They’ll know the water and the area well, so it’s always best to consult them first.
Steps for preparing your boat for a hurricane
Before the next hurricane season, make sure you have a boat hurricane plan. There are several types of docks — floating, fixed, and lift-based — each has its challenges during a big storm. 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.
If you store 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, isinglass, 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.
If you store your boat on water
- Remove personal items, loose equipment, canvas, and isinglass windows.
- If your boat has no self-bailing cockpit, you’ll want to keep the canvas installed.
- 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.
- When replacing your lines, going up a size or more is a good idea.
- Install spring lines and bumpers to prevent damage from your boat banging against the dock.
- Do not secure your boat lifts during hurricanes — take them to ground storage.
Other 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.
Preparing your boat for a hurricane includes more than just moving the boat. Your boat hurricane plan should include a way to recover if your boat ends up in a storm. Boat insurance may offer protection from storm damage. Learn more about how boat insurance covers storm damage.