hurricane over ocean

Preparing and Protecting Your Boat in a Hurricane

When a hurricane is bearing down on your region, preparing and protecting your boat might not be top of mind. “Understandably, most people worry first about their house and cars,” says Charles Fort, associate editor of BoatUS Magazine. “But your boat is more likely to survive and incur less damage if you have a preparation plan.”

Fort recommends figuring out a boat preparation plan before hurricane season begins—even if the season is predicted to be mild. You’ll want to execute that plan as early as possible before the storm hits, so your boat is safely stored by the time you’re thinking about evacuating or boarding up your house. Here are the steps Fort recommends you take in order to prepare your boat for a hurricane.

Preparing Your Boat Before a Hurricane

  • Decide where you’ll be storing your boat during the storm. The best option is in a garage, but anywhere out of the water is preferable. “Boats don’t sink on land,” says Fort.
  • If you’ll be trailering your boat somewhere before the storm sets in, decide on your route in advance. Evacuation routes often get backed up with traffic.
  • If you need to pilot your boat through an area with drawbridges, keep in mind that they may stay down to allow cars to pass over them.
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If You’re Storing Your Boat On Land

  • If your vessel can fit on a trailer, make sure the trailer is always ready to go during hurricane season.
  • If you have to leave your boat outside, park the trailer away from anything that might fall on it, like trees or utility poles.
  • Let some air out of your trailer tires once the trailer’s parked, and chock the wheels so it’s less likely to move around during the storm.
  • Tilt the bow up and the stern down. Then remove the drain plug, so water will follow gravity and flow out.
  • Cover the boat and remove anything that might get blown off or damaged in high winds, like sails, antennae or life rings.
  • If you have a boat lift, don’t use it. It’s more likely to get damaged than to help, and boats can even float off if storm waters get too high.

If You’re Keeping Your Boat In The Water

  • Find a place that’s as sheltered as possible.
  • Once your boat is settled in the marina, double the number of dock lines you normally use. Tie the lines so that the boat stays centered in its slip if the water rises with the surge.
  • Have chafe guards on hand (they tend to sell out quickly when a storm is approaching) to shield your lines from friction.
  • Use extra fenders to protect the hull; they can help if your boat gets knocked around by turbulent water.
  • Make sure the cockpit scuppers are free-flowing, so water can drain easily during the storm.
  • Check your bilge pump and ensure it’s operating properly; this could make the difference between a slightly waterlogged boat and one that ends up at the bottom of the harbor.

Of course, if the storm is truly catastrophic, even the best preparations may not be enough. That’s why boat insurance is so crucial, says Fort: “You want to make sure your boat is taken care of.”

Use this sample hurricane checklist from BoatUS to make sure your boat is prepped correctly for the storm.

Let GEICO help you weather a storm with boat insurance, as well as 24-hour dispatch towing service from TowBoatUS. And ask about Hurricane Haul-Out Protection by calling 855-395-1412.

Read More: Here’s the foolproof way to load your boat onto a trailer.

By Nicole Price Fasig

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