Keeping your Boat out of Trouble
Now that the tropics are beginning to get fired up for the second half of the hurricane season, it’s a good time to make sure you are ready to protect your personal watercraft from storm damage both on the water and on land.
Obviously, the size of your vessel will play a major part in what you can and cannot do to protect your property from an approaching hurricane.
If your boat is not easily trailerable or must stay in the water, you have four main options available to you:
- DRY DOCK: You can have the marina place your vessel in dry dock, in a secure boat hangar. If this is your intention, make sure your arrangements are made far enough in advance to get your boat secured safely before the storm arrives.
- BERTH: You can berth at a dock with sturdy pilings that offers reasonable shelter from water and storm surge. Double all mooring lines, but remember to leave enough slack to allow for rising water. Crossing spring lines should be rigged fore and aft and secured high on pilings. All rough points should be wrapped with tape, rags or rubber hose to prevent chafing and breakage. Install extra fenders to protect your boat from rubbing against the pier or other boats.
- ANCHOR: You can anchor your boat in a protected harbor with a bottom that allows a good anchor hold. You would need heavy anchors for this option; however, your boat can more easily respond to changes in the wind and water this way without the danger of striking docks or other boats. Three points of contact with the harbor bottom are recommended for anchoring in this manner.
- HURRICANE HOLES: Hurricane holes are deep, narrow coves or inlets that are surrounded by sturdy trees that block the wind and provide tie-offs for your anchor lines. These provide the same advantages as anchoring in a harbor, but with the added protection of the natural wind-break created by the trees. Obviously, these spots may be in high demand, so planning ahead is highly recommended if you intend to secure your vessel this way.
For those vessels that can be easily removed from the water and stored inland, it is a bit easier to manage your storm preparations earlier in the game when a storm is threatening your area.
Here are some simple tips for protecting your boat out of the water.
- Bring it inside! Your boat will be better protected from wind damage and flying objects if it is stored on its trailer inside your garage or shed.
- Secure your boat outside. If you must store your boat outside during a storm, be sure to strap it securely to its trailer and cover it. Not only will a cover help protect it from falling or flying objects, but it also prevents sun, rain and wind abrasion damage. Secure your trailer to a solid foundation, if possible, and let out at least half of the air in the tires.
- Trim those trees! Trim back large, dead or dying trees and branches that could fall on your watercraft storage space in a strong storm.
Regardless of where you will secure your boat during a storm, you should always remove all movable equipment and gear. If it cannot be removed, it needs to be secured to the boat. Anything that can come loose in a storm should be removed or secured. You can also seal windows, doors and hatches with duct tape to enhance the watertight integrity of your boat.
With a bit of preparation, you can greatly increase the chances of your boat surviving the hurricane season and providing you with many more years of fun and enjoyment on the waves!