Hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30. We are currently in the peak of hurricane season, as most storms occur in August and September, and the next major storm could be right around the corner.
High winds, storm surge, rising sea levels, and increased tides are just some of the concerns boaters must consider during hurricane season, and preparing your boat is one of the most important ways you can protect your asset.
- Check your personal dockage, or speak to your marina regarding storm preparations and securing your vessel;
- Many marinas will offer emergency mooring or dry dock provided you have contacted them well in advance — in fact, reserve now for next season — to secure space during an emergency;
- Update your boat inventory and supply lists, photograph the vessel and all important equipment and inventory; and,
- Copy and protect your boat insurance policy, registration and documentation, any lease agreements with marinas or storage facilities, photos, and inventory lists and store them in a safe location.
When a storm is imminent
If you can move your boat to a secure location or ‘hurricane hole’ do so; if not, protect it.
- Fully charge batteries, turn off all electrical systems and confirm the bilge pumps are working;
- Detach movable equipment to prevent breakage; reduce windage and tie down anything that cannot be removed; seal all windows, lockers, outside cabinets, doors and hatches; shut off fuel lines;
- Boats on lifts should be trailered to a safe location or lowered into the water;
- Boats in the water should be at least double tied (cross spring/spider web) and extra fenders should be put in place; use longer lines than normal to allow for tidal rise or surge; and,
- Boats on trailers should be brought as far inland as possible, weighed down and secured and drain plugs should be removed to account for rainwater.
After a storm
- If not sunk or beached, document any apparent damage with photographs, and check all electrical and mechanical systems;
- Remove as much salt, mud and moisture as possible;
- Check bilges and pumps for debris;
- Secure broken rails, seal cracks and holes;
- Check fuel systems; and,
- Report missing vessels to law enforcement immediately.
More helpful information may be found in the Boat U.S. Marine Insurance Program’s “Guide to Preparing Boats & Marinas for Hurricanes,” and Lee County, Florida’s Preparing Your Boat for a Hurricane.
Vessel owners needing assistance or guidance may contact me at email@example.com or by phone at 239-344-1249.