Preparing your vessel for a Hurricane
Growing up in South Florida, preparing for hurricanes of varying categories was a yearly routine. When the deck furniture was brought inside, the small boats pulled to higher ground and filled with water, and the family boat lovingly secured, we moved inside where a big pot of stew sat on the stove. As each storm built in varying degrees outside, we took turns peering through a two inch hole cut through one of the sheets of plywood protecting the sliding glass doors. Rain pounded the roof, trees bent, water rose over the sea wall, and stiff waves rolled down the intercostal waterway formerly known as our playground. History repeats itself.
Forty years later, we find ourselves doing much the same as hurricane Lane spins a path toward the Hawaiian islands. Combining time-honored practice with correlational research from insurance company claims, here are 5 steps we’re taking to protect our boats.
1. Start early: Notification of a hurricane watch in your area is the best time to start hurricane preparations.
Filling onboard and portable fuel, water, and propane tanks will likely save you from sitting in long lines and experiencing exhausted supplies, both commonly encountered as a watch turns into a warning and then an advisory.
2. Secure and stow: Everything on the dock, laying in the dingy, attached to the pulpit, and sitting on deck has the potential of becoming a projectile.
Tie down and lock dock boxes, remove and stow water hoses, life rings, spare anchors, rode, bbq grill, hanging coils of line, and all those other things that have permanent residence on and around the deck and dock.
Items which can’t be removed and stowed such as the boom, wheel, and tiller need to be securely lashed.
Cover all instruments with factory issued covers and further secure from being ripped off with an adhesive tape tested to be safe on the surface.
Walk around and test that nothing moves nor comes off.
3. Reduce windage:
Remove all sails including the head sail from the roller furler.
Take down all enclosures such as the bimini, dodger, and spray cloths.
Secure frames so they don’t move.
4. Prepare the slip:
Add extra fenders to each side
Attach additional lines to different anchor points, i.e. cleats, rings, or posts to secure the boat’s position in the event one of those holding point breaks free (for example, stern line running from port stern cleat to dock cleat on right side of finger pier and a duplicate line running from a port winch to a dock cleat on the left side of the finger pier or to one on another slip) - lines should be like a web
Accommodate storm surges by selecting cleats further away from the vessel rather than those closer.
Cover lines with a chafe guard, such as fire hose, at each place where rubbing occurs i.e. exiting the chock, around a piling…
Use newer lines which have retained their load rating (older lines are greatly compromised).
Set anchors a good distance from the boat and snug tight when all other vessels have stopped moving to keep your boat away from the dock. Plan to leave plenty of scope for storm surges.
close fuel and propane lines
seal windows, doors, hatches
and secure all lazarets
Hurricanes need to be taken as seriously as a heart attack. If you’re not ready, you could loose everything. Add to these suggestions; this is not an exhaustive list. Be proactive and prepare for the worst. If the hurricane should lessen or take a turn, you’ll have even more reason to celebrate. We sincerely wish you no loss.