Hurricane Matthew has some real potential for devastation as it heads up the east coast of Florida. By now you’re hopefully well stocked and prepared, and if you’re in the path of the storm, perhaps you’ve evacuated. If you have a boat, this of course, poses another problem, another stress, and another action item on the hurricane preparation to-do list. At Marine Insurance, we’ve seen it all and have the experience to know the best possible ways to prepare your boat for a massive storm.
- Where to Keep Your Boat: The best places to keep your boat during a hurricane are ashore on high ground or ashore and secured with little to no stretch (i.e. eyes set in concrete or helical anchors drilled to the ground), a marina with tall pilings and floating docks, dry-stacked storage facilities built after Hurricane Andrew (In Florida, construction standards were upgraded after Hurricane Andrew in 1992, meaning newer racks have been constructed with heavier structural support.).
- Secure Your Boat: No matter where you’ve decided to keep your boat, there are additional points to consider to make sure it’s secure, such as chafe, cleats and chocks, and windage. Normal chafe protectors are inadequate in high wind situations, and must be stronger and longer than normal to prevent the lines from severing. You can make your own protectors using heavy canvas or with fire hose (check with your fire department for discarded, used fire hoses). Larger cleats and chocks are required when using longer, larger and more numerous lines. In addition, the extra forces exerted during a hurricane will require stronger attachments of the cleats to the deck. Determine the size of lines you’ll be using and, if necessary, add bigger cleats to accommodate them.
- Reduce Windage: Reducing wind resistance is key to protecting your boat, so remove items such as biminis, antennas, deck-stowed anchors, sails, running rigging, booms, life rings, dinghies, etc. Also remove furled headsails as they offer quite a bit of wind resistance. Arrange haylards to reduce flogging and damage both to the fittings on the halyard and to the objects in their path.
- Prevent Water Damage: Do anything and everything you can to prevent excess water from entering the boat. Remove all cowl ventilators and replace with closure plates, tape off vents with duct tape, make sure Dorade box and cockpit drains are clear of debris, close all seacocks except those used for drainage, and put bung plugs in unused thru-hulls and one in the exhaust to prevent water from flooding your engine. Remove all electronics from the boat, as well as outboard engines, portable fuel tanks, propane tanks, important documents, and other personal items.
- Give Yourself Time to Prepare: Start preparing your boat for a storm the second you think it may hit your area. A hurricane watch is issued when hurricane conditions pose a threat to a coastal area within 36 hours. It may seem like a lot of time, but when you’re dealing with storm prep for a boat, you’ll find yourself needing more time. Start moving as soon as you feel a hurricane is probable, and do not rely on emergency services for assistance. Secure your boat, double-check everything, turn off all electrical power, and leave the boat!
This covers the basics on how to best prepare your boat for a hurricane. For more information and additional tips, click here. There’s no more important protection for your boat than insurance, and we can help. For those in the path of Hurricane Matthew, we hope that you stay safe.
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