Protecting Your Boat From a Hurricane

The 2017 Atlantic hurricane season has been in full swing since June 1st, and will last until November 30th. Hurricane Harvey, the first major hurricane of the season, caused extensive damage in the southern United States as well as a death toll of 66. With Hurricane Irma picking up and several months left in the season, many people are still at risk, and it is important that anyone in danger of being affected by a hurricane be prepared.

We want to stress that in these dangerous times, it is most important that you make sure that you and your loved ones are safe and prepared for the storm ahead. However, once you’ve ensured that everyone is out of harm’s way, then you can move to protecting your material belongings. If you own a boat, contact us before the storm hits to ensure that your boat is protected with a comprehensive Boat Insurance policy, and follow these tips for preparing your boat for the storm.

Keep it somewhere safe.

Not every location is safe for a boat during a torrential storm. If your boat is in a marina, make sure that the marina in question has prepared for the hurricane and is designed to protect against damage. Marinas with floating docks tend to be safer, but BoatUS advises against using marinas that are protected by shorter pilings or low-lying seawalls, as they are unlikely to be able to protect against surges. You should also consider keeping your boat stored out of the water, whether it is in a dry-stack storage facility or in a trailer, preferably on higher ground. Research your local options and make sure that wherever your boat is stored will be able to accommodate the boat and withstand strong winds and flooding.

Secure your boat.

If you do choose to keep your boat in the marina, there are a number of things to consider when mooring it. According to Boating, all lines should be reinforced with a mate line running in the same direction but attached in different locations, just in case one line falls. When securing your boat, try to attach it to cleats or piling farther from the dock, as rising and falling tides could make the nearer ones useless. All lines should also be reinforced with chafe protectors, because unprotected lines can easily be severed in the harsh conditions of a hurricane. Make sure to anchor your boat as well; helical anchors have been shown to be able to resist 12,000 pounds of pull before breaking, as opposed to 4,000 pounds for deadweight anchors and 1,200 pounds for mushroom anchors.

If you keep your boat ashore, such as in a trailer or on a lift, make sure to tie the boat down and secure it to its trailer or lift, and then reinforce that with anchors.

Reinforce it against damage.

Boats are not immune to wind and water damage. According to Cruising World, removing items that cause wind resistance will prevent them from being damaged and blown away. A sail, for example, could potentially be unfurled during a storm and cause a great deal of damage. Your halyards should also be rearranged to reduce the possibility of damage. One such method of doing so is by tying off the halyards to a common messenger line and running them to the top of the mast, as this will reduce the number of lines exposes.

All exposed instruments on your boat should be covered with duct tape and plywood panels to protect them from water damage. All hatches, ports, vents, and seacocks should be sealed except for the ones that are used for drainage. Items such as electronics, outboard engines, tanks, important papers, and cowl ventilators should be removed from the boat and kept somewhere safe.

Remove any personal belongings you can.

As mentioned above, certain items should be taken off the boat before a storm hits. Anything made of paper should be removed or placed high on the boat in order to keep them dry (though if you have important personal papers or ship papers, they should be removed entirely). Electronics should also be removed, as they are heavily impacted by water damage and can also lead to electrocution.

It’s advised that you remove as much as possible, but take extra caution to remove anything that is particularly valuable or has personal significance to you. In addition to the potential for damage, oftentimes after hurricanes or other large natural disasters it is not uncommon to see people looting and stealing, and your boat could easily fall victim to this.

About Mariners Insurance

Mariners General Insurance Group was founded in 1959 to protect boat owners and marine business clients. We are marine insurance experts, and insure boats worldwide – in every ocean on the planet. Marine insurance is critical if you own a boat or nautical business. Trust the professionals with all of your Boat Insurance needs – trust Mariners Insurance. Call us at (800) 992-4443 any time you have questions or concerns about insurance for your vessel or marine business.