Boating is a luxury, but safety and precaution are vital. If you’re a keen boater, then you want to be well prepared for any kind of possibility. Hurricanes are a frequent occurrence and it is best to be fully prepared if you’re caught in one. This is true for all kinds of boats, be it a pontoon, a sail boat or a yacht. Having a hurricane plan always helps.
Follow these few simple steps to keep your boat prepared in a hurricane:
1. The Profile: During bad weather, its best to make the profile of the boat as narrow as possible. You can do this by facing the boat into the least protected direction.
2. Move the Boat: In many cases, most damage done to a boat during a hurricane is by the docks itself. It would be a good idea to move your boat to a mooring field if there is one near your marina.
3. Lines: To make sure that your boat is as secure as possible, have at least 6 dock lines, 2 bow lines and 2 stern lines. It is important to have dock lines longer than your boats as most damage occurs when dock lines are too short. Double dock all lines to make sure that there is enough scope to account for larger tides.
4. Nylon lines: These are recommended are widely available. They come in two types. The “laid” line, which is an all purpose rope and the “braided line”, which rarely kinks and is easy on the hands. Avoid using the type called “pole lines”, these are considered a poor choice for dock lines.
5. Knots: It is important that you are well versed with the proper way to tie your line. The amount of knots you use in tie-offs will determine the strength capacity that the line will give you – which means, you need to avoid them as much as possible.
6. Chafe guards: Dock lines are expensive, so it would be a good idea to cover the dock lines with chafe guards to minimize the damage caused to them by the hurricane force winds.
7. Clear the Deck: Make sure that nothing that cannot be secured remains on the deck. It would be ideal to keep the deck absolutely clear. Remove all deck furniture, cushions, spare anchors, and use duct tape to fasten down antennas and anchor rode lids. Also, avoid uneven weight distribution on the deck so that the balance of the boat is kept proper.
8. Protection from water: Water can damage a lot of things on your boat. So make sure that you remove all cowlings and seal all openings. Seal the exhaust openings as well and close all sea cocks as well. And ensure that all the scuppers in the cockpit are draining properly.
9. Fenders: Good fenders on your boat will always be a blessing. In addition to securing your boat correctly, it is also important that the boat is equipped with good fenders to withstand the pressure winds from the hurricane.
10. Be well informed: Make sure that you are always well informed about weather and climate conditions. Always listen to the weather reports before heading out and make sure you have access to a radio when you are on the water. This helps increase your safety and gives you a head start to make it shore in time when rough weather is expected.
In addition to these basic techniques, you might want to back up your asset by getting it insured. Another option would be to store your boat in a boat house if you can manage it. This will save you a lot of trouble during rough weather and it involves only a one time investment to build the boat house.
And finally, when a hurricane hits, its best to “leave the boat” behind and make your way to shelter as well. DO NOT stay on a boat during a hurricane, and you don’t want to be in the path of one either.