Boat Hurricane Preparation

How to prepare your boat for a hurricane

Hurricanes pose significant dangers and risks to boat owners, including high winds, torrential rains, and storm surges. As a responsible boat owner, it’s crucial to prepare your vessel for the possibility of a hurricane to minimize damage and ensure your safety.

Preparing Your Boat For A Hurricane Video:

Essential Items for Boat Hurricane Preparation

Here’s a checklist of essential items every boat owner should have on hand to prepare their boat for a hurricane:

  1. Marine-grade rope: High-quality marine-grade rope is essential for securing your boat to the dock, moorings, or anchor points.
  2. Fenders: Fenders help protect your boat from damage due to collisions with docks, pilings, or other boats during stormy conditions.
  3. Extra anchors: Having extra anchors on hand can provide additional security and help keep your boat in place during a hurricane.
  4. Bilge pumps and batteries: Ensuring your bilge pumps are functioning properly and have fresh batteries is critical for removing water from your boat during a storm.
  5. Waterproof covers: Waterproof covers help protect your boat’s interior and equipment from water damage caused by heavy rain and wind-driven spray.
  6. Emergency toolkit: An emergency toolkit should include essential items such as a flashlight, spare batteries, a first aid kit, and basic tools for emergency repairs.
  7. Documentation and insurance: Keep a copy of your boat’s documentation, registration, and insurance information in a waterproof container, and take it with you if you need to evacuate.

Additional Boat Hurricane Preparation Tips:

  • Check Batteries: Check your batteries to ensure they can run your bilge pumps for an unusually extended period of time.
  • Tailored Boats: Don’t forget to remove and secure the drain plug, which should always be removed while trailered anyway

Securing the Boat: Anchoring, Docking, and Dry-Docking

When a hurricane approaches, it’s essential to secure your boat using the most appropriate method for your situation. This section will discuss various methods of securing a boat during a hurricane, including anchoring, docking, and dry-docking, and provide step-by-step instructions for each method.

Anchoring Your Boat for Hurricane Protection

anchoring your boat for a hurricane

Anchoring is a viable option for securing boats during a hurricane if hauling out or dry-docking isn’t possible. Here’s how to anchor your boat effectively:

  1. Choose a safe location: Find a sheltered area with good holding ground, preferably in a protected cove or behind a natural barrier.
  2. Use multiple anchors: Deploy at least two anchors in a V-formation to distribute the load and provide better holding power.
  3. Set anchors at a proper scope: Allow for a 10:1 scope ratio (distance from the bow to the anchor divided by the water depth) to accommodate for storm surge.
  4. Secure all anchor lines: Use chafe protection on anchor lines to prevent wear and tear, and double-check all shackles and connections.

Docking Your Boat During a Hurricane

docking a boat during a hurricane 1

If your boat is permanently docked, follow these steps to secure it during a hurricane:

  1. Double-up lines: Use extra mooring lines to distribute the load and minimize the risk of breaking. Additionally, double-check that the moorings can handle the load of your specific boat.
  2. Adjust lines for storm surge: Ensure there’s enough slack in the lines to accommodate rising water levels while keeping the boat away from the dock.
  3. Use fenders: Attach fenders to prevent damage from collisions with the dock or other boats. If you can’t find fenders, use tires.
  4. Remove loose items: Secure or remove any loose items on deck that may become projectiles during high winds.
  5. Prevent chafing of lines: Wrap lines wherever they could chafe with tape, rags, rubber hoses, or any piece of material that is less likely to chaff than rope.

Dry-Docking Your Boat for Hurricane Safety

dry docking your boat for a hurricane

Dry-docking is the preferred method for protecting your boat during a hurricane. Follow these steps to secure your boat on land:

  1. Choose a suitable location: Place your boat in a high, well-drained area, away from trees and power lines.
  2. Secure the boat on a trailer or cradle: Ensure your boat is well-supported and properly secured to the trailer or cradle.
  3. Block and tie down the boat: Use wooden blocks or jack stands to support the boat, and secure it with tie-downs to prevent movement.
  4. Remove sails and canvas: Take down sails, biminis, and any canvas to reduce wind resistance.

Boat Lift Hurricane Preparation: Securing Your Vessel

Boat lift hurricane preparation

If your boat is stored on a boat lift, additional hurricane prep ideas include:

  • Double-checking the lift’s structural integrity: Ensure the boat lift is in good condition and can withstand the force of a hurricane.
  • Adding extra straps: Use additional straps to secure the boat to the lift, providing extra stability during high winds.
  • Removing accessories and loose items: Remove any accessories or loose items from your boat, as they could become projectiles during a hurricane.

Riding Out the Storm: Staying Safe on a Boat During a Hurricane

In some cases, boat owners may need to ride out a hurricane on their boat. While this is not an ideal situation and not recommended by us AT ALL, the following best practices can help ensure your safety:

Handling High Winds and Waves

  1. Position the boat into the wind: Face the bow of your boat into the wind to reduce the risk of being broadsided by waves.
  2. Maintain a safe speed: Keep the boat moving forward slowly to maintain steerage and stability in rough conditions.
  3. Monitor your surroundings: Keep a watchful eye on your position and the storm’s progress to stay aware of any changes in conditions.

Expert Testimonials and Tips

Experienced boat owners who have successfully ridden out hurricanes on their boats offer valuable advice for staying safe:

  • Stay calm and focused,” says veteran sailor John, who weathered Hurricane Irene on his 35-foot sailboat. “It’s essential to remain calm, make rational decisions, and constantly reassess the situation.”
  • Elizabeth, who rode out Hurricane Sandy on her 40-foot trawler, advises to “prepare your boat well in advance and make sure everything is secured, both on deck and below deck. Double-check your safety equipment, and ensure you have enough supplies and provisions to last for several days.”

Tips for Staying Safe and Comfortable While Riding Out a Hurricane on a Boat

  1. Keep communication devices charged and functional: Ensure your VHF radio, satellite phone, or other communication devices are fully charged and operational to receive updates and communicate with others if needed.
  2. Wear proper safety gear: Always wear a life jacket and safety harness, especially when venturing on deck during the storm.
  3. Secure loose items below deck: Make sure all items are stowed and secured to prevent injuries or damage from items shifting during rough conditions.
  4. Stay informed about weather updates: Regularly monitor weather forecasts and hurricane updates to stay informed about the storm’s progress and make necessary adjustments.
  5. Create a safe space to rest: Designate a secure area below deck where you can rest during the storm. Use cushions, blankets, or other soft materials to provide comfort and minimize the risk of injury during turbulent conditions.

After the Storm: Assessing and Caring for Your Boat Post-Hurricane

After the storm
After the storm

Once the hurricane has passed, it’s essential to assess the condition of your boat and take the necessary steps to ensure its continued safety and functionality. This section will discuss the measures that should be taken with a boat after a hurricane.

Assessing Your Boat for Damage

  1. Inspect the exterior: Carefully examine the hull, deck, and superstructure for signs of damage or cracks. Look for any broken or missing hardware, such as cleats, rails, or fittings.
  2. Check the rigging: If you have a sailboat, inspect the mast, boom, and rigging for damage or wear.
  3. Examine the engine and electrical systems: Check for water intrusion in the engine compartment and verify that all electrical systems are functioning properly.
  4. Inspect safety equipment: Ensure that all safety equipment, including life jackets, fire extinguishers, and signaling devices, are still in good condition and functioning correctly.

Addressing Damage and Repairs

  • Document any damage: Take photos and detailed notes of any damage for insurance purposes. Report the damage to your insurance company as soon as possible.
  • Prioritize repairs: Address critical repairs immediately to prevent further damage or safety hazards. Consult with a professional marine surveyor or repair facility to determine the extent of the repairs needed.
  • Prevent further damage: Take steps to protect your boat from further damage, such as covering holes or cracks with waterproof materials, securing loose items, and removing standing water.

Cleaning and Restoring Your Boat

  1. Remove debris and clean surfaces: Clear away any debris from the storm, and thoroughly clean the boat’s exterior and interior surfaces with fresh water and mild soap.
  2. Dry out the boat: Ventilate the interior to help prevent mold and mildew growth. Use fans or dehumidifiers to speed up the drying process.
  3. Treat and prevent mold and mildew: Clean any affected areas with a mildew remover, and apply a mold and mildew inhibitor to prevent future growth.

Re-evaluating Your Hurricane Plan

After experiencing a hurricane, it’s essential to re-evaluate your boat hurricane preparation plan and make any necessary adjustments:

  • Review your plan: Reflect on your experiences during the storm and consider any improvements you could make to your boat hurricane preparation.
  • Consult with experts: Seek advice from marine professionals or experienced boat owners to gather insights and recommendations for enhancing your hurricane plan.
  • Update your plan: Make any necessary changes to your plan, and ensure that all family members and crew are familiar with the updated procedures.


Preparing your boat for a hurricane is an essential responsibility of boat ownership. By following the guidelines and recommendations outlined in this article, you can help minimize damage to your vessel and ensure the safety of both yourself and others. Timely preparation, thorough inventory management, and staying informed about weather updates are crucial to navigating hurricane season successfully. Remember, your safety should always come first. Taking these precautions can provide peace of mind and help you weather the storm with confidence.

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Steve Momot

Steve Momot

Steve is an accomplished professional photographer and marketer who specializes in the Fishing, Yacht, and Boating industry. With a strong presence as an influencer and marketing expert in the Marine Industry, he has made a significant impact in the field. Additionally, Steve is the original creator and co-founder of Sportfishtrader. Prior to his career as a marine photographer, he gained extensive experience as a licensed boat and car dealer in South Florida.