August 28, 2012
Alexandria, VA - One of the most effective steps you can take to protect your boat in a hurricane is to make your plan well before a hurricane warning or watch is posted. Any extra gear you may need -- lines, fenderboards, anchors -- should be purchased now, before the shelves at chandleries have been emptied by last minute shoppers. You should also review your marina contract for any language that may require you to take certain steps when a hurricane threatens. But, first and foremost, you need to decide where your boat will be safest.
If your plan is to have your boat hauled out and strapped down ashore, talk to your marina manager now so that your boat is at the top of the list when boats are being pulled out of the water. If your boat is on a trailer, it should be stored away from trees and, if possible, secured to the ground with earth augers. Let some of the air out of the trailer tires and block the wheels. Only tight, snug fitting covers should be used; anything that's loose will be shredded and blown away. If the boat is uncovered, place wood blocks between the trailer's frame and spring to support the added weight of rainwater, which will accumulate even if the plug is out.
Boats on lifts are vulnerable to the surge and are sometimes collapsed by the added weight of accumulated rainwater. If your boat is on a lift, the best plan is to put it on a trailer and take it inland to high ground. If that's not possible, take if off the lift and secure it in the middle of a well-sheltered slip. If for whatever reason you must leave the boat on a lift, lash it down securely and add padding between the lift motor and hull. Note that if a storm warning is posted for your area, insurance from the BoatU.S. Program will help with the expense of having a professional do the preparation and/or hauling, reimbursing you 50% up to $1,000 of the cost to get your boat out. Included in this coverage is reimbursement to have a professional captain move your boat to a more storm-worthy location.