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Hurricane Preparedness Tips for Boaters

If your boat is moored, docked, or stored in a recreation harbor on the East Coast, threat of hurricanes is a very real concern. Even a Category I storm can have devastating effects in a crowded harbor. Although a dockmaster tries to ensure that boats are safe, the responsibility falls upon the boat owner. Critical to good planning is the owner’s knowledge of their boat, their own skills, and the surrounding area. In creating a plan, all options should be reviewed an decisions made as to where the safest place for the vessel, the adequacy of the present mooring or dock and what type of equipment is necessary to have on-board. The following are option, but only the vessel owner can decide which is best.

Option I: Get out of the Water

If the vessel is small and easily trailered, it should be taken out of the water and moved to higher ground. This alone however, does not automatically mean it is safe, it is only protected from the storm surge and wave action—rain and wind must still be considered. The best possible solution is to store these vessels in a covered area, such as a garage.

If this is impossible, then

The drain plug should be installed, and the boat should be partially filled with water if the hull is strong enough to withstand flooding (as most re fiberglass hulls).

If the hull is not strong enough to hold water (plywood or wooden-planked hills), use multiple anchor tie-downs to hold the boat and trailer in position, and remove the plug. Consider large tent pegs (2 feet) or house trailer tie-downs for this anchoring system.

Option II: Stay in Water

Staying in the water assumes that the vessel will either (1) stay on the mooring dock; (2) go to a hurricane hole to anchor; or (3) head out to sea. Each of these options should be considered and accurate information collected will in advance of the hurricane season.

Do Not Go Off Shore

Unless you are the owner of a large recreational vessel, 100 feet or greater, experts do not recommend that you go offshore. Hurricane conditions at sea are extremely violent. Going off shore should not be considered as a viable option for most recreational boaters. Remember, the objective is to minimize property loss without jeopardizing safety.