Every year during hurricane season, generally the beginning of June until the end of November, anxious boat owners fret over what they should do if and when they receive the news that a storm is headed for their slice of heaven.
While there isn’t anything that will completely take the worry out of the equation, being prepared, and having firm hurricane preparedness plans in place for your vessel will go a long way towards making a potential disaster into a weatherable situation.
If your boat is trailerable, you have several options. Unfortunately, unless your trailer is in top working condition, none of these options will help. Before every hurricane season, be sure to thoroughly check your trailer. Check the axle, check the bearings and check the condition of the tires. There’s no time for a flat when you’re in a time crunch!
The first option is to hitch up the trailer and take the boat out of the hurricane path. Hurricanes rarely turn south, so if you don’t have the luxury of time to take the boat completely out of the forecast track cone, trailer your boat south of the predicted track and store it somewhere out of harm’s way. All in all, it’s probably less time consuming to move it somewhere safe than to do all the prep work required to shelter it in place, and restore it afterward.
If you don’t have the time or inclination to move the boat, you can make a very good effort to protect it. After removing anything that is liable to catch the wind (Bimini tops, canvas, covers, etc.), install any equipment covers and tape them down. Cover the dash, any non-removable electronics, and any windows, doors or hatches with heavy plastic and using wide tape, secure the plastic. Keep all coverings as flush to the surface as possible so the wind gusts have nothing to pull on.
Once the boat is prepared, take it to your predetermined location. An excellent venue is on ground high enough to avoid or mitigate flooding. If you can manage it, arrange a location where your boat will be behind a sturdy building or wall which will block some of the wind from the prevailing direction(s). Avoid locations with multiple trees, power poles and other items that could easily become projectiles.
Another helpful arrangement would be a location which has existing tie downs, such as eye bolts held in the ground by concrete. If you don’t have anything that permanent, you can use twist auger tie-down type anchors which have been tightly screwed their entire length into the ground.
Secure the boat to the trailer. Use heavy lines to lash the boat to the trailer. Even use extra lines. Once the wind picks up, it will tend to rock the boat up and down or back and forth. This will cause nylon ropes to stretch, so keep that in mind.
Once the boat is secured, place blocks beneath the trailer frame on either side of the wheels. When this is complete, deflate the tires. Consult your owner’s manual. Depending on the weight of the boat, you may want to consider pumping water into the bilge for extra weight.
Now that the boat and trailer are secured, tie them down to the existing permanent tie downs, or your twist auger tie downs. If you don’t have either, do the best with what you have. Tie the boat and trailer combination to the sturdiest, most permanent fixtures that are available to you.
The most important step in this entire scenario is the advanced planning. Don’t be one of the regretful boaters who couldn’t be bothered with proper preparations!