It’s said that every minute you spend planning saves 10 minutes in execution. When a hurricane threatens, you’ll be glad your plan is ready to go.

The first step in developing a preparation plan is to review your dock contract for language that may require you to take certain steps or to leave the marina when a hurricane threatens. Some marinas require boat owners to have and present a hurricane plan of their own. Ask the marina manager what hurricane plan the marina has in place. Planning where your boat will best survive a storm and what protective steps you need to take should begin before hurricane season.

The probability of damage can be reduced considerably by choosing the most stormworthy location possible and having your plan ready long before a hurricane warning is posted. You may be able to join a “Hurricane Club,” which would allow you to have your boat hauled whenever a hurricane warning is posted. These usually require signing up long before the first hurricanes and sometimes require a nonrefundable deposit, but you’ll be among the first to be hauled.

Before the Storm

  • Relocate the boat if necessary, and secure it as outlined in your hurricane plan included on the back of this page.
  • Check that deck scuppers and drains are open and unobstructed and the boat is positioned so that rainwater will drain from the deck and cockpit.
  • Reduce windage as much as possible by removing sails and canvas as well as dodger and bimini frames.
  • Clear the decks of anything that can blow away, including deck chairs and cushions, jerry cans, watersports equipment, dinghies, small outboards, and fishing equipment.
  • Make the boat watertight.
  • Seal any openings where water could get into the interior or the engine, including hatches, portlights, ventilators, and exhaust outlets.
  • Close interior seacocks/valves including those for the engine, toilet, and sinks.
  • Top up batteries and ensure that any electric bilge pumps are operational; clean all debris from the bilge to prevent clogging of the pumps.
  • Remove all valuables from the boat including electronics and fishing equipment as well as registration and other important documents, and store them at home.
  • Limit potential environmental damage by removing portable gasoline tanks, oil containers, paint cans, and other hazardous chemicals.
  • Lock the boat, but if the boat is in a marina, be sure to leave a spare key with the marina manager so he/she can get aboard after the storm, if necessary.
  • Update all contact information with your marina manager and ask how you be informed when you can return to your boat

After the Storm

If your boat is in a marina, access is likely to be restricted until the immediate dangers have been addressed.

For your own safety, don’t attempt to enter before the restrictions are lifted.

Once you know the status of your boat, contact your insurance company if you need to file a claim.

Be sure to alert your agent to any potential environmental hazards.

Take a complete set of photos of the boat’s situation and any visible damage. If possible, secure the boat against further damage, or ask your marina to do so.

If there is any chance water has gotten into the engine, have it flushed and pickled as soon as possible.

Dry water-damaged areas and items as soon as you get access to the boat to limit mold growth.

If you are insured and your boat needs to be salvaged, do not sign any contracts or make any agreements.

First inform your insurance company and let it negotiate with the marina or salvor.