Preparing for a Storm

Loose Boats in a Marina Wreak Havoc

A secure marina may not be the most hospitable location during a hurricane. Despite your best planning efforts, your neighbor may not have been so diligent in his. Consider the following:

  • Does the dock-master have an established hurricane plan in place?
  • If not, will you be required to evacuate?
  • Will the layout, construction, and design of the marina's piers and slips assist in keeping your boat safe?

Your Docking Plan

If you can't point the bow toward open water, point it toward the least protected direction. A boat lashed down in a marina can't turn to face oncoming wind and waves, radically redirecting the forces on a vessel.

The key to your docking plan is long lines - the longer the better - to accommodate the predicted storm surge. A good rule of thumb is that they measure at least as long as the boat itself. The BOAT/US Catastrophe Team estimated that as many as 50% of the thousands of boats damaged during Hurricane Andrew could have been saved had they used longer lines and better docking arrangements.

Efforts should prevent your boat from moving laterally and at the same time allow it to rise and fall during storm surge. Make sure docklines cannot slip off the top of the pilings. Storm surge may raise your boat completely above them and if not securely in place, your boat may be impaled when the surge recedes.

Should I Stay with My Boat?

Never! There is absolutely nothing you can do when hurricane force winds are screaming across the deck. Fifty percent of all hurricane-related deaths occur from boat owners trying to secure their boats in deteriorating conditions.

Your boat should be stripped of anything that can become loose during the storm, which includes un-stepping the mast in sailboats. Boat documents, radios, and other valuables should be removed from the vessel prior to the storm, since you never know how long it will be before you can get back to your boat after the storm passes.

Develop a well-thought-out hurricane plan, be prepared to implement it in the shortest time possible, and when completed, leave the boat to its own survival.