Preparing your boat for a storm
Preparing Your Boat for a Storm.
With all the storms coming up the coast this time of year I was thinking about what Iíd need to do prep my boat to survive a hurricane. Thought some of you might be interested and others might have some good thoughts as well.
First of all, my boat is in a slip in a fairly protected area. If I had a trailer, I would probably get it out of the water and bring it someplace well inland. However leaving a boat on the trailer in the path of the storm is not a good idea either. If the wind or strom surge is strong enough it could get up under the boat and trailer and flip it right over. This is true for boats up on blocks as well. Most experts say the best thing to do in either case is to get your boatsí bow on the ground and chock the sides to the ground rather then have it suspended on the trailer or blocks. Sounds kind of extreme but if you get a cat 5 storm boats can get thrown around like sticks. If your boat is stored on a rack it would be best to get it down or at a minimum make sure you have it strapped to the rack.
Now for boats in slipsÖÖ
Best possible slip you can have is one with 4 pilings, one in each corner. The pilings should be at least 6 feet above the gunwale of the boat. If you have short pilings and you get a heavy storm surge and start rocking your boat could wind up getting pushed up on top of the piling which could breach the hull and sink it.
Best way to secure the boat is to put double lines on everything. After you have done that itís also a good idea to secure additional lines to as many different places as you can both on the boat as well as pilings or bulkheads. This helps spread the load as well as reduce the risk of a single point of failure. If one of those double lines let loose or a piling or cleat, that single point of failure may just be what sinks your boat.
Boats that are tied parallel to bulkheads need to take special precaution to keep the boat off the bulkhead. One way to do this is to take an anchor and set it on the opposite side of the bulkhead out from the boat and secure it to the boat so it will keep it off the bulkhead.
One thing you want to avoid is to secure your boat to a cleat that is screwed into a wooden dock. A good storm surge will pull a cleat out of a dock very easily and your boat will be toast. Best thing to do would be to re-tie directly to pilings. If thatís not possible then move the boat to a safer slip or get it out of the water
One thing everyone should do regardless of where your boat will be for the storm is to remove any fabric tops or enclosures. First of all, if the wind is strong enough it can either rip it apart or damage it. Secondly, they catch air and cause your boat to be lifted or list to one side more easily. Listing comes into play with large sport fishermen with fly bridge enclosures. If the wind catches something up that high it can make the boat list severely, tip it over and flood the cockpit
The problem that most people tend to overlook is neighboring boats. You can do everything possible to prepare your boat to survive a storm. If however your neighbors boats arenít secured properly itís all for naught. Best thing to do is make sure all the boats in your general area are secured properly. If not, get the owner to resolve the issue or move your boat to a safer location. In a severe storm all it takes is one boat in a marina or canal to cut loose and the next thing you know it causes the domino effect.
Some additional suggestions from our own Captain Frank from Seatow:
Here are some suggestions to help your boat last in your slip during a blow.
#1- Double all lines. Make them both the same lengths so they both share the strain- and double the strength of the holding power. One line shorter than the other would mean only one line bearing all the stress at a time.
#1a- chafing gear. Wear. Lines that touch the gunnels will wear quickly in a wind and rocking boat sawing at them. Put a section of split open garden hose over that area. Electrical tape/ wire tie them in place over the lines to be protected.
#1b- Larger lines. Put the biggest lines you can fit. Your cleats limit that size. Most 18-28 footers can accommodate 1/2-inch three-strand nylon lines. If bigger(i.e. larger diameter lines) will fit(e.g. 5/8th inch) through your boat's cleats- do it.
#2- Plug up scuppers. More boats sink from stern-to conditions than for rainwater not draining.
#3- Share the watch. Hook up with a few other people who have boats in your marina and you can TRUST. Then schedule visits so that your boat and theirs is checked two or three times each day by one of you in that group. Get on board. Look in the bilge each time. Boats do not break lose or sink all that quickly. A morning and evening on board boat visit should do just fine.
#4- Make sure that the battery(s) is/are all charged up and in good shape. Bilge pumps de-water the rain. Your biggest enemy is the wind and a surging tide.
#5- A BIG ONE. Make sure on non-floating docks( fixed docks) that YOUR boat can not get trapped under a dock in a rising tide. LOTS SINK THIS WAY. BEWARE!!!!! Make sure the lines do not let that happen on a very high rising tide.
Given all that and no failure of dock itself. You should fair out well if it actually does happen.
Gerry Zagorski <><
Founder/Owner of NJFishing.com since 1997
Proud Supporter of SSFFF and RFA
28 Carolina Classic
Sandy Hook Area
Re: Preparing your boat for a storm
And to add to that, if you don't care about your boat/property at least secure your stuff for those of us that do care. I was prepping mine on dry rack and all the boats around me had nets and loose items on the deck just waiting to be blown into others vessels.
'04 Pro-Line 25 Walkaround "Sea-Monkeys"
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