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How to Prepare for Hurricane Season on a Sailboat

How to Prepare for a Hurricane in a Sailboat

Preparing a sailboat for hurricane season, three ways to come out of the storm intact.

Hurricane season is a time of high risk for sailboat owners, especially those who live in coastal areas prone to storms. Hurricanes can cause severe damage to boats, docks, marinas, and anchorages, as well as endanger the lives of boaters and their families. Therefore, it is essential to have a plan for how to protect your sailboat from a hurricane and to act on it before it is too late.

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Three Ways to Secure a Sailboat in a Hurricane

There are three main options for securing your sailboat during a hurricane: tying up at a marina, anchoring in a protected harbor, or hauling out on land. Each option has its advantages and disadvantages, depending on the location, condition, and design of your boat and the marina or harbor. Here are some tips for choosing and preparing your boat for each option.

Tying up at a Marina During Hurricane Season

If you decide to keep your boat at a marina during hurricane season, you should look for a berth that is sheltered from open water and storm surge, has sturdy pilings and cleats, and has an established hurricane plan. You should also coordinate with the dockmaster and other boat owners to ensure that everyone follows the same procedures and guidelines.

Some of the steps you should take to tie up your boat at a marina are:

  • Use long lines (at least as long as your boat) to allow for tidal fluctuations and wind shifts. Use chafe protectors on all lines to prevent them from wearing out.
  • Use spring lines to prevent your boat from moving forward or backward too much. Use fenders or fender boards to cushion your boat from the dock or other boats.
  • Point your bow toward the least protected direction or open water, if possible. This will help your boat face the wind and waves better.
  • Remove or secure any loose items on your boat, such as canvas, sails, bimini tops, cushions, antennas, etc. These items can be torn off by strong winds or become projectiles that can damage your boat or others.
  • Make sure your boat is watertight and seal any leaks or openings. Close all hatches, ports, vents, and seacocks. Check your bilge pumps and batteries to make sure they are working properly.
  • Disconnect shore power and water hoses. Turn off all electrical devices and appliances on board.

Anchoring a Sailboat During a Hurricane

If you choose to anchor your boat in a protected harbor during a hurricane, you should look for a location that has good holding ground, adequate depth, minimal fetch, and few obstructions. You should also scout the area beforehand and get permission from the authorities if necessary.

Some of the steps you should take to anchor your boat in a harbor are:

  • Use two or more anchors of adequate size and weight for your boat. Set them at different angles and distances from your boat to create a wide swing radius and reduce strain on each anchor.
  • Use heavy-duty chain or nylon rode with adequate scope (at least 10 times the depth) for each anchor. Use chafe protectors on all rode segments that may rub against anything.
  • Use swivels or bridles to connect multiple rodes to your bow cleat or chain plate. This will allow your boat to rotate around the anchors without twisting the rodes.
  • Remove or secure any loose items on your boat, as mentioned above.
  • Make sure your boat is watertight and seal any leaks or openings, as mentioned above.
  • Disconnect shore power and water hoses. Turn off all electrical devices and appliances on board.

Hauling out a Sailboat During a Hurricane

If you have the option to haul out your boat on land during a hurricane, you should do so as soon as possible. Hauling out your boat reduces the risk of sinking, flooding, collision, or theft. However, you should still take precautions to prevent wind damage or falling debris.

Some of the steps you should take to haul out your boat are:

  • Choose a reputable boatyard that has a secure storage area, adequate equipment, and insurance coverage. Make reservations in advance and confirm them before hauling out.
  • Remove or secure any loose items on your boat, as mentioned above.
  • Make sure your boat is watertight and seal any leaks or openings, as mentioned above.
  • Disconnect shore power and water hoses. Turn off all electrical devices and appliances on board.
  • Remove all drain plugs from your hull.

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Which Method of Hurricane Prep Do You Prefer?

Drop us a comment down below. Which method is safest for you? Why do you prefer one way over the other?

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