As Hurricane Season Begins, Here’s How To Prepare Your Boat For A Major Storm

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Visitors check out the interior of a boat at a recent Houston Boat Show.

With hurricane season underway, boat owners are being encouraged to take steps to prepare for major storms. 

Scott Croft, with the advocacy group Boat U.S., said a lot of owners get into trouble when they try to secure their boat at the last minute. Others find themselves in a dangerous situation when they attempt to ride out the storm on a boat.

Croft said it’s the preparations before the storm that really matter.

“The number one way you can prevent damage to your boat is get it out of the water,” said Croft. “Boats that are hauled out of the water have a significantly greater chance of lasting the storm and having minimal damage.”

But Croft acknowledged that’s often difficult to do with larger boats since many marinas don’t have the capacity to haul those vessels. He said if you anticipate having to leave your boat in the water it’s essential to have a hurricane plan in place well before any warnings.

“One of the best things you can do is get yourself a kit,” said Croft. “In that kit should be things like extra lines so you can double the lines to every cleat.” He also said it’s important to have chafe protection to keep lines from snapping.

Removing things like sails is important as well. Croft said he saw extensive wind damage when he was in Clear Lake with a catastrophe team after Hurricane Ike in 2008. He observed boats that would have probably come through unscathed had their owners removed tops and canvases.

On top of the pre-storm preparations, Croft said it’s also important to have a good insurance policy on your boat.

“Haul-out coverage usually pays half of the haul-out fee prior to a storm coming in,” said Croft. “It makes the decision to haul out that much easier. It can be expensive to haul a boat so that kind of coverage sort of lessens the bite to get the boat out of the way.”

Another issue during storms are boats left in boathouses. They could be damaged by rising waters or the boathouse itself could collapse. Croft said if you do have to keep a boat in a boathouse, secure it the best you can and make sure to pull off any valuables like radars and radios.

“Leaving a boat in a boathouse is probably not the best thing you can do,” said Croft. “If you can’t haul out, check your insurance policy. You want to be fully compensated when that boat is lost.”

There’s also the problem of lost boats littering roadways after a storm, blocking the way for rescue workers. Croft said fiberglass boats can also be difficult to repair or recycle.