Skip to content

How to Prepare A Boat For a Tropical Storm

Storm Preppers - How to Prepare A Boat For a Tropical Storm

Boats are particularly vulnerable to tropical storms, which can cause severe damage to vessels that are not properly prepared. Preparing a boat for a tropical storm requires careful planning and attention to detail. Regardless of whether you plan to stay in a marina, haul your boat out of the water, or ride the storm out on board (not recommended!) there are several steps you can take to ensure that your vessel is as safe as possible.

The first step in preparing your boat for a storm is to reduce the surface area of your vessel. This involves removing all covers, dodgers, canvas, and any gear stored on deck, including dinghies. This will help to minimize windage and reduce the risk of damage from flying debris. In addition, it is important to secure all loose items below deck, such as furniture, appliances, and personal belongings, to prevent them from becoming projectiles in high winds.

Another crucial step in preparing your boat for a tropical storm is to ensure that it is properly moored. This involves inspecting all dock lines and mooring pendants to ensure that they are in good condition and are of sufficient strength to withstand high winds and storm surge. It is also important to use long lines to allow for changes in water level and to set multiple anchors to provide additional stability. By taking these steps, you can help to ensure that your boat is as safe as possible during a tropical storm.

Assessing the Risk

Before preparing a boat for a tropical storm, it is essential to assess the risk of the storm and determine the appropriate actions to take. The following factors should be considered:

  • Strength and path of the storm: The National Hurricane Center provides updates on the strength and path of storms, which can help determine the potential impact on the boat.
  • Location of the boat: Boats located in areas prone to flooding or storm surges will require more preparation than those in protected areas.
  • Type of boat: Different types of boats require different preparation methods. For example, sailboats with masts will need to have their masts removed or secured.
  • Age and condition of the boat: Older boats or those in poor condition may be more susceptible to damage during a storm.

Once the risk has been assessed, it is important to take appropriate actions to protect the boat. This may include:

  • Securing the boat to a sturdy dock with proper lines and fenders
  • Removing or securing loose items on the boat, such as sails, cushions, and electronics
  • Checking and securing all hatches, ports, and doors
  • Ensuring that the bilge pump is working properly and the batteries are charged
  • Consider hauling the boat out of the water if possible

By assessing the risk and taking appropriate actions, boat owners can minimize damage and ensure the safety of their vessel during a tropical storm.

Preparing the Boat Before the Storm

As soon as you have been notified that a storm may threaten your area, you have to get to work quicky. Preparing a boat for a tropical storm, especially if you are not close to the where it is moored, may take some time. Before the storm comes, you have to inspect the boat, take photos of it, find ways to secure it and prepare the interior and exterior for all possible tropical storm impacts.

Remember, adequately preparing your boat for a tropical storm is crucial to ensure its safety during and after the storm. Here are some steps you can take to prepare your boat:

Secure Loose Items

One of the most important things you can do to prepare your boat for a tropical storm is to secure all loose items on board. This includes items such as chairs, tables, and any other movable items. These items can become dangerous projectiles during a storm and cause damage to your boat or other boats in the marina. Use bungee cords, ropes, or straps to secure these items to the deck or below deck storage areas.

Remove Sails and Covers

Remove all sails and covers from your boat before the storm. This will prevent them from being damaged or torn during the storm. Make sure to store them in a secure location, such as a storage unit or your home, to avoid any potential damage or loss.

Add Extra Lines and Fenders

Adding extra lines and fenders to your boat can provide extra protection during a tropical storm. Make sure to use strong lines and secure them to the dock or other sturdy structures. In addition, adding extra fenders can help protect your boat from potential damage caused by other boats or debris during the storm.

Preparing the Crew

To prepare for the unfortunate event where you will have to ride out a storm whilst on board, there are many things to consider and plan for. What roles will crew members play? What are the emergency procedures if something goes wrong? What are some of the essential items to keep on board?

Assigning Roles and Responsibilities

Assigning roles and responsibilities to each member of the crew is essential in ensuring everyone knows what to do during a tropical storm. The captain should assign tasks based on each crew member’s strengths and experience. It’s important to have clear communication and ensure that everyone understands their assigned roles and responsibilities. Here are some possible roles and responsibilities to consider:

  • Captain: responsible for overall safety and decision-making
  • First Mate: responsible for coordinating the crew and ensuring everyone is prepared
  • Engineer: responsible for monitoring and maintaining the boat’s systems
  • Cook: responsible for preparing meals and ensuring everyone stays well-fed and hydrated
  • Navigator: responsible for monitoring weather forecasts and helping the captain plot a safe course
  • Crew: responsible for assisting with tasks as assigned by the captain or first mate

Briefing on Emergency Procedures

It’s important to have a plan in case of an emergency during a tropical storm. The captain should brief the crew on emergency procedures and ensure that everyone knows what to do in case of an emergency. This should include:

  • How to use life jackets and other safety equipment
  • How to abandon ship if necessary
  • How to use the boat’s radio to call for help
  • How to use flares and other signaling devices
  • How to stay calm and focused in a stressful situation

Essential Items to Have on Board

Seasoned boat owners know that these items should be kept on board at all times, even during good weather. These essentials will enable you to be ready for any situation that may pop up on board:

  • Emergency Kit
  • Communication Devices
  • First Aid Kit
  • Food and Water
  • Life Jackets

Surviving a Tropical Storm on a Boat

There have been many survival stories of boaters that made it through adverse tropical weather whilst on their boat. Although many of them would have recounted scary situations where they doubted whether they would make it, they somehow had the strength and fortitude to make it through. However, there is no guarantee that you will survive if you choose to ride out the storm on your boat. Always take safety precautions and do not take unnecessary risks.

After the Storm

After the storm has passed and the all-clear has been given, you should check on your boat. Be wary of hazards that may be around your boat. Hazards may include loose wiring, fuel leaks, damaged docks, and debris. At this point, your focus should be on assessing damage to the boat, cleaning up and filing insurance claims.

How to Prepare Your Boat for a Hurricane

For more information about how to prepare your boat for a hurricane, visit the following links:

State Farm: Preparing your boat for a hurricane
Boatus: Where To Keep Your Boat During A Hurricane
Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection: Preparing Your Boat For a Hurricane
Starboard Yacht Group: Getting Through Hurricane Season as a Yacht Owner
City of Hampton (Virginia): Hurricane Preparedness for Boat Owners
YachtWorld: Hurricane Prep For Boaters: Protecting Your Yacht In Storm Season
WINK News: Preparing your boat for hurricane season and a storm
The Advantages: Hurricane Preparation Tips For Yacht Owners
United States Coast Guard Atlantic Area: Your Boat and Hurricanes

Image: Department of Homeland Security

Related Posts