Storms provide little time for reaction or preparation, but here's what to do during a flood or hurricane warning if you have a sailboat
Placing your boat in the water in early spring is a great feeling. There are usually a lot of tasks to catch up on before raising the sails, but it's never long before a ride on the open water. While sailing as a pastime can offer great joy, it's important to remember the responsibility that comes with protecting your boat.
Owning a sailboat is similar to owning another house. It's an expensive investment that can be costly if damaged by storms or accidents. There are many scenarios that require specific preparations, but for the sake of this post, we're discussing what to do during a flood or hurricane watch. We've created a basic outline to prepare your boat and a few helpful tips from expert resources.
Knowing what to do during a flood or hurricane watch
1. Keep track of weather patterns and possible storms
Knowing about storm weather before a "watch" or "warning" is issued will be your greatest asset. Preparing ahead of time, even if you're not certain a storm will head in your direction, can pay off. Smart sailboat owners always keep a watchful eye on the smallest indications of bad weather days before they become an issue.
The Boat Owner's Association of the United States (BoatUS) provides real-time storm tracking tools on their website, advisory email services, and comprehensive preparation manuals. You can also visit the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for the best news on weather formations and tracking.
2. Have a plan ready
The logistics of preparing and moving your boat can be complicated. Knowing exactly what to do during a flood or hurricane will allow for quick action when it's most needed. BoatUS offers a complete checklist for boat owners to use in case of emergency. The worksheet covers all the equipment needed to minimize damage, locations to bring your boat to, what items should be removed, and more.
3. Contact your marina
If a storm watch is issued, you'll want to coordinate with the marina staff to haul your boat out of the water as soon as possible. Do not wait to call them! It's likely that many other members are requesting the same service, so the marina could become too busy to help you. It's always better to get your boat out of the water and secured further inland.
4. Move your boat to the safest possible location
If it turns out you're not able to haul your boat out of the water, have a list of protected waters where you can secure it. You'll want to seek out areas that have minimal fetch, protecting your boat from larger waves. The two main areas to seek out are canals and "hurricane holes;" however, overcrowding can cause additional issues with boats hitting each other in these small places.
5. Minimize possible wind damage
Once you secure a location, whether on land or in water, you should remove everything that may catch wind during a storm. Here's a list of common items to remove, according to West Marine:
- Any form of canvas, including Dodger and Bimini tops
- Furling Genoas
- Main sail and main sail covers
- Halyard can be secured with string
6. Plug it up
Against heavy rain and wind, your sailboat will likely need a quick fix to plug up any crevices. You also want to secure any loose items that can fall and break. Buy a few rolls of duct tape for the following patch ups:
- All windows and hatches
- Switchboard casing
- Cabinets and drawers
- Seams of windows and doors
Find out more about what to do during a flood or hurricane warning
Of course, there's plenty of quality information to read and study about storm preparation. We suggest asking your marina for expert advice and to walk you through the process. You can also refer to the resources mentioned in this article. Above all, make sure you plan ahead. If you're not prepared with an action plan, you won't know what to do during a flood and it might cost you a lot of money down the road.
Sometimes, there's not much that can be done to protect your boat from harm. Hurricanes can be too much to handle, depending on where you live. Is your boat properly insured and able to face the risk? We can provide you with ample coverage at a reasonable rate. Find out more and protect your investment!
Do you know what to do in a flood for your boat? If you have any extra tips to share, please do so in the comments.