Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Storm Planning and Procedures

July 9, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

storm planning 1


No matter the prediction for this hurricane season, all it takes is one powerful storm to destroy property and jeopardize lives. Start preparing while the sun is shining — follow our checklist and protect your valued vessel (and/or your investment). You’ll be prepared with time to spare, because once a storm looms, you want to focus on your safety instead of your stuff.

Things to do now:

  • Scan or copy your boat registration or documentation and keep it with your boat insurance policy. Photograph your boat from all angles and also create an inventory of property and equipment on your boat. Take photos or video, and keep receipts for all recently purchased equipment and accessories.
  • Make a hard copy of all documents, lists, and photos and keep in a secure spot away from your boat. (Keep a separate hard copy or place your file on the cloud or computer.)
  • Inquire about hurricane preparedness and procedures at your marina, yacht club, or boatyard. If you’re at a mooring, check with the harbormaster. Learn the storm surge history of the area and about safe routes to more protected waters.
  • If you plan to move your boat to a safer harbor before a storm, practice the route and note the time.
  • Understand weather warning flags:
Small Craft Advisory: weather 1 Gale Warning: weather 2
Storm Warning: weather 3 Hurricane Warning: weather 4
Alerts mariners to sustained (more than two hours) weather or sea conditions, either present or forecast, that might be hazardous to small boats. The threshold conditions for the Small Craft Advisory are usually 18 knots of wind (less than 18 knots in some dangerous waters) or hazardous wave conditions. A warning of winds within the range of 39 – 54 mph (34 – 47 knots). Gale warnings may precede or accompany a hurricane watch. A warning of winds within the range of 55 – 73 mph (48 – 63 knots). A warning that indicates that hurricane winds of 74 mph (64 knots) and higher, or a combination of dangerously high water and rough seas, are expected to impact a specified coastal area. When a hurricane warning is announced, hurricane conditions are considered imminent and may begin immediately or at least within the next 12 to 24 hours. It is of utmost importance that precautionary measures are taken for protection of life and property.


When a storm is predicted:

  • Follow your marina or boatyard plan for securing or hauling boats, or relocate your boat to a safe place.
  • If your boat will remain in the water, replace anchor rigging chain and line as necessary. Remove portable gear, canvas, sails, and booms; secure hatches, ports, and doors. Everything inside and outside must be secured and unable to fly about or become airborne.
  • Check that all emergency equipment is working and stock up on batteries.

If a Hurricane Watch is issued:

  • Boats on trailers should be sheltered, lashed, and tied down securely. Deflate trailer tires.
  • Fuel tank(s) should be filled for boats remaining in the water. Clean filters, bilges, and cockpit drains, and charge batteries.
  • For docked boats, connect shore power, be sure current is flowing and the trickle charger is operating. Attach extra lines to boats, with adequate length for highest water level (check surge predictions). Place bumpers around your boat and between neighboring boats, replace anchor rigging chain and line as needed — and then add more!
  • Secure boats at mooring by checking and replacing fraying lines. Add additional lines.
  • Give the dockmaster or harbormaster your phone number(s) and alarm code, if applicable.
  • Write out marina, harbormaster, and towing emergency contact numbers in case your cell phone has no service.

During a Hurricane Warning:

  • Attend to the safety of yourself and loved ones. 
  • Don’t stay on your boat, and never head out to sea to “ride it out.” Boats are replaceable — don’t risk your life and jeopardize first responders.
  • Do not venture out to check on your boat during the eye of the storm. Wait until weather and local authorities sound the All Clear.

storm planning 2

When it’s All Clear:

  • Wait for emergency personnel and utility workers to finish before you check on your boat.
  • Do not drive or wade into flooded areas. Do not approach your boat if there are dangling or downed wires, and/or if you smell gas.
  • Don’t climb in or on boats piled together. Don’t go near vessels dangling between land and water.
  • Once it’s safe to do so, inspect your boat thoroughly, documenting any damage and loss with photos and video.
  • If there’s damage, move only what’s necessary to prevent further damage to your boat or nearby property.
  • If the boat is listing, check the bilge from bow to stern for water and inspect lockers and hatches for damage.
  • If the boat is beached, proceed with care. Tape the following notice to the boat:


Authorities, please reach me at [your phone number].

  • Contact your insurer and place a claim before proceeding to remove, repair, or replace any damaged or lost items. (Don’t sign any contracts for hauling, salvaging, or restoration without first checking with your insurance company.)
  • Thereafter, remove wet coverings and cushions to prevent mold.
  • Tug the cleats, lines, and anchor (as applicable) to make sure everything is still holding tight.
  • Lend a hand to fellow boaters.


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