Each marina has different rules for what the shipowner should do in the face of an approaching storm. After Katrina and Wilma, countries began issuing legislation requiring shipowners to prepare their boats in a certain way. Given all this information, some of it contradictory, what is the most important thing that shipowners should know to protect themselves and their boats during the storm?
There are two basic rules that most experts agree offer the most important advice. First, plan ahead for what you will do when the storm strikes and prepares a hurricane checklist. That means checking your contract with your marina to see what they need and checking with your country for any additional rules. You should also check your rental boat insurance company to see if the rules affect your coverage. Do a dry run during the off-season to make sure you really understand how much time it takes to move or prepare your boat.
Secondly, under any circumstances, it’s safe to try to ride a storm on your ship. There is a continuing myth that being on the boat in the open waters is safer than landing during a storm, but the facts do not work. Hurricanes and tides can bring boats deep inland or even drown them. Your boat is not worth risking your life.
Moving a boat is always the best way to prevent damage if possible. However, this requires arrangement for inland storage space well ahead of time. In addition, many shipowners are unaware that towing bridges are often locked before the storms facilitate the evacuation of people from the lowlands. This increases the importance of moving your ship as soon as the storm clock is issued to your area.
Some areas have fleet plans in place to move the maximum number of ships in the shortest possible time. The local emergency management office will issue fleet information before the storm. If you plan to join the fleet, make sure that your ship is maintained and maintained properly.
If moving your boat is not a possibility there are some simple things you can do to minimize damage. Remove all portable items from your ship such as electronics, antennas, dinghies, sun shades, oars or other items that can explode and cause damage. Make sure the remaining items are safely removed. Get the rope and other equipment to secure your ship well first because these items may be in short supply before the storm.