How to prepare your boat

Advice for protecting your boat varies greatly, depending on the size of your vessel, availability of dock space, marina rules and state law.

* Do not attempt under any circumstances to ride out a storm in a boat. No boat is worth your life. Hurricane winds, whether inland or near the beach, can lift a boat out of the water or sink it, even if it is secured in a marina.
* Read your insurance policy carefully to determine where your boat is sufficiently protected from hurricane damage. If not, update it right away.
* Keep a copy of the boat registration numbers. Keep the original in a safe place, not on your boat.
* Take a photos of your boat for insurance purposes. This way should anything happen you'll have before and after photos you can share with your insurance company.
* Obtain in advance rope and other materials needed to secure your boat, and make sure fire extinguishers and lifesaving equipment are working and in good shape.
* When the hurricane flags begin to fly, life gets very hectic for boat owners. Whatever your plan, get going early to avoid congestion on the water and on the road. Never try to ride out a storm.

Securing Your Boat at Home

If you can put your boat in the garage, that's your best option. But if you must leave your boat on the trailer:

* Remove important papers, equipment and anything that could blow away.
* Park the trailer near a building.
* Lash it down with chains or heavy ropes away from objects that could fall on it.
* Add weight to the boat by filling it no more than halfway with water. Overfilling can damage the trailer.
* Let some air out of the tires and place blocks beneath the wheels to prevent the trailer from rolling.

Finding a Safe Harbor 

If you can't remove your boat from water, move it to the safest refuge possible – and do it early.

* Emergency authorities will announce over marine radio details of flotilla plans, which are designed to move the largest number of boats in the water shortest period of time (father inland or out of harms way).
* Ground traffic will get priority in an evacuation. That means drawbridges will be locked down within hours, severely limiting boat traffic. That's why it's so important for boaters to act early.
* Canals leading inland offer vary degrees of protection for boats, but most major east waterways are blocked at some point by floodgates. Don't impede other boats by anchoring your in the middle of a canal or river marinas or docks.
* Many marinas must be evacuated during a hurricane alert.
* Check your dockage lease and consult the dockmaster.
* Tie high on pilings to allow for rising water. Run extra line and double every tie.
* Cover all tie lines at contact points with rubber to prevent chaffing.
* Disconnect shore power.
* Be sure batteries are sufficient to run bilge pumps throughout the storm.
* Insert plugs in engine ports.
* Close fuel valves and cockpit seacocks.
* Use duct tape to seal windows and hatches.
* Install fenders to protect the boat from rubbing against the dock.
* Remove all canvas, chains, life rings and other equipment to reduce the wind load.