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Hurricane Tips for Yacht Owners

Hurricane Tips for Yacht Owners
Palm trees during a hurricane
hurricane evacuation route picture

Living in the southern coastal areas of the US, particularly Florida, is a dream come true for yacht owners who love cruising the open seas. However, it also means that they should be ready for the hurricane season that lasts from June 1 to November 30. While the 2023 hurricane season is expected to have fewer storms than usual, with only 13 named storms, six hurricanes, and two major hurricanes projected by Colorado State University, it is critical for yacht owners to have a well-thought-out hurricane preparedness plan in place to safeguard their prized assets and minimize stress and complications during a hurricane. To keep your yacht safe and secure during a hurricane, it’s important to follow these essential tips before, during, and after the storm.

Before the Storm — Hurricane Tips for Yacht Owners

policy image Before the hurricane hits, your top priority should be the safety of yourself and your loved ones. However, don’t forget to review your yacht insurance policy and coverage plan for hurricane damage. It’s essential to understand your responsibilities and liabilities as a yacht owner because some insurance companies may require specific actions to make a valid claim.

Check Your Lease Agreements

It’s also important to review your lease or rental agreement with your marina or storage facility to ensure your yacht is covered under your policy. Make sure to ask the dockmaster about their hurricane preparedness procedures and include them in your own plan. Some marinas may require boats to evacuate, while others may have specific resources or steps to secure your yacht. Be sure to carefully review your marina contract and take note of any stipulations regarding natural disasters.

If you’re considering moving your boat to a boatyard or hauling it out from the water to secure it on land, it’s essential to strategize where you plan to move it ahead of time. Keep in mind that many facilities and hurricane-safe marinas fill up quickly, so make sure to plan accordingly and secure a spot as soon as possible.

How to Secure Your Yacht Before a Hurricane

securing your yacht Before securing your yacht for the approaching hurricane, ensure that it has a full tank of fuel. This will be critical in case of an emergency or if you need to relocate temporarily due to a prolonged power outage.

To avoid losing any loose items and prevent them from becoming hazardous projectiles during a hurricane, remove anything that is not permanently attached to your boat. This includes items such as sails, canvas, electronics, cushions, bimini’s, and roller furling sails.

Additional tips to help you secure your boat before a hurricane:

  • Secure everything you are unable to remove such as tillers, wheels, and booms.
  • Inspect pilings before tie-off and double all lines
  • Rig crossing spring lines fore and aft.
  • Attach lines high on pilings, using a half hitch knot to allow for tidal rise or surge.
  • Make sure lines will not slip off pilings. Inspect pilings and choose those that appear the strongest, tallest, and are properly installed.
  • Drop anchors fore and aft, and ensure each anchor is well set.
  • Anchor rigging should consist of a new or good line and chain.
  • Ensure that all essential emergency gear, including battery-operated radios, first aid kits, and flashlights, is in proper working order.
  • Fully charge the batteries and check to ensure they’re capable of running the automatic bilge pumps for the duration of the storm.
  • Consider backup batteries.
  • Shut off all devices consuming electricity except the bilge pumps and disconnect shore power cables.
  • Hauling: The best course of action is to haul your vessel out of the water and move it to a safe location as far from tidal waters as possible and away from trees and other boats that may topple.
  • Use extra fenders, fender boards, or tires to absorb impact if conditions get bad.
  • Check hatches to ensure they are secure and detach any windscreens.

  • Securing Smaller Boats Before a Storm

    For smaller boats and trailers, it’s imperative to weigh them down with tie-downs or store them in a garage to prevent them from becoming airborne during hurricane winds. This also applies to boats located in a boatyard. Make sure to remove any items that could tear off in strong winds to minimize potential damage.

    To minimize the damage caused by a hurricane, it’s recommended to secure the vessel to an anchor point on concrete using lines with minimal stretch. Also, avoid leaving the boats on davits or hydraulic lifts during a storm. Riding out the storm on the boat is also not advisable. However, if keeping your boat on a lift is the only option, follow these precautions:

  • Securely strap the boat to the lift
  • Remove all portable equipment, canvas, etc. Tape all hatches and electronics covers
  • Check bilge pumps & batteries
  • Raise the lift to the highest safest point and secure the base of the lift to the pilings to minimize sway

  • Inventory List – Hurricane Tips for Yacht Owners

    Once your yacht is securely anchored, make a comprehensive inventory list of all the items on board. The most convenient way to do this is by recording a video of both the inside and outside of your yacht. Additionally, gather all legal documents for your vessel, such as the title, registration, insurance policy, recent photograph of your yacht, marina agreement, radio license, and store them in a safe location off the boat. It is also a smart idea to keep essential phone numbers, such as the U.S.A Coast Guard, Harbor Master, and National Weather Service in an easily accessible place.

    Preparedness Tips for Hurricane Warning/Watch

    during a hurricane As soon as a hurricane watch or warning is issued, the situation can quickly deteriorate, endangering the area in the next 24-36 hours. After securing your yacht, it’s crucial to evacuate inland immediately. Remember, your life is irreplaceable, and no boat is worth risking it. Review your hurricane evacuation plan and ensure you have all the necessary resources, including enough food, water, and medications. Stay informed about the latest developments by monitoring TV and radio broadcasts, if possible.

    Quick Note: To ensure your safety, stock up on canned food and water for at least three days, along with any necessary medication and supplies. Don’t forget to fill up your vehicle’s gas tank as well. Secure any outdoor furniture or loose objects, and board up your windows to prevent shattering during the storm. If you’re in a mandatory evacuation zone, follow the instructions of your local officials.

    After the Storm — Hurricane Tips For Yacht Owners

    Once the hurricane has passed, wait for the all-clear and make sure the conditions are safe before checking on your yacht. Be cautious as the aftermath of a hurricane can be dangerous, with downed electrical wires and power lines, as well as debris-filled roads. Once officials have deemed it safe, take necessary precautions for any leaking fuel, missing dock boards, or other potential hazards.

    Complete a Full Walk-Through Inspection

    Once you have safely returned to your yacht, conduct a thorough walk-through inspection to assess any damages. In the unfortunate event that you find damages, be sure to create an itemized list of all affected areas and submit an insurance claim as soon as possible. Keep in mind that insurance claims are addressed in the order they are received, so it’s important to act fast. If you suspect any theft or vandalism, don’t hesitate to file a police report.

    How to Speed Up the Yacht Claim Process For Hurricane Damage:

  • Send photos of the damage and the video documentation you took before the hurricane occurred to your insurance.
  • Create a list of damaged property, including description, cost, and receipt if possible.
  • Keep a journal of your emails and calls with insurance companies and adjusters to keep track and manage the claim process.
  • Have your policy information when you call the insurance company, including the insurer and policy number.

  • Safe Boating

    We hope that our comprehensive hurricane tips for yacht owners have equipped you with the necessary knowledge to safeguard your yacht before, during, and after a hurricane. For additional safe boating practices, explore our other articles below.

    Related Articles – Boating Safety

    Boating In Bad Weather — What You Need To Know
    First-Time Yacht Buyer Insurance Guide
    Boating Safety Guideline for Predeparture & On the Water
    Filing a float plan
    Top Tips for Pets Aboard

    Resources: Hurricane Marine Preparedness- BKS | Discover Boating