Hurricane season begins June 1 and runs through November 30, and hurricanes can strike from Texas to Maine in the US. Historically, August and September have been the most active hurricane months. A milder than normal hurricane season is predicted* for 2012, but the savvy sailor will take steps before the season starts to be sure his or her boat is ready for whatever weather develops.
Your prep needs to start before the winds begin to blow:
- Have a plan for what you'll do in case a hurricane is predicted to strike the area where your boat is normally anchored. Once you've created your plan, practice it to be sure all parts of your plan are do-able.
- Be sure you have enough duct tape, rope and other supplies at the beginning of the season. Shortages inevitably occur once a hurricane watch or warning is announced, and you don't want to be the one who finds the shelves empty at your local hardware store.
- Be alert for weather bulletins and act immediately when an alert goes out. For example, if your boat is normally moored in a canal you should be aware that bridges over canals are locked in the down position three and a half hours before the storm is predicted to hit; this is to give priority to ground traffic in the event of an evacuation.
- Your best bet is to remove your boat from the water and trailer it well inland. Once you have your boat at a safer location inland, either store it in a garage or use heavy ropes or chains to secure the trailer to trees or other solid structures. Even well inland the winds and storm surge from a hurricane can be very strong. Remove some air from the trailer's tires and chock the wheels with cement blocks so they can't roll. You should also fill your boat no more than halfway with water to add weight. Don't fill the boat more than halfway as that may put too much of a strain on your trailer. If your outboard motor can be removed, do so and store it safely in a garage or other structure.
- Worried about the cost of hauling your boat inland? Don't be! Insurers recognize that it's wiser to haul boats out of the danger zone than to have them ride out the storm, so they offer Hurricane Haul-Out protection. If a hurricane watch or warning is issued for your area, your policy could pay up to 50% of the cost (subject to the policy maximum) to have your boat moved by professionals. Other expenses such as strapping down and re-launching the boat may be covered as well. Please keep in mind that the availability of the coverage varies by carrier. Check with a customer service representative for more information at 1-800-841-3005.
- If your boat is small or open, removing it from the water is essential as such craft are almost always victims of the wind, waves, spray and rain that come with a hurricane.
- If your boat is normally moored in a marina, check with the marina to determine their storm plan. If your boat can't be removed from the water, ask if it can be moved to a large slip. A boat in an oversized slip with proper tie-downs has less chance of chafing against the sides of the slip.
- Don't wait until a hurricane is predicted to be sure you're insured! Many carriers suspend sales of insurance when a hurricane or other strong storm is predicted for a given area. If you don't already have boat insurance, call today to get a boat insurance quote and see how the GEICO Insurance Agency can help you get insurance for your boat.
- If your boat is damaged, please call 1-800-841-3005 for assistance.