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Hurricane Boat Prep
The right prep makes for a calmer storm
June 2023

wners are responsible for their hurricane boat prep – not dockmasters. Leave them alone; they’re busy with marina prep.

A boat prep checklist comes in handy in these situations. This is my checklist. It’s a generic a la carte menu of decisions, good for a boat in or out of the water, with some personal quirks thrown in.
john rahm
Captain John Rahm
All that blue taping mentioned below – that’s a quirk. I like it. And it’s made it to the 31st version of this list.

Read the list and do what works for you.

Prepare for the worst and hope for the best. A little praying can’t hurt. God(s?) might be the only ones with some time to look after your boat in the middle of a storm.

The List
• Remove valuables from boat, everything you don’t want to lose or get wet
• Tighten all hatches and portholes from inside
• Fill fuel, water tanks and holding tanks (weight)
• Double all pier side lines with eye ends on the boat, adjustable from land of pier
• Double all outside lines with eye ends on the pilings, only adjustable from your boat, not from pier/land

Hurricane Boat Prep
Secure the lines. You want your boat to remain in the water.

• Center the boat in the slip allowing for tidal surge, as much as possible
• If facing a wharf, move boat back from pier, as much as practical
• Remove all canvas, bimini, dodger, hatch covers
• If bimini frame is loose, fasten, tie or secure
• Remove dorades, replace/install with cover plates

Hurricane Boat Prep

• Remove all sails, remove all sails, remove all sails
• If in mast furling, detach outhaul from clew, tie clew/bend around mast, better to completely remove sail
• If in boom furling, detach halyard, tie around boom, hurricane wrap, better to completely remove sail
• If leaving sail on boom/slab reefing, cover and wrap, bad plan
• Tie boom in place with extra lines, give the main sheet some help
• Use aft spare halyard, if equipped, as additional boom topping lift
• Wrap, secure, around tie all lines and halyards that hang on the mast

Hurricane Boat Prep
Using board fenders during Hurricane Irene in 2011.

• Fenders w/ fender boards. Horizontal fenders not good, vertical fender w/ boards only, hang low as possible
• Use every fender owned
• Close all thru hulls
• Secure items inside for rough seas, stuff gets tossed
• Unplug shore power, stow cord
• Turn off propane tanks at the tanks, should already be off anyway.
• Turn off fuel, fuel pick up fitting at the tank
• Turn off all circuit breakers, bilge pumps should be hot wired to batts, don’t turn off bilge pumps
• Turn off batteries, bilge pumps should all be hot wired to the batts
• Secure spare halyards away from anything that chafes, tape the snap shackles closed with electrical tape.
• Tie/downhaul jib/genoa rolling furling cars so they don’t ride up the forestay.
• Remove companionway doors, install hatchboards

Hurricane Boat Prep

• Tape down covers for nav instruments. I like 3M thick blue painters tape. I don’t like instruments exposed
• Blue tape companionway cracks, seal completely
• Blue tape hatches
• Secure lazarette locker latches, wiretie/ziptie
• Nothing sharp or protruding towards inside of slip. Line hangers etc.

Hurricane Boat Prep
Proper preparation can help keep your boat afloat.

• Piling caps? Helps prevent boat from settling back down on top of pilings
• If anchoring, 45 degree forked anchoring (not tandem), at least 10:1 scope, direction of worst wind, best biggest
• If anchoring, snubbers yes
• Ensure dockmaster has your cell/latest info, probably has a marina specific checklist
• If available, volunteer with your dockmaster to help tend marina/boats

Fair winds,
Captain John “Blue Tape” Rahm

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Captain's Blog on TownDock.net is all about making your time on the water enjoyable. Captain John Rahm teaches sailing and boat handling at Third Wave Sailing.