Preparing Sailing Boats for a Hurricane

Hurricane season runs from June to November in the Caribbean and Atlantic Ocean, specifically. It is possible for hurricanes to form outside of this window, but this particular period is when sailors can expect a higher chance of hurricanes. The frequency of hurricanes will likely increase as global temperatures rise. Anyone planning on sailing in waters that have the potential for hurricanes should have knowledge of hurricane preparation. 

Sailors should know what to expect from a hurricane. Storm surges can place docks underwater and reduce access to roads. Powerful waves can destroy the seawalls that protect docks and moorings. Wind speeds as powerful as 70 to 130 mph are common, and rainfall between 6 to 12 inches. It is possible that a tornado could form from the hurricane and cause further damage. 

A crucial first step to hurricane preparation is to check the dock contract to see if the marina requires boat-owners to move boats when there is a chance of a hurricane. In-depth knowledge of insurance policy will also help owners navigate hurricane coverage. If boat-owners are able to trailer their boats and leave the area, this is the option that will avoid the most damage. Some owners will choose to haul their boats, using jack stands and bulkheads to provide security against strong winds. 

However, land-based options are not always available. If this is the case, boats should be moored in an area where waves are not likely to build up, like a canal. Some boats will end up being moored at a fixed dock. In this case, owners should make sure to use long lines so that the boat can rise with the water level. Dock lines can break due to chafing, so owners should regularly replace old dock lines and use chafing gear to make sure the lines stay secure. 

Mooring anchors can help protect boats against hurricanes. Helix anchors screw directly into the seabed and hold between 12,000 and 20,000 pounds. It can be helpful to use more than one anchor, perhaps setting two or three anchors to reinforce the boat’s storm stability. Regardless if the boat is on land or in water, owners must remove all canvas from the boat so that it is not damaged by the storm or debris. Anyone heading out for a sailing trip should have some familiarity with storm tracking and listen to local guidelines for hurricanes.