Did you know that some insurance companies will reduce their storm deductible from 10% to as low as 5%, or even 3%, if you implement a hurricane plan and save your boat from damage? 10% of your boat’s value as a deductible is a big number, so it pays to risk manage your storm exposure.
So what is a hurricane plan? Well, it should be unique to the type of boat, its location and the severity of the forecast. But here are some general guidelines you can follow to help save your boat from damage:
1. If it is practical to get your boat out of the water and moved to higher ground, you should do so. Rain and wind will still be an issue, so remove all equipment and store in a safe place.
2. “Hurricane Clubs” provide a good solution if provided by a reputable marina with the facilities to haul, tie down securely and seal your boat. Many provide up to three haul outs per season for reasonable fees. If you store your boat in a stack storage building, make sure the building is hurricane rated. Many are not, and it could be better to have the boat outside on the hard tied down.
3. If your boat is in the water and in a harbor/marina, then the following actions should be taken depending on the severity of the storm forecast:
- Ensure your boat is secure with fenders in place.
- All dock lines need to be in good condition, doubled (with chafe protection) and adjusted properly. Remember to allow for the storm surge and wind direction.
- Life lines should be open and tied down.
- All loose items on the boat and dock need to be tied down or removed.
- Ensure your batteries are charged, and test bilge pumps and float switches.
- All portlights and hatches need to be closed, and companionways closed and locked. Cowl vents should be removed.
- Shore power should be disconnected and power cords stowed.
- If you have a dock box, and a surge in excess of 1 ft. is forecasted, you should move it to higher ground and lock it.
- Windage is a big issue, so reduce the amount of surface area the wind can act on.
- Remove canvas/isinglass off Biminis and dodgers.
- Remove all sails and tie down booms.
- Dinghies should be taken ashore if possible, and tied down securely. If they are left on the davit, they could fill with water and break it.
4. Do NOT leave your boat on a boat lift, because boats can only be lifted a few feet, and therefore, may be washed away during a storm surge—or fill with rain water and collapse the lift.
5. “Hurricane Holes” are an option, but the problem with anchoring your boat there is that other boats around may break loose and can start a chain reaction—leaving all of the boats in a pile at one end of the hole. If that happens, it is considered an “act of God” and everyone pays their own deductible (even though one boat may be identified as the lone culprit).
6. Timing is everything! If NOAA posts a named storm warning, act quickly to work your plan. If the storm doesn’t hit, some of the expenses you incurred may be covered by your insurance policy under what is termed “Hurricane Haul Out Expense.” But even if it isn’t, it’s a small price to pay to save your pride and joy and protect your investment.