Guest Post Written by: Jasmine Howard
June 1 marks the beginning of hurricane season — are you ready? While it might seem like you have plenty of time to prepare — and just because hurricane season is beginning doesn’t mean that we’ll have a major storm right away, or even at all — you do not want to be caught off guard if a major hurricane shows up in the forecast.
In most cases, you have at least a few days to prepare for a major hurricane and “batten down the hatches.” But if you live on South Carolina’s coast and a hurricane is in the forecast, you’ll probably have more to worry about than just your boat. That’s why it’s vital to prepare before storm season begins, so you can take action right away and prevent your boat from sustaining significant damage, or even worse. For those who plan on using a boat to get fish in a SHTF scenario these things are important to learn about.
Should I Stay or Should I Go?
The first decision that any mariner must make when getting ready for hurricane season is whether to take the boat out of the water during storms or not. That decision usually comes down to how easy it is to actually take the boat out of the water (larger yachts or fishing vessels aren’t usually trailer-able) and if you have a place to store it safely.
Some harbors are equipped with natural “hurricane holes,” or coves or comparatively sheltered areas where boats can be safely moored for the storm. While perhaps safer than being on the open water or even a crowded marina, hurricane holes generally fill up fast, making it imperative that you get there as soon as possible. Keep in mind that other boat owners will also be trying to protect their property, and the sheltered cove might be crowded during the storm — boats that could potentially damage yours. If you want to keep your boat in the water, assess whether packing it in with other boats that could potentially damage yours, is worth the risk.
In most cases, it’s best to take your boat out of the water during a hurricane. You’ll need a place to store it outside of the potential flood zone and away from trees or structures that could potentially damage it. It also needs to be relatively protected from wind and flying debris. Before hurricane season begins, secure a place to store your boat in the event of a storm, and plan the best route to get there. Account for traffic and evacuation routes in your planning. Be sure that you are familiar with the marina’s policies and procedures regarding hurricane preparation; you may be required to remove your boat by a certain time, or follow other specific instructions. Don’t forget to designate a backup, someone who is familiar with your plan and who can execute it for you in the event you’re unable to get your boat out of the water in time.
Preparing Your Boat
Once you’ve determined what you plan to do with your boat, it’s time to prepare the boat itself for weathering the storm. If you’re planning to take the boat out of the water, you won’t need to do much more than ensure that you have the proper tie-downs to keep the boat on the trailer while it’s stored on land, if you won’t be putting it into a garage or safe storage facility.
If you’re planning to leave the boat moored during the storm, experts recommend using additional anchors in addition to your permanent mooring to provide backup in the event that the storm breaks your mooring line. Once you have a plan for anchoring, assess what else needs to be lashed or removed for the storm, such as sails, dinghies, cushions, wheels, and booms. Run through a practice drill to ensure that you have all of the necessary supplies, and to determine how much time it will take you to complete the preparations.
It’s also a good idea to take a complete inventory of everything that is on the boat — including photos of the boat and all valuables — and to label everything of value that could potentially be blown or washed off the boat. Include your inventory and photographs with all of the documentation about your boat (registration, title, etc.), so that you can provide it to officials if necessary after the storm.
Preparing for hurricane season takes some time, but is well worth the effort when storms do come. If you aren’t willing to deal with storms, or you didn’t prepare last year and have a storm-damaged boat, consider donating your boat to Boat Angel South Carolina and taking a tax deduction while helping a worthy organization.
A powerful hurricane is too dangerous to face unprepared, so be responsible and make the necessary arrangements.