The Ultimate Guide on How to Secure Your Boat for a Hurricane

The Ultimate Guide on How to Secure Your Boat for a Hurricane

From Texas to Key West to the BVI's and other boating destinations, hurricanes slam United States coastlines with increased intensity each passing year.

Storm surges, winds, rainfall, waves and even the occasional tornado, are all in the realm of hurricane territory. And preparedness is necessary to survive these natural disasters.

We boaters, especially, should know how to secure a boat during a hurricane. But what's the first step should this extra-nasty weather come knocking on your dock?

Here are some tips to help you secure your boat and keep it afloat when the next storm rolls in.

Make a Personal Hurricane Evacuation Plan

Know what to expect in a hurricane and plan ahead. Create an evacuation plan for yourself, family and your pets. You'll want to get ready long before a hurricane warning is posted.

Part of preparation is learning to be a storm watcher. If you already store your boat at a marina, check with the harbormaster to find out the hurricane plan already in place.

Ideally, you should have a Plan A and Plan B:

  • Plan A: Haul your boat as far away from the water and coastline as possible, and secure it on the trailer with chocks and wheel docks at home or a nearby storage facility.
  • Plan B: If there's no time and limited options, go for Plan B and at least secure it in the water as best you can.

Below, we'll break these plans down into further details on how to secure your boat in a hurricane properly. But whether you use Plan A or Plan B, here are the initial steps you should take.

Check Your Boat Insurance's Hurricane Coverage

During a hurricane, boats get scattered along the shoreline. Check your boat's insurance and make sure it has hurricane coverage. Chances are, if you live in a hurricane-prone area, you have it. But it's best to double-check anyway.

Companies like BoatUS/Geico specialize in boat insurance and are great places to start with quotes.

Be Wary of Storm Surges

Storm surges bring water onshore and are often underestimated when preparing for storms. This can cause major damage because it puts docks and dock lines underwater as the boat attempts to continue floating. Keep in mind that surges of up to 10 feet are common in hurricanes.

RemoveActual (and Potential) Sails

Whether you're on the water or not, remember to remove all extra items that could become a sail from your boat. This includes power boat dodgers,pontoon biminis and sails from sailboats.

Raining Cats and Dogs: Mind the Rainfall

Don't underestimate how much rain can fall during a hurricane. It isn't uncommon to see between six and 12 inches of rainfall within a 24-hour period.

Cockpits are rarely 100% watertight and bilge pumps can only pump so fast. Torrential rain often sinks boats, which is why it's best to stick to Plan A and try to secure your boat indoors, possibly in your garage.

Wave Heights

The ocean has been blessed with tremendous energy and with that waves can reach tremendous heights. Even harbors and marinas that are normally calm can have breaking waves that reach three to six feet high.

Remember, hurricanes aren't the norm even though they are becoming more frequent. 

Tornados: You're Not in Kansas

Hurricanes have offspring and sometimes spawn tornados. If a tornado touches down, there's little you can do to prepare.

However, if you have a trailer to haul your boat, your best bet is to get far away from the coastline and be ready when the hurricane makes landfall. After all, you're not in Kansas anymore so get your boat back up on the shore.

Plan A: Land Ho!

If you need to move your boat, where do you go? A nearby marina? Your garage? Your buddy's garage? Consider the time it'll take to get the boat ready, load it and possibly battle traffic.

A trailer can be your e-ticket ride to a better shelter away from surges and the possibility of tornado touchdowns.

Maintain Trailers

Don't neglect your trailer. There's nothing worse than two flat tires and some rusty wheel bearings when you're attempting to outrun a hurricane. Make sure to take properly maintain your trailer as well as your boat on a regular basis.

Featured Boating Product


 Wheel Chocks and Dock

Check Price on Amazon - Better Boat's wheel chocks and dock are made of ultra-thick plastic and have a rigid surface for stability and a loop handle for removal. The dock works on soft ground or pavement to prevent the trailer tongue from sinking

If you're leaving your boat on the trailer with chocks and wheel docks during the hurricane, you'll want to secure the trailer to trees or anchor it with an auger. As mentioned earlier, make sure to remove all gear that could become a sail or could be damaged by rainfall.

Seek Shelters

If you take your boat home, it's wise to store it in the garage, as opposed to your car (sorry, car). Why? Because your boat most likely weighs less than your car. Not-to-mention your boat sits higher in the air and has the potential to blow over in high winds if it's kept outside.

Use Reinforced Jack Stands

Leaving your boat on jack stands requires the same type of preparation as does a trailer. You may want to also reinforce the stands with chains and plywood if necessary.

Be sure to get the correct jack stand for your boat's hull: Standard Flat Jack Stand (check price on Amazon) and Keel Jack Stand (check price on Amazon).

Avoid Davits and Lifts

Insurance companies and their team members often cringe at the thought of leaving their own boats on a hoist or lift during a hurricane. That's because insurance companies see hundreds of damage claims for boats left on lifts and blown off their cradles. In addition, collapsed lifts also leave boats spilled about the shipyard.

Plan B: Mooring or Anchor

If you can't trailer your boat to a safer location, your only option is to stay on the water. So you need to know how to moor and anchor to secure your boat during a hurricane. Knowing how to do so is half the battle. Here's a good battle plan to save the day.

Relocate to a Hurricane Hole

Leave major bodies of water and seek out smaller canals, rivers and waterways (if available). These areas are better known as "hurricane holes" and offer less wind and an alternative to otherwise crowded marinas. Always anchor your boat with the bow facing into the wind.

Featured Boating Product


 Dock Lines

Check Price on Amazon - Better Boat's dock lines are made of marine-grade double-braided nylon to keep boats safe while tied at the dock or a mooring ball. 

Use Long (and More!) Dock Lines

Boats on docks get bounced around during hurricanes. If it breaks loose, expect to find it blown out of the harbor and possibly stranded. If you're at a fixed dock in a hurricane, use extra caution and longer dock lines.

Members of the Boat U.S. Cat team estimate 50% of boat damage could have been prevented using proper dock lines. So make certain to use longer and larger lines and arrange them sensibly.

If you store your boat in hurricane-prone areas, practice tying up and devise a dock plan for hurricane line management. The more space a boat has in a slip, the better its chances are of surviving a hurricane.

Minimize the movement of the boat by arranging multiple dock lines to help prevent the boat from encountering dock or pilings.

The "Spider Web" Method and Ample Anchors

If your boat is already in (or relocated to) a "hurricane hole" and away from open waters, secure it by the spider web method. Using this method, you can secure the boat in the middle of the canal with multiple lines running to both sides of the shore. Securing a boat in mangroves works well.

Always utilize multiple anchors. If you locate anchorage in a wider canal or waterway, more lines and anchors are always better. Remember to find an area away from open water.

Will Your Mooring Hold?

Hurricanes are infamous for dragging moorings. So one of the first questions you must ask: Will it hold? 

Know how to hook onto the mooring ball ahead of time and make sure you have your mooring's chain inspected periodically and if you have questions about it ask your harbormaster. They're a great resource at any marina or harbor.

Interestingly enough, a conducted study found helix anchors and helix moorings to be the strongest anchor around for hurricanes.

Always Stay Safe

There isn't a simple answer for hurricanes. Taking the boat inland is your best bet, however, there are times when you can't trailer your boat inland and you must navigate to a safer location.

But if your boat must stay in water during a hurricane, never stay aboard with it. You're not the Titanic's Captain. There's absolutely no need to go down with the ship, no matter how much you love her.

Do everything you can do to protect your boat, family and pets when a hurricane approaches. Once you've done what it takes, head inland.

Your boat's replaceable. You and your family are not. Stay safe!