When thinking of hurricane planning and preparations most of us know to include our families, homes, businesses and cars but many forget the risks that our boats and vessels may both face themselves and pose to others. With an estimated 931,450 registered vessels in the State of Florida, those risks can be significant and costly.

Having a storm and hurricane plan in place, practicing it and executing it in time will help to protect your vessel and your pocket.

The Best Place to Keep Your Boat

If you plan to leave your boat in the water, make sure to tie it securely with extra lines and remove anything that may create windage. Marinas with floating docks and tall pilings often fare better than those with fixed docks or short pilings. However, leaving your boat or vessel in the water can increase the chances of it being damaged or causing damage to other structures which you could potentially be held liable for.

If you have the space, moving your boat or vessel indoors to your garage is better. At the very least, they should be moved ashore and onto high ground, taking care to secure them properly to some type of anchor and again, removing anything that may create windage.

The very best option for keeping your boat safe during a hurricane or storm is in a specialized, dry-stack storage facility. There are several options available throughout the state of Florida to accommodate different sized vessels. When choosing the right facility, make sure it is built sound enough to sustain hurricane force winds and other hurricane and storm related forces.

Protecting Your Boat from Surge and Waves

The best way to protect your boat or vessel from surge and waves is by bringing it ashore. When this is not possible however, adding spring lines or doubling up on your dock lines will help to better secure it. Longer spring lines will handle more surge and running them in both directions, fore and aft, provides for even more security. Make sure your boat is well protected from chafe and as a precaution, have the bow face into the waves. Always take into consideration the size of your vessel, the expected level of the surge, and the strength of the storm when securing it.

Protecting Your Boat from Heavy Rains

Even if your boat is kept ashore during a storm, it is recommended to take precautions for heavy rains. Seal any exposed electronics and hatches, ports, or lockers. Test your cockpit drains to make sure they are running properly and plug the engine’s exhaust port. It is also a good idea to remove the anchor, extra fuel tank, kicker motor, and any other heavy items.

Protecting Your Boat from Strong Winds

If you have a sail boat, you should always remove all sails and canvas in preparation for a storm or hurricane to avoid extensive damage. Remove as much deck gear as possible as well as antennas, dinghies, outriggers, cowling ventilators, etc. Anything you can do to reduce your boat’s windage will help protect it.


Just as when making a hurricane plan for your home and family; a plan for your boat should be carefully thought-out and practiced well before hurricane season even starts.

The University of Florida offers a comprehensive Disaster Handbook which offers detailed information on hurricane preparedness for boat owners. To download this handbook, you can visit http://disaster.ifas.ufl.edu/chap7fr.htm.

To minimize costs incurred by any damages your boat or vessel may sustain during a storm or hurricane, we highly recommend having a Boaters Insurance Policy. Contact a Preferred Link agent to request more information or to receive a competitive quote.