The year 2020 has not been short on surprises. Tropical storms began forming before hurricane season officially began on June 1 and have been a constant ever since. On average, hurricane season brings roughly twelve named storms. This year has more than doubled that with 28 named storms as of early November, twelve of which were upgraded to a hurricane. Eleven named tropical systems made landfall in the U.S. so far, and out of the twelve hurricanes that have formed to date, six of them have struck the contiguous U.S.
As we near the end of 2020 and look back at one of the most active hurricane seasons in the history books, now is the time to plan and prepare for the next. What worked and didn’t work? What could have been done better? While storms are unpredictable, there are many actions boaters can take to protect their vessels. Here are a few basic tips to help outline your hurricane plan.
When a storm is pending, consider where your boat will ride out the storm
“Land is by far the safest place to store your boat in the event of a hurricane or tropical storm,” notes Al Tate, Market Development Director for Sea Tow. “If possible, hook your boat up to a trailer, drive it inland and store inside a wind rated building. If you do not have access to a wind rated building, attaching your boat to a trailer and anchoring the trailer to the ground is the next best option.”
It is not recommended to leave your boat in the water, but if that is your only option, follow these two tips:
- Secure your boat to the dock with longer, larger lines and choose lines that are protected against chaffing. Thick, nylon lines won’t hold up to the swinging and swaying that is often caused by storms.
- Move your boat to a larger slip if available and place storm lines high on the pilings. This will reduce the chances of your vessel crashing into the dock.
If your boat is stored at a marina, it is essential that you have a copy of your storage contract on file. Know what the pre-storm plan is to protect your vessel, know who is responsible for pulling your boat out ahead of a storm, and if you have any questions, be sure to contact the marina well in advance of the season.
In order to reduce windage, it is recommended to remove all canvas if your boat will ride out the storm in the weather. Mainsail covers, mainsails, cockpit covers, and powerboat covers should all be removed prior to a storm’s arrival. While the storm may not cause damage to your boat, it is likely that any canvas objects will be damaged or destroyed by wind and debris.
It’s important for boaters to take photos and/or videos of their vessels in its current location and condition and create an inventory of all items aboard the vessel. This will help ensure that your vessel is covered appropriately for damage caused by the storm.
“Let’s be clear, whether you are in an area prone to hurricanes or not, it is crucial for boat operators to have proper insurance for their vessels,” Tate said. “Sea Tow suggests boaters contact their insurance provider prior to hurricane season and acquire a comprehensive breakdown of what is covered in the unfortunate event that your boat is damaged or submerged during a storm.”
After the storm passes, assess the damage, and if necessary, contact your insurance company.
Every policy is different, so it is important to be well-versed in what is covered and what is not, especially when it comes to storm recovery. Know the phone number to call to submit a claim, how the claim will be paid, and if you or your insurance carrier will be paying the recovery vendor.
“Should your boat need to be recovered, know that Sea Tow works with most insurance providers for boat recovery, transportation and disposal if necessary,” Tate added. “The activity we’ve seen in 2020 has resulted in Sea Tow assisting hundreds of members and other boaters with post-storm salvage and recovery. Our broad network of licensed and insured captains and crew are ready to respond to any damage situation.”
If you are currently uninsured or shopping for a new policy, consider Sea Insure®. Sea Insure is boat and yacht insurance created by boaters for boaters. Primary policy features include replacement cost, agreed value, actual cost value, salvage and wreck removal and much more. Visit seainsure.com to learn more.