Known to form suddenly and unexpectedly, a hurricane is never anticipated nor desired, and always seems to cause an uproar of panic and disarray. South Louisiana has always been a clear target during hurricane season due to its location to the coast. Louisiana is home to an industry and culture rich in fishing, swamp-life, and other water-based elements which is why it’s imperative to keep your boat safe during impending weather threats. Preparing for a hurricane can prevent, or heavily reduce, the damage done to your boat and can keep stress to a minimum during the storm.
The first thing to consider when news of a hurricane is on the rise is whether your boat can be moved in a timely manner, or if it must remain on a mooring or in a berth. If your boat cannot be moved, protection is key. Should the boat remain in a marina berth, double all lines, rig-cross spring lines fore and aft, and attach lines high on pilings to allow for tidal rise. Secure the vessel on the offshore side to solid pilings and make sure cleats and other attachment points are strong. If your boat will remain on a mooring, make sure the mooring is designed to withstand the load that will be placed on it by your vessel; your mooring provider can confirm the maximum load. Be sure to inspect chains and swivels that connect to the mooring buoy and double up on the mooring pendant. Covering all lines in order to prevent chafing is a quick step that can save you both time and money. Wrap all lines where they feed through chocks with tape, rags, and rubber hoses or leather. It’s also beneficial to install fenders, fender boards, or tires to protect the boat from rubbing against the pier, pilings, or other boats. If your boat is able to be moved onto a trailer, transport it to a safe location as far from tidal waters as possible. In addition to powerful rain, hurricanes are known to bring in strong winds which can cause trees to topple. Placing your boat in a secure location can prevent a tree from collapsing onto it, as well as a tornado from damaging it.
Preparing for a hurricane allows for more peace of mind during the storm. Before the hurricane, find a reliable news or radio station that will update you on weather forecasts. It’s imperative to monitor weather broadcasts frequently due to how much time is needed to move your vessel, strip sails, derig, or anchor. A great way to prepare for hurricanes is to make sure all batteries are charged, and be sure to locate any back-up batteries if necessary. Another tip that can come in handy in the long-run is creating an inventory of all items, such as personal belongings that you leave on your boat, or ones that you take off. Mark valuable items, so that they are easy to find, and maybe consider keeping a video or photographic record of the boat and its contents in a secure location. Once you’ve taken inventory, locate all important documents and insurance forms related to your vessel such as the registration and lease agreement with the marina or storage facility. Be sure to check your rental agreement and see what they cover, as well as what you are personally responsible for.
Once the hurricane has finally passed, and your boat is safe and sound, do not act too quickly. Contact local authorities to make sure waterways are safe to navigate. Electrical wires could be down, but still “hot” because generators may be operating. There is also the threat of stray electrical currents due to submerged outlets or shore cords in the water. It’s best to not enter the water until you’ve been given the OK by those in charge of patrolling waterways.
While hurricanes cause plenty of chaos and discord, it’s ultimately beneficial to start preparing for the storm as early as possible. Always remove important electronics and personal items on board, and start thinking of the precautions to take that best keep you and your boat safe from harm.