Preparing your boat for storms

Sailboat silhouette is a burst sun beams shooting out through the clouds as a sailboat moves along the water towards the light.


The summer season has the potential to bring fun-filled days and enjoyment for many boat owners. Experienced mariners know fickle weather is a fact of life, but some weather events have the potential to seriously damage or even destroy your vessel. If a storm is forecast on the horizon, having a plan in place can help you to prepare.

Secure and Protect Your Boat

If possible, consider hauling your boat out of the water. It is important to not delay this action because as a storm gets closer, your boat ramp or marina may become congested as more boat owners take the same action. Hauling can help protect your boat against damage from contact with the dock or improperly secured vessels.

Also consider the anticipated tidal surge, and if this will overcome the location near the marina or boat ramp, consider moving the boat further inland or find a convenient area of higher ground where you have already received permission to place your boat until the storm passes. Remember, if you plan to keep your boat on land, be sure to remove the drain plug to help prevent water from collecting in your vessel.

Regardless of whether your boat will be on land or in the water during severe weather, follow these tips to help protect it from damage:

  • Remove as much loose boating gear onboard as possible, especially electronics and important documents. Any gear that will remain on your boat should be secured to help prevent it from clogging scuppers and deck drains.
  • Remove sails, dinghies, bridge enclosures and cockpit coverings (Eisen glass/Isinglass, dodgers) to help reduce wind damage.
  • Turn off and disconnect shore power cords, water supply hoses and propane or other gas valves.
  • Secure and lock all hatches and port holes. Check for leaks, and seal them as necessary.
  • If your boat’s mooring is exposed, explore alternative locations that may afford better protection and have a plan to allow for your boat to be relocated to the safer location in the case of an impending storm surge.
  • Avoid staying aboard your boat during a significant storm.
  • Check with your marina for any additional safety measures.

Create a written plan and checklist of the steps you intend to take when bad weather is in the forecast. Once you have created a written plan, take some time to test it and practice implementing the procedures you have developed.