It seems kind of early, but “Hurricane Season” officially began on June 1 according to the National Hurricane Center. The World Meteorological Organization has six lists consisting of 21 names that it reuses after cycling through them all. This year’s list begins with Andrea and ends with Wendy, and the names Florence and Michael were retired due to the destruction seen by those named storms in 2018. It is common practice to retire names in years following large, destructive storms, and in 2018 the names Harvey, Irma, Maria and Nate were retired.
But this is not an Editor’s Log about hurricane names, it is instead intended to provide boaters with some solid advice in preparing for the inevitable. The list comes courtesy of Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS), and it includes both commonsensical as well as not-so-obvious tips.
- Get your boat out of the water. The number 1 way to reduce the potential for boat damage is to remove it from the water and store ashore on the highest ground possible. If you own a boat trailer, ensure it’s ready to go at a moment’s notice. If you don’t trailer, ask your marina to be put on a priority list for storm haulouts, sometimes referred to as “hurricane clubs.” Ensure your boat’s insurance policy will help to pay for the haulout so it’s an easy decision to make. The BoatUS Marine Insurance Program pays 50 percent of the cost of labor, up to $1,000, to have the boat hauled or moved to the safety of a hurricane hole, and the haulout does not penalize the policyholder. Once ashore, removing windage, such as Biminis and sail furlers, and anchoring the boat to the ground with strapping has proven to reduce damage from high winds.
- If you’re not going to haul, make your in-water plan now. Some marinas, such as those that offer protection and have tall pilings with floating docks fare better than marinas with low seawalls and fixed docks or floating docks with short pilings. Use the free BoatUS hurricane planning guides at BoatUS.com/Hurricanes to learn how to protect your boat in a slip, canal, or protected hurricane hole. Get supplies now, such as extra dock lines and chafe protection, and have them ready to go in an easy-to-find location. Another lesson learned from the BoatUS Catastrophe Team (CAT Team): Don’t leave your boat in a boat lift.
- Download the free BoatUS App and sign up for storm alerts. You’ll be notified of any storms potentially headed your way and updated on the storm’s track and intensity.
- Have a good insurance backstop for when all else fails. Your last line of hurricane defense is your boat’s insurance policy. Ensure that it includes full salvage coverage that is equal to the policy’s hull coverage. Lesser policies limit salvage coverage to either a small percentage of the boat’s insured hull value, perhaps just 5% to 10%, or may subtract salvage costs from the insured value of the boat, reducing the funds available to repair the boat or the amount paid if the boat’s declared a total loss. Additionally, be aware of boat insurance named storm deductibles. In the eventuality there ever is a storm claim, some insurers may lower the deductible and reward boat owners who show that they have taken additional measures to prepare for the storm, such as hauling, lashing down, removing windage or other protective measures.