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Make arrangements now. Here are your options:

... A garage or a storage building inland.
... A "hurricane hole" - a small protected body of water,
such as one of the small coves naturally protected
by trees and vegetation.
... A well-protected marina or dock. By law,
marinas cannot kick your boat out after a hurricane watch
or warning is issued. But they can dictate the kind of cleats,
ropes or other measures you use.


Once you have selected an inland refuge, make a practice run to make sure the water is deep enough and bridges - fixed, draw, high and low - work for your boat. Tides may be higher before the storm.

Many banks along waterways are private property. Get permission, preferably in writing, to protect both parties.

Check the condition of cleats and dock pilings. If you will be securing your lines to a tree, look for one with a good root system.

Set the bilge pump on automatic. Check drains. If you don't have an automatic switch for your bilge pump, get one.

If you plan to weigh down your small boat with water on shore, check with the manufacturer to make sure this will not damage it or the trailer.


If you're taking the boat out of the area, leave well before the storm - perhaps two or three days in advance and no later than when the watch is issued.

Once an evacuation is under way, emergency managers may limit bridge openings to speed up evacuation of barrier islands. At some point, emergency officials will make the call to lock down bridges for their protection; you may not get much warning.

Don't anchor or tie up anywhere near a floodgate. When the gate opens to allow water out, your boat will be crushed or sunk.

Use lines on both sides. Use double bow and stern lines. Use spring lines fore and aft.

Don't tie up too close to the sea wall. Take into account the water level could rise 10 feet to 20 feet above normal.

Sink ground anchors on each bank - two for the stern, two for the bow. Set them so the lines form an X. Wrap the line several times around cleats or pilings before tying off on the ground anchor.

Try to install fenders or even tires. Black marks are better than a hole in your boat.

Leave just enough fuel in your boat to get it back to its normal berth after the storm; the extra fuel could catch fire or spill and pollute waterways.

Set the bilge pump on automatic. Check drains. If you don't have an automatic switch for your bilge pump, get one.

Disconnect shore power to your boat and close all intake valves below the water line. Seal hatches, ports, windows, doors and vents with duct tape.

Remove tops, sails and exterior canvas and all electronic and other valuable equipment, as well as insurance papers and other important documents.

Don't stay in your boat, no matter how secure you feel it is.


Remove outboard engine if possible. Partially fill boat with water to weigh it down, within limits set by the manufacturer.

Pick a site away from trees and power lines.

Do not park between buildings, where wind tunnels can develop.

Remove electrical equipment.

Use wooden blocks at the trailer's wheels. Deflate the tires.

Tie the boat and the trailer down to something secure. Ground anchors are best and can be purchased if there is time.

If you don't have a trailer, fill the boat with water and tie it to the most secure thing you can find in your yard.

If the boat is very small, turn it upside down and lash it to the ground.

Go to the Emergency Preparedness Information page, on to What's New and More Tips, or back to How Much Is Too Much?