Afternoons on the water don’t always come with perfect weather, especially when you get later into the boating season. Storms can ruin your best-laid plans, but they can also put your boat and passengers in danger. Knowing how to prepare your boat for storm season is important to making it back to the marina or boat ramp without significant issues.
Whether preparing for cooler temperatures or staying informed on developing thunderstorms, there are a few essential points that all boaters should consider when learning how to prepare your boat for storm season.
These tips will help you keep your boat and passengers safe when the weather takes a turn for the worse:
Move Your Boat to a Safe, Covered Location
If you know a big storm is coming, your best bet is to trailer your boat and move it to a safer location. Before doing so, ensure your trailer and trailering supplies are in good condition, especially if your boat has been moored for most of the season.
Your trailer brakes, tires, winch, tongue jack, guides, rollers, and hitch accessories should all be inspected annually. If you haven’t maintained your boat trailer regularly, you risk damaging your boat and tow vehicle when moving your boat to a safe, covered location.
Protect Your Boat if It’s Docked
You may also be preparing for what you believe will be a minor storm. In this case, you may decide to leave your boat moored to a dock or buoy. You should take some additional steps to protect your boat from smashing against the dock or, in the worst case, breaking away from its mooring entirely.
- Install storm fenders or dock bumpers to keep your boat from rubbing or hitting against the dock or pier.
- Utilize mooring whips to secure your boat further from the dock or pier to limit the chances of rubbing or impacts.
- Check the security of dock cleats to ensure your boat is tied to several secure points. Inspect dock lines and mooring snubbers for cuts or fraying that signal they should be replaced.
- Remove or secure bimini tops to prevent damage due to high winds.
If your dock features a boat lift, this is also a great way to get your boat out of the water to protect it from strong waves or currents during a storm.
Check the Condition of Your Boat Cover
Whether you store your boat in the water, on a lift, or on your boat trailer, you should cover it before the storm rolls in. Before you throw your cover on and walk away, check for rips, tears, or damage that suggests it might be time to replace your boat cover.
When installing your cover before a storm, it’s essential that it’s secured properly. Take the extra time to tighten bungee cords and secure straps, depending on the design of your cover. If you need a more weather-resistant cover, find a model that comes with a tie-down kit featuring additional straps to help you keep your cover in place when it gets really windy.
Additionally, if the storm that just rolled through comes with a lot of precipitation, check your boat cover as soon as it’s safe to remove any water that has pooled on top of the cover. Pooled water puts extra strain on boat covers that can eventually cause them to tear. You can also install a boat cover support that helps shed water and prevent pooling.
Monitor the Weather Early and Often
The reality is that you can still enjoy beautiful days on the water during storm season. But you will need to be more prepared in case the weather takes an unexpected turn. Your best bet is to utilize technology to your advantage and check weather broadcasts before and throughout your boating day.
Checking the forecast the night before is important to help you pack and prepare for your trip. But don’t forget to check first thing in the morning again. The weather outlook can sometimes change dramatically overnight, especially during storm season.
To monitor weather broadcasts, you can utilize a handheld VHF marine radio, install a new marine stereo with AM/FM capability, or add a marine radar to your boat. You’ll still need to find the right frequencies in your region to tune into weather reports and emergency updates, but any of these additions will help you stay ahead of impending weather shifts.
Maintain Emergency Boat Supplies
An old saying goes, “It’s not a matter of IF something will go wrong, but it’s more a question of WHEN it will happen.” While we don’t want to be too negative, the takeaway is that advance preparation is critical to your safety and the safety of your passengers when the unexpected occurs.
If you’ll be boating throughout the storm season, ensure your boat is equipped with the right emergency supplies. Also, check that those emergency supplies aren’t expired, such as fire extinguishers, first aid kits, and signal devices like emergency flares.
Here are a few tips on how to prepare your boat for storm season by maintaining emergency boat supplies:
- Ensure your boat is always equipped with the correct number of life jackets for the number of passengers onboard.
- Check the condition of emergency throw cushions and other throwable rescue gear.
- Ensure your boat’s lettering and registration numbers are updated and clearly displayed.
- Make sure you have an emergency paddle and telescoping boat hook onboard.
Make a Plan for Backup Power
Ensuring your boat’s battery is fully charged before each trip is a great first step, but having a backup plan is never a bad idea when considering how to prepare your boat for storm season.
You can accomplish this in a variety of ways:
- Inspect your boat’s onboard charger and inverter to ensure it’s facilitating a proper charge when your engine is running.
- Add a solar charger to your boat’s inventory to trickle charge your battery when you’re relaxing in the sun with the engine off.
- Bring a portable charger onboard to keep phones, radios, and other small electronics charged.
- For larger boats, find a place to store a portable outdoor generator (and the appropriate fuel) for a reliable backup power source.
Storing fuel for a generator on your boat should be done carefully. Ensure it’s stored in an appropriate container and secured where there is no likelihood of spills or leaks.
Additional Tips on How to Prepare Your Boat for Storm Season
Depending on your location and the severity of the storm season there, here are a few more tips on how to prepare your boat for storm season:
- Understand your liabilities and responsibilities. If your boat is stored in a marina, contact management to understand what they cover and what you’re responsible for. You should also ensure you understand exactly what your boat insurance covers in the event of damage or loss.
- Create a boat inventory. Document everything that you have stored on your boat before the storm hits. Video or photographic evidence is really important if you have to file an insurance claim.
- Secure important documentation. Make sure your boat registration, title, insurance policies, inventory, and marina lease agreement (if applicable) are stored safely and securely. It doesn’t hurt to have copies of these documents stored in a waterproof container onboard and in a fireproof box somewhere at home.
- Know who to call in an emergency. Keep a list of key contacts such as your local Coast Guard station, marina management, emergency towing providers (both on and off the water), and your insurance agent.
The more you know how to prepare your boat for storm season, the more you can avoid stress and the possibility of financial damage when a storm does hit.
If you’re in the market for a new boat, check out the complete line of Nepallo Pontoon Boats from Forest River!
Do you have any additional tips on how to prepare your boat for storm season? Share them in the comments below!