Get Ready for ‘Cane Season

Planes were meant for flying, boats were meant for sailing.  Unfortunately, hurricane season is the time of year when we’re most likely to see a boat fly.  Here are a few tips to batten down the hatches and to keep your boat safe.

 Most folks scramble for boats when they should be scrambling for insurance  policies.  Some policies specifically dictate what damages they will  cover while others require some form of boat relocation (meaning hauling  it to higher ground).

Check with your marina to see what they will cover should a dock finger wind up  on your boat.  And if they require that all boats are hauled.

If your boat is on a trailer, make sure self-bailing plugs drain  properly.  Some boaters I know do  the opposite; they drop their trailer tire pressure to about 20 pounds and  partially FILL their boat with water.  They maintain the weight keeps it from being lifted off the ground.

Decide sooner rather than later.  If you’re worried, haul your boat and if it’s big enough, hire a crane to pull it.  If the storm misses you, your boat is safe.  If the storm hits you, your boat is safe.  You win either way, but be sure to do it sooner rather than later.  There are old captains, there are bold captains, but there are no old, bold captains.

Coastlines get pounded during storms, so if you can’t haul your boat, then sail it to a protected cove or up a river. Obviously this cruise should be done well in advance of the storm, and pick a waterway that allows for as much of an inland mooring as possible.

Once there, anchor your boat with no fewer than four anchors, with each one set in the direction of the wind.  Make sure one is a storm anchor.

If you have time, add a backing plate to cleats so they don’t get pulled out by the strong winds. To prevent an anchor line from fraying and breaking, cover the wear points with chafe gear.  Take a piece of a garden hose, cut it lengthwise, and slide it over the line.  Place it in all points where the line rubs against the boat, and duct tape it closed.  Leave the bilge pump on and shut all fuel tanks off.

Consider moving your boat out of the water. Higher-than-normal tides combined with winds can toss dock fingers on top of boats.  Remove all paperwork, registration, and electronics.  Remove all gear.  Chairs, outriggers, sails, everything that isn’t attached.

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Tom Keer

Tom Keer

Tom Keer is an award-winning writer who lives on Cape Cod, Massachusetts.  He is a columnist for the Upland Almanac, a Contributing Writer for Covey Rise magazine, a Contributing Editor for both Fly Rod and Reel and Fly Fish America, and a blogger for the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation’s Take Me Fishing program.  Keer writes regularly for over a dozen outdoor magazines on topics related to fishing, hunting, boating, and other outdoor pursuits.  When they are not fishing, Keer and his family hunt upland birds over their three English setters.  His first book, a Fly Fishers Guide to the New England Coast was released in January 2011.  Visit him at or at