Hurricanes, tropical storms, nor’easters, and coastal storms can bring storm surge, high winds, and heavy rainfall, which may cause damage to boats and coastal areas. Boat owners in Massachusetts need to prepare their boats for a storm to prevent damage to their vessels, as well as other boats and property. Preparing their boats for a storm can also help boat owners avoid legal liability for damages their boats may cause.

Before a Storm

  • Monitor the latest weather forecast for your boating area from local and national weather services.
  • As part of your emergency plan, decide what you will do with your boat in a storm including where and when you will move it.
  • Make a record of your personal property by taking photos or videos of your boat and all valuable items in and on your boat. Store these records in a safe place
  • Review the boat’s insurance policy to determine your coverage and liability.
  • Keep important paperwork in a secure place away from the boat. This can include insurance policies, boat registrations, a recent photograph and description of the vessel, gear inventory, marina or storage lease agreements, and important telephone numbers.
  • Discuss storm plans with your harbormaster or local marina to learn about procedures and resources before a storm approaches.

As a Storm Approaches

  • Boat owners should remove their vessels from the water before a storm, if possible. Move the boat away from areas that may have storm surge.
  • Boat owners who are unable to remove their vessels should contact the marina or harbormaster about securing their boats.
  • Double-up all dock lines and chains, and ensure they are long enough to compensate for elevated sea levels.
  • Make the vessel is as watertight as possible. Use duct tape and plugs to seal hatches, ports, windows, doors, and vents.
  • Remove all electronics, valuables, and other non-essential items. When a hurricane is forecast, remove detachable items such as canvas, sails, cushions, fishing rigging, radios, and antennae.
  • Lash down everything that can’t be removed, including booms, tillers, and wheels.
  • Deflate dinghies and store them (with their outboard motors) off of the boat.
  • Help other boaters secure their vessels. It only takes one poorly tied boat in a marina to destroy an entire dock.
  • If a boat is on a trailer, lash it securely. Use tie-downs to anchor the trailer to the ground, let the air out of the tires, and weigh down the frame.

Do not stay on your boat during a storm! The financial and sentimental value of the craft is not worth risking a life.