Boats tossed together like matchsticks after a hurricane


Preparing your boat for a hurricane is just as important as preparing your home. The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) has important safety tips for boat owners as they prepare for the hurricane season. In addition to hurricanes, these tips can also be used for other coastal storms that could affect boat owners.

  • During the Hurricane Season, boaters should continually obtain the latest available weather forecast for your boating area from local and national weather services including NOAA Weather Radio
  • Make an inventory, preferably by video, of all valuable fixed items such as marine electronics on board your boat.
  • If possible, your boat should be removed from the water and secured away from potential storm surge before the hurricane hits. Make plans with your marina operator for removing your boat and understand the marina’s plans in advance of a hurricane.
  • If you are not able to remove your boat from the water, work with your marina or harbormaster to learn how to secure your boat. Double-up all dock lines and chains and make sure they are of sufficient length to compensate for excessive high water
  • Boat owners should assemble emergency equipment and supplies, as well as all of the necessary gear on board to properly tie down their vessel. 
  • Ensure your vessel is as watertight as possible. Use duct tape and plugs to seal hatches, ports, windows, doors and vents.
  • Remove all electronics, valuables and non-essential items. When a storm is forecast for your area, remove all detachable items from your boat, such as canvas, sails, cushions, fishing rigging, radios and antennas. Lash down everything that you cannot remove, including booms, tillers, wheels, etc.
  • Deflate your dinghy and store it and its outboard off the boat.
  • When you are through, help your neighbor.  It only takes one poorly tied boat in a marina to destroy an entire dock.
  • If your boat is on a trailer, lash it securely. Use tie-downs to anchor the trailer to the ground, let the air out of its tires and weigh down the frame.
  • Review your boat insurance policy to determine your coverage, liability and insurance company requirements.
  • Have your insurance policies, boat registration, a recent photograph and description of the vessel, gear inventory, marina or storage lease agreement and important telephone numbers (local harbormaster, U.S. Coast Guard, National Weather Service, insurance agent) in a secure place off of the boat.
  • Do not stay with your boat or try to ride out a storm on board. No matter how valuable your vessel is to you—both financially and sentimentally—it’s not worth your life.