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Preparing Your Boat For Hurricanes

Diagram of a boat tied in a canal before a storm
The safest port in a storm for large boats is in a canal or creek with the boat tied in a
spiderweb of lines led to pilings or trees ashore. Hills or other features can help break
the wind. Courtesy of: catamarans.com

Hurricane season in Florida runs from June to November with an average of 2 storms per year making landfall in the Sunshine State. Preparing your boat for storm season takes preparation to ensure your boats safety.

If you are a seasonal resident your boat must be secured before you head up north for the summer months. For those year round residents that use their boats regularly, preparing for a hurricane is usually done only days in advance of the storm. Securing space at a marina is not an option at the last minute, space must be arranged well in advance.

If a storm is imminent but not making landfall in your area, preparing may only mean adding more lines to your boat or tying your boat to it's lift and pilings. If a hurricane is coming your way, you must take more advanced precautions to ensure your boats safety.

Smaller boats that have trailers should be removed from the water and the trailer/boat parked in a safe place. Larger boats must be reinforced in their moorings or moved to a secluded channel or canal.

diagram of different types of mooring setups

Boat in a boat house tied for a hurricaneHurricane Guides & Videos

We decided to offer our readers helpful guides and videos instead of recreating the excellent resources already available.

icon of pdf document BoatUS Boaters Hurricane Guide

icon of pdf document Hurricane Preparedness for Your Boat

icon of pdf document Preparing for Hurricanes

The boat in the picture to the left is located on an open bay in Naples. The boat was tied solidly to it's dock pilings and survived the 150 mile winds of Hurricane Wilma in 2005. It is advised to never leave your boat on a lift at a dock because if there was a storm surge the boat could be forced through the roof or if no roof take the whole dock and boat out. The boat can also fill with water and the lift could give out from all the weight. This boat was lucky, the hurricane did bring tides high enough to cover the dock but the water never surged,. This picture was taken at high tide the day after the storm.

Boats sunk during hurricane wilma, boat in foreground is on its side mostly sunk, another behind it is tipped to the side ready to sink and it's hugeWhat Happens if You Don't Take Precautions to Secure Your Boat?

150 boats salvaged in 90 days after Hurricane Wilma in the Keys. Sorry about the loud music in this video but it's amazing to watch the cleanup.

Don't let this happen to your boat!

Photo taken at Pelican Bend Marina which was full of overturned, sunk boats after Hurricane Wilma in Naples 2005.

Check out more storm pictures after Wilma on our Facebook Album.

Hurricane Preparation for Everyone

checklist drawingAlong with getting your boat prepared for a hurricane you must also make plans for your families personal safety. Here are two good documents to help you make your plans.

icon of pdf document Hurricane Safety Checklist

icon of pdf document Emergency Supplies Checklist


This is a great educational video on selecting and using a generator if you are considering one for your home or boat.


Florida fish and wildlife logoA Message from Florida Fish & Wildlife

August 24, 2012

FWC urges boat owners to secure their vessels before storm hits

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) advises boat owners to secure their boats properly in advance of possible sustained heavy winds from Tropical Storm Isaac.

Vessels that break free can cause problems to waterways by causing fuel and oil pollution; drifting into bridges, docks, seawalls and piers; and interfering with navigation. In addition, the boats themselves can sustain damage.

“Now is the time to properly secure your vessel to make sure it doesn’t break free and cause damage to property or result in people getting injured,” said Capt. Tom Shipp with the FWC’s Boating and Waterways Section.

If boat owners trailer their boats, the FWC recommends they secure their vessels in a safe location, let some air out of the trailer tires, block the wheels and, if possible, anchor the boat down and/or add weight to help keep the boat in place.

Florida has laws that relate to abandoned vessels. The state is often overwhelmed with lost, abandoned and damaged vessels following significant weather events.

Residents are encouraged to call their local law enforcement agencies or the FWC at 888-404-3922 to report vessels that have broken free.

The FWC’s Division of Law Enforcement and other law enforcement agencies are often tasked with helping people who intentionally put themselves at risk, such as personal watercraft operators who view the high waves created by a storm as an opportunity to jump waves.

“Thrill-seekers are advised to avoid the waters and high winds created from the storm,” Shipp said. “Please keep in mind that when people choose to act irresponsibly, they jeopardize others. They cause law enforcement officers, rescue workers and other emergency personnel to risk their lives unnecessarily.”

Tropical storms and hurricanes are unpredictable. All boaters are urged to keep up to date on the path of this storm and take the appropriate actions. To find out more about properly mooring vessels, reporting debris and for other useful information, go to MyFWC.com/Boating, click on “Safety & Education” and select “Hurricane.” Report damaged markers by calling 866-405-BUOY (866-405-2869).

DISCLAIMER: This information is provided as a guide for Florida fishing, diving & boating and is not conclusive. This information is provided only as a courtesy and there are NO guaranties, warranties, express or implied, or representations as to the accuracy of this content. Florida Go Fishing assumes NO liability or responsibility for any errors or omissions in the information contained here. If you find an error or omission in the data, please feel free to contact us with the correct information and we will verify the error or omission and correct it as soon as possible.