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Hurricane Storage and Refuge – What to do.

September 12th, 2017 | Posted in General, Power Blog, Sailing Blog

The Atlantic Basin is experiencing an active hurricane season in 2017 with the presence of devastating  hurricanes Harvey and Irma while Jose currently lingers offshore of the United States. Preparedness is essential as a yacht owner, captain or crew at the start of hurricane season and with the impending landfall of a storm.  Your decisions can have a tremendous impact on the outcome condition of your yacht or boat. We have experienced many hurricanes on the coast of North Carolina and gained an immense amount of knowledge in how to best handle a sizable Tropical Storm or Hurricane before, during and after in our 31 years of operation. Our team has compiled a few recommendations they find essential in protecting your boat through these extreme storms.

 

Nearly every boat owner with an asset worth protecting maintains appropriate insurance coverage throughout the vessel ownership. Protecting your equipment is a smart move and knowing the limits of your policy is an even smarter move. Many policies have geographical hurricane exclusion zones in which your vessel is not covered should you travel to those areas and get caught in a hurricane, tropical storm, or named wind storm. It is imperative that you understand where you can operate your vessel and maintain coverage; your agent should be able to provide you with this information if you are unsure from reading your policy. (Read your policy carefully!) North Carolina is often a safe or refuge zone recognized by insurance companies for our high latitude and opportunity for hurricane shelter. Bennett Brothers Yachts’ high bluff yard and upriver location have served the yachting community for many years as a “hurricane hole” for dockage and hauling. Protecting your monetary equity in your vessel is only half of the picture; ensure you maintain appropriate liability coverage in addition to any hull coverage you carry. Liability coverage is essential should your vessel break free and damage other vessels in a marina or on the hard. Most reputable marinas and boatyards will require this before accepting you into any program or offering any service. Also consider uninsured boater coverage, discuss all of the facets of risk when deciding what policy is best for you.

 

Make a plan. Your plan shouldn’t begin at the first threat of a storm. Determine where you will be using your boat during hurricane season and create a flowchart of options should a storm threaten. Contact (ahead of the season!) any of your options and find out their hurricane program, costs and availability. Many boatyards and marinas open their hurricane shelter refuge programs at the start of the year, with prepaid services or free lists to be included on. Find out as much information as possible on the front

end and put yourself in a position of options should a storm threaten. Determine if a haulout is in your best interest or if remaining in water will suit your refuge needs.  If you receive a call with an offer for shelter and you are comfortable with the protection offered, SAY YES. You may not receive another call or you may not be able to find any other space whether in water or on the hard, and when supply falls well below demand you may miss an opportunity you might not see again. Anticipate paying higher rates during these times and budget accordingly prior to hurricane season. Boatyard and marina staff often times work overtime and outside of regular business hours to accommodate the rapid influx of vessels at these times. Revisit that insurance policy again and see if certain hurricane preparation costs are reimbursed by your carrier – you might be surprised at their interest in protecting your asset!

 

As the time to tie up or block your boat happens you should anticipate a few things. Electricity will often be cut off and you should prepare for your boat to have no power. Ensure your batteries are fully charged to keep pumps operational. Clean out your fridge and freezer and conserve power for only essential items like bilge pumps. Excessive amounts of rainwater will accumulate in your bilge and keeping the pumps running will keep your waterline on par. Double up your lines and put out extra fenders. Tie your lines in anticipation of possible storm surge.  When adding fenders consider adding to the side of your boat that neighbors another boat, should their lines break free this will offer some protection as their boat approaches yours. Remove ANY AND ALL canvas, sails and loose items that may become projectiles as they are picked up by high winds. Lock or tie off any sailboat wheels or tillers to prevent rudders from slamming back and forth during boat movement or wind shifts. Extra consideration should be made for unique boats like those that are lightweight and made of unusual materials or shapes. Close all seacocks and make sure you prepare your vessel as prudently as possible. Make sure your marina or boatyard has easy access to your vessel via key or codes should they need access on board at any time.

 

After a storm do not approach your vessel until marina or boatyard staff has said it is safe to do so. The integrity of docks or boat stands could be compromised during a storm and your life and safety isn’t worth checking on your boat. Be sure to connect with your hurricane storage locations digital footprint on social media channels like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Early reports are often posted on these platforms for their easy access. Make sure you “whitelist” the email addresses coming from your storage facility so you don’t miss any updates.

 

As a storm passes and the skies clear your preparations will pay off, hopefully with your vessel escaping unscathed.  In any event, we are here to help. Be sure to fill out our hurricane haulout application at the start of each year as part of your hurricane plan. We will always do our best to accommodate as many vessels as possible during a storm or hurricane situation. As boat owners ourselves, we know the anticipation and anxiety a storm brings and we will always strive to provide the utmost in customer service to those that contact us.