Mooring your vessel is a process that requires much fore thought
and preparation. It is not something that can wait until the last
minute. As a storm approaches mandatory evacuations maybe ordered
and roads close so you may or may not have access to your marina.
Also there is a time factor to consider as to when you actually
start securing your boat. When the wind is above 20 knots you are
going to have a very rough time getting sails and canvas off the
boat. So if in doubt prepare.
You must have a plan and have the necessary supplies to do the job
well in advance.
And please do not even think about being one of those who are going
to "ride it out" on board. In 100 mile per hour wind you
are a liability not an asset. Some one else will have to risk their
life to come save you.
are things to do before a storm and when one is predicted to come
our way. Here are some items, which may help.
Look around the Marina and think about what it would look like with
4 to 6 feet of water above the docks. And prepare for that. Remember
once water is over the docks it is too late to secure the boat plus
it is very dangerous.
Check the dock.
2. Look for loose or broken cleats.
3. If you are in a fixed slip and have Risers for the mooring lines
to connect, inspect for wear and signs of corrosion, if any signs
of weakness report this to your Harbor Master immediately.
4. Check your Dock area for what maybe loose or flyable debris.
5. Either remove or tie down loose gear
6. Check the operation of Automatic Bilge pump
7. Make sure bilges are clean and free of debris or anything that
could clog bilge pump of filters.
8. Check that your Dock locker has drain holes and that they are
not clogged. Dock boxes that can float and are bolted down to the
dock can make boards come loose creating very dangerous situations.
Have a Storm Kit on Board with a plan on exactly how and what you
are going to do. Talk to your neighbors about their storm plans.
It does little good to have your boat all secure and other boats
in the marina are not secure.
9. Make sure you have all the lines and chafe gear to secure your
boat before its necessary. Storm kits should include a complete
extra set of dock lines, and some extra lines with plenty of length
for spring lines. A fresh roll of Duct tape, Plastic wire ties are
handy for binding bimini railing together and helping secure chafe
gear so it stays in place. You should have a boat hook for helping
attach lines to pilings.
is a great idea to take a day and secure your boat as if there was
a storm to:
1. Make sure you have all the necessary items to secure the vessel.
2. Give yourself a realistic idea just how long this job will take.
At the last minute, line and fenders may be hard to find and a waste
of time you may not have.
Storm is headed our Way
Remove Roller Furling Sails and all Canvas
b. Hatch covers.
all Loose Halyards
a. It is best to connect halyards to stanchion bases and not to
b. During high winds the halyards will beat themselves and the
mast to death.
Remove Cowl Vents and ventilators and seal openings.
Secure Bimini Frames so they do not chafe on rigging or on Fiberglass.
a. This is a good place to use some carpet scraps, duct tape or
b. Make sure you do not over look the obvious things such as straps
and buckles on the Bimini Frames that might whip around in high
Mainsails on non-furling rigs should be removed from booms.
a. If this is not possible leave the sail cover in place and securely
wrap the sail and cover with a lot of rope so wind cannot get
It is best to remove the boom and put below or secure on the side
deck. But on many boats this is not a practical solution so if
the boom cannot be removed, securely tie a sturdy line around
the boom end and then to either side of the boat. This is done
to prevent the boom from swinging side to side which it can do
in high winds even if the mainsheet if very tight.
Remove Important Gear from Boat
a. Special Electronics such as hand held VHF Radios, GPS'S and
other uncounted equipment.
b. Remove Bracket mounted equipment such as GPS, Radar Screens,
Sonar's and anything someone might steal.
c. Flush mounted Electronics should stay in place with their covers
1. Secure the covers with Duct Tape so they will not blow away.
2. The covers, if in place may help if there is flying debris.
Close all Thru Hulls fittings.
Make yourself a note and tape it over the Instrument Panel that
thru hulls are closed so when you come back to the boat you will
not forget and run your engine with the engine cooling water shut
Empty Refrigerators and turn it off.
Do not leave anything on, that may draw the batteries down.
a. They may be needed to run the bilge pump.
Disconnect Shore power and stow power cords.
a. Do not leave cords on the dock.
b. If water comes over the dock the power will probably fail.
If you, or harbor staff are checking the docks it is not good
to be wadding in knee deep or deeper water and get tripped up
by loose lines or shore power cords. More than likely at some
point the Marina will shut down the power anyway. Disconnecting
the shore power will help protect the vessel from power surges
when power is restored.
Either remove or store all loose gear inside boat.
Secure all doors inside.
Remove owner's manuals, Service Manuals, Warranty information.
Make a list of gear on board with model and serial numbers.
You may need information for insurance purposes later.
b. It is a good idea to take pictures of the boat inside and out.
Make sure the cockpit drains are clear and open and will drain
with out any obstructions.
a. Do not leave loose gear or lines, or rags or anything that
can clog cockpit drains.
Chafe protection is essential on all lines.
a. Avoid running lines over rub rails or other hard points as
this will add to chafe
b. Use leather wrapping secured around lines at the chafe points.
This requires lots of fore thought and knowing that your docking
location will not change.
c. Old Fire hose. Many books rave about this but this might be
difficult to obtain.
d. Use plastic hose over the lines. This works quite will. The
best use of this is a hose inside of a hose with the line inside
a hose. Only issue is the amount of line and chafe gear you can
squeeze into a mooring bit.
e. Carpet scraps. Depending upon the boat and the line angle a
piece of indoor/outdoor carpet with a slice cut in so a cleat
will just fit over thru the hole. This will help protect bare
gel-coat from line chafe. One word of caution. Be careful picking
up dirty carpet as you could in effect be trying to protect your
boats finish with Sandpaper.
f. Special made chafe gear. I recently was told about a system
a live-aboard couple had developed. They took web straps approximately
3 inches wide and had Velcro sewn on opposite sides of the webbing.
This strap was wrapped around a line and Velcro'd together. These
straps were 18 to 36 inches longs. They used them when anchoring
or tying up in a storm.
Do not tie up boat to lifeline stanchions, the bases are better
anchored and have less leverage but best not to use stanchion
bases if it can be avoided.
On sail boats with a Keel stepped mast, lines could be tied around
the mast just above the deck. This is one of the strongest points
on the boat.
On a deck stepped mast this technique should probably not be used
except for a line of last resort.
The important thing to remember is the boat must be able to rise
6 to eight feet.
In practical terms it is difficult to tie up in a fixed slip for
tides greater than 8 feet unless they are big slips.
Floating Docks offer the best protection but some cautions should
be observed here also. Do not tie too many lines on the same cleat
on the dock and check the condition of the cleats and the decks
they are secured.
Docking in cover sheds offers another set of problems. As the
water level rises you must keep in mind things like radar and
light towers. If possible these should be lowered and securely
fastened to the dock. If a severe storm surge is predicted it
would be best to move boat out of cover shed. Other dangers here
are falling roof debris.
USE THE INTERNET TO FIND OUT MORE ON STORM PREPARATION, such as
TYING YOUR BOAT
Each Mooring situation is different as are the boats being secured.
securing your boat to a floating dock generally the below illustration
will be of help.
securing your boat to a fixed dock generally the below illustration
will be of help.
NOTE: IT IS IMPORTANT TO UNDERSTAND THAT NOT ALL TIDE RISERS ARE
STRUCTURALLY DESIGNED TO WITHSTAND LOADS FROM BOATS IN HIGH WINDS,
AND MAY SEPARATE FROM THE PILING UNDER STRONG WIND LOAD. ALWAYS
ASK YOUR MARINA WHAT TO SECURE THE LINES TO