Most marinas will experience a storm event of some kind, at some time, with the potential to cause millions of dollars of damage in a short amount of time.
WHAT TO EXPECT DURING A STORM
The most common types of damage by a storm are:
- Boats hitting each other
- Mooring lines breaking
- High winds damaging covers and clears
- Sails becoming unfurled and tearing
- Unsecured property blowing away
- Broken windows
- Internal flooding
- Damage to electronics
- Damage to motors
Loose boats can also damage the marina, often resulting in major structural damage to piers and pontoons.
With the right preparation, boat owners can help minimise the damage, reducing unnecessary inconvenience and expense for themselves and marina operators.
PREPARE OR REPAIR
The choice is simply either to prepare, or repair. If a vessel sinks, it might be a total loss – this loss can be devastating for an owner, for financial and personal reasons. And repairs take time, which means time off the water instead of enjoying your boat. Also, there may be a cost to the owner for excess associated with the claim.
Assume the worst, prepare for the storm to hit your boat directly, and be prepared for it to arrive quicker than expected.
We recommend using this preparation checklist to help prepare for a major weather event – it’ll help you protect your pride and joy and minimise damage to other vessels.
SEVERE WEATHER EVENT PREPARATION CHECKLIST
- If a major storm is due to arrive on Wednesday, you can be almost certain that the weather will not be good on Monday and Tuesday
- Monitor the weather using services like the Club Marine App or Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) website
- Prepare as early as possible
- Expect heavy winds and rainfall both before and after the storm
- If it’s possible and you have time, relocate the vessel to a safer location
- Move the vessel from a swing mooring into a marina
Some lines have greater stretching ability than others – for example, the stretching qualities of nylon ropes can absorb some of the strain.
- Double the lines where possible
- Check the cleats and other tie-up points attached to the vessel and jetty
- Add chafe protection to protect against rubbing and line failure – these can be homemade and applied quickly using canvas, sail tape, garden hoses or old fire hoses.
- If you have extras, use them all. Any type of fender will help protect vessels from hitting the marina or other boats.
There is a balance between protecting against water ingress and reducing windage. In our experience, windage has the potential to cause the most damage by causing the vessel to yaw in the pen, resulting in massive impact damage and, in some cases, putting a hole in the hull and sinking the vessel.
- Remove covers and clears to reduce wind resistance
- Cockpits can be protected with custom-made storm covers
- Cockpits can also be protected by using shrink-wrap plastic and tape. Alternatively, use a piece of canvas and tape it down as tightly as possible.
DINGHIES & TENDERS
- Apply secondary tie-downs if secured on deck
- If practical, deflate and stow in the vessel or other location
- Where possible, remove all electronics
- Cover fixed electronics with shrink wrap and tape
- Where possible, remove aerials and antennas
Power surges can cause damage to electrical components.
- Fully charge the batteries – they will be needed to run the bilge pumps
- Disconnect from shore power
One of the simplest things to protect against is loss of items and damage caused by flying debris during a storm. Unsecured items on boats have the potential to cause damage to your vessel and others around them.
- Remove and pack away cushions on the flybridge, deck, sunpads and anywhere else
- Remove and pack away outdoor furniture
- Clear decks of any loose items, such as buckets, fishing-tackle boxes etc
In most severe storms, there will be a power blackout. Got a fridge or freezer onboard? Perishable goods can leak into the vessel, damaging carpets and furniture and leaving stains and smells that will linger.
- Remove perishable goods from fridges and freezers – don’t forget the bait freezer
- Lock or tape closed these compartments once they’re empty
Even rolled up, sails add to windage and are very likely to unfurl in a storm. If a sail gets loose, it will at the very least flap itself to death, while placing additional drag on the vessel and straining the lines holding the vessel to the marina.
- Tape windows and hatches using duct tape or shrink-wrapping tape
- Close all seacocks (especially the head seacocks)
- Leave the cockpit drain valves open
- Make sure all cockpit drains, gutters and scuppers are clean and unblocked.
AFTER THE STORM
SEVERE WEATHER WARNINGS STRAIGHT TO YOUR PHONE AND EMAIL
- Provide assistance to patch holes using tarps, shrink wrap and tape to prevent further water ingress through damaged hulls, broken windows etc
- Remove any water from the vessel ASAP. Dry using fans, dehumidifiers, open hatches (once rain has stopped) and moisture-absorbing products to avoid mould
- Check mooring and berthing lines and cleats for damage. Replace or repair if necessary to avoid breakages later on
- Be vigilant for fraudulent assessors and repairers. Do not make any upfront payment of excess without speaking to your insurer first
- Have an alternate contact person if you are going to be interstate or overseas during a storm.
Club Marine members can receive Severe Weather Alerts automatically through the Club Marine App – download it for free here.
We also send Severe Weather Alerts by email to members who have provided a valid email address. Want to receive alerts for your boat’s location by email? Update your records online here
or call us on 1300 00 CLUB (2582).
Club Marine is available 24/7 for emergency assistance – just call us on 1300 00 CLUB (2582) in Australia, 0800 11 CLUB (2582) in New Zealand, or +61 3 9224 3037 from overseas (standard call costs apply).