Stormy weather is not unusual for the winter months in the UK. However, it seems we are seeing more severe storms1, with extreme weather predicted to hit the UK more frequently2 and climate scientists warning we should be prepared for more intense storms.3 For boat owners across all vessel types and sizes, this is a stark warning, which shouldn’t be ignored, considering the damage stormy weather can cause. So what can you do as a boat owner to protect your beloved vessel from the elements?
Tips to protect your boat from storm damage
You may have already laid up your boat for winter, and carried out some of the essential preparations for keeping your boat safe during unpredictable weather conditions. When storm warnings roll in, there are extra precautions you can take to help keep your boat safe and secure. We’ve compiled some tips to help reduce the risk of damage to your vessel, and hopefully the need to make a claim:
Your boat may already be stored ashore in a cradle, if so, check when the cradle was last surveyed, and what condition was reported. Speak to your boatyard to find the safest and most protected areas of the yard, and what their protocols are for when a storm hits.
If your vessel is in a marina, rather than on a swinging or trot mooring, it should be less vulnerable and more protected from the worst conditions. Marina staff will usually monitor boats and keep a watchful eye on any potential problems arising from dramatic weather changes, but it’s important to know if they have a plan of action for when a storm is due. Especially, if you don’t live near your boat and require the help of others.
If given enough notice ahead of a storm, move your boat to a safer mooring or marina, if your boat is in a vulnerable location.
You may have already removed your sails, dodgers and canopies for winter storage, but if not, it’s important to take them off to reduce windage ahead of stormy conditions, whether your boat is ashore, in a marina or on a mooring. If your boat is under a winter cover, make sure it’s as tight fitting as possible. Essentially, remove anything that the wind can get hold off, as this will help reduce the load on the things keeping your boat safe, whether it’s a cradle or mooring lines.
Make sure you use a strong, thick mooring line, and tie it to as many points as you can – this is your boat’s lifeline during a storm. It’s important to protect your lines where they run through fairleads or over a toerail – anywhere they might rub, reinforce with chafe guards and protectors. Also, take care to tie up your fenders, using as many as you can to protect your boat.
Remove personal belongings and take as much valuable kit as you can home, so that if the worst does happen, you’ve helped reduce your loss. Close and lock all hatches, portholes and windows, shutting all seacocks, except the cockpit drain seacocks, which must be left open.4
As boat enthusiasts, we know how much your vessel means to you, but don’t be tempted to stay aboard and ride out a storm. Prepare your vessel as best as you can, take photos above and below deck to record your preparations and inventory of kit, then leave her fate up to “Mother Nature”. If the worst happens you will have your log of actions and kit, to discuss with your insurance provider.
We don’t have foresight of exactly when and where the next storm will hit, but we can be prepared in knowing how best to protect our boats against stormy conditions. Having the right boat insurance policy in place, can also help provide peace of mind and reassurance that if the worst does happen, you will have the advice and support of specialists to guide you through the claims process. Make sure your boat is adequately protected for the unsettled weather conditions winter brings, by speaking to our boat insurance specialists today on 0800 783 8057.