Prepare Your Boat for a Hurricane

With sustained winds of 100 mph, Hurricane Irene is expected to strengthen as it approaches the U.S. mainland this weekend. Irene, already a Category 2, should avoid the southeastern states, but Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts are battening down the hatches for a storm that could hit as early as Saturday afternoon. The forecasts echo those of 2010, when Hurricane Earl arrived with similar predictions and departed with 50-knot winds. There’s no telling what Irene may bring, so owners throughout New England are scrambling to have their boats hauled and secured.

To haul or not to haul? If we did have the boat hauled, that would be it for a season that still had six or seven weeks of good sailing left in it. The worst of the winds were expected to be from the north and west, rather than the dangerous northeastern quadrant, so we decided to leave the boat in. I was as confident as I could be in the integrity of mooring and ground tackle, so my main concern was getting the boat as ready as possible for the coming onslaught. Here’s what we did.

1. If strong winds are expected it’s a good idea to cut down on windage. Step one was to clear all extraneous clutter from the deck and cockpit. Fishing rod and man-overboard gear went belowdecks; the outboard would come home with us.

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