When you’re prepping your boat for a hurricane, there’s a lot of stuff that needs to come below deck to reduce windage. I’ve talked before about all the stuff that needs to be stowed (read here), as well as removing sails (read here), but the next question is where to put them.
Well, every boat is different so I can’t say exactly where to store things. But we learned two very important things NOT to do in our first two hurricane preps.
GET STUFF OUT FIRST
If you have lockers under or behind settees, don’t pile the settees full before getting anything you might need out of those lockers. Say, spare line, canned food, toilet paper . . .
Yep, there we were, still living on the boat as we prepped it for the coming hurricane and I had to move everything we’d just stashed in order to get to food for dinner.
So that was my lesson with what I call our “practice storm” that fizzled from a hurricane to a tropical storm before passing near us.
THE WRONG WAY TO STOW GEAR
A few weeks later, Hurricane Marty passed directly overhead as a Category 1 storm. We were in a very protected hurricane hole, about a mile in diameter, yet we still had 4-foot waves rolling through and gusts in the mid-80’s.
Here’s a picture I took of the boat next to us. Between the waves and the wind, we were rolling gunwale to gunwale.
This time around, I was smart — or so I thought — and got out enough canned food for four days, all our spare line and so on first.
I lowered the table into its “bed” height to make it easy to pile the sails, dinghy, cockpit cushions and everything else all in one spot. I kept the opposite settee open to sit on, as well as leaving the V-berth unobstructed for us to sleep.
And then the first gust hit.
And everything slid to the floor. I didn’t get a picture of the carnage, but literally everything in that pile went either onto the floor or was thrown onto the opposite settee.
Luckily, we were both on deck as it happened and no one was injured. At the time, I cleared just enough space to be able to get to the manual bilge pump should we need it. We left everything on the floor until the bulk of the storm was over — there was no way to move any of it with the way the boat was rolling.
THE CORRECT WAY TO STOW GEAR
The whole experience made me realize that I really had to think about how we stowed everything below. Yes, we needed to have spaces to sit and sleep, but we also had to contain all the extra gear so that it couldn’t be thrown around.
For later storms, we packed everything into the v-berth where it couldn’t escape when the boat rolled. And when hurricane prepping our current boat, we put everything into an aft cabin and, literally, shut the door.
We also take a good look around and stow everything as if we were heading out on passage — books secured with fiddles, knives in a drawer, electronics in the most secure places, etc.
Even if you are not staying aboard (and you shouldn’t if there is a safe place ashore), you don’t want anything flying around the inside of the boat — whether for it to break, or damage something else.