its all about the prep

Sailboats & Hurricanes – Its All About The Prep

I was raised in the plains of West Texas where dust storms, tornadoes and hail the size of softballs were all pretty common.

Growing up I remember the tornado drills at school. We would line up in the hallways with our butts perched in the air and our textbooks covering our heads. At home if we heard the town siren go off, we would head for the eerie, cobweb filled storm cellar.

Tropical storms, cyclones and hurricanes are all words I know of…but until recently, I’ve never experienced them.

Hurricanes, much like any natural disaster, aren’t very predictable. They vary their intensity and direction so often that it’s nearly impossible to know what they’ll do…until they’re on top of you.

When hurricane Hermine threatened to head our way during our shakedown cruise, we played it safe and went back to our safe harbor in Ft. Lauderdale. It was a week delay and the hurricane ended up the opposite direction of us. We lucked out and decided to sail south to the Keys.

Fast forward a couple of months and here comes hurricane Matthew. It worked out well in the fact that we were already back at Just Catamarans for the last of our boat projects, but Matthew rudely interrupted our forward momentum. None of our work would matter if our sailboat and everything else were wiped out, so we put the projects on hold and began our hurricane preparations. Mother Nature is serious and she is on no one’s schedule but her own.

We dodged a major bullet. Matthew was a big hurricane and devastated portions of Haiti, Florida, North Carolina and the Bahamas. I’m not a big believer in luck but I was feeling mighty lucky to be left untouched after this one. It could have ended very differently for us.

We spent a solid two days preparing the boat for the hurricane and it was exhausting both mentally and physically. It took another two days to undo all the preparations. A quick glance at the news headlines and we were super happy to be dealing with nothing more than undoing.

un preparing the sailboat from hurricane

The Big Takeaway

We learned a ton! There is no way we could have learned as much about properly securing our boat for severe weather than this experience.

Not only did we learn to secure our boat but once we were good, we tried to help Just Catamarans with double checking and adding additional lines to the other boats in their care. Then there were the other boat owners and captains working away too. Some very thorough and others far too relaxed. We witnessed the whole gamut.

Granted, all of this was at a marina and not out at anchor but the lessons learned transfer. We feel so much more confident in our “how to prepare” knowledge and if we find ourselves in a good blow or worse…at least we now have a little real practice under our belts.

stripping the sailboat for hurricane

tying up catamaran for hurricane

Sailboat Hurricane Preparations

I could try to regurgitate all the information I learned but I feel there are much more experienced sources out there for education.  I will link to some of the articles and videos I have found helpful and share some thoughts from our experience.

  • Lines, lots and lots of lines of all sorts of sizes.
  • Do the tasks most affected by wind first (like taking down sails). We use Predict Wind to stay current on wind, waves and swell, which helps us to know when the winds will start to pick up.
  • Make the longest spring lines possible and make them as tight as you can.
  • Double up on fenders (one high, one low) and tie them up to stantions, not lifelines.
  • Secure the boat from all directions. Forward, back, side to side. We used anchors to keep our bow steady where there wasn’t anything to tie up to.
  • Shore power. If anything blows or surges during a storm, you don’t want to be plugged into shore power. This is where having our lithium battery bank is super handy. We could conservatively keep everything running a week before needing to kick on a generator.
  • Know when to evacuate. Only you know your comfort level but if there is a mandatory evacuation…go.
  • Shrink wrap tape – This stuff is amazing. It sticks and holds well but comes off clean. We used this around our hatches (because despite what we try, some of them still leak) and we used it to secure our windows that hadn’t been caulked back into place.

Additional Resources:

Share Your Two Cents

Have you ridden out a big storm that left you with some new-found wisdom? Maybe there is a book, video or article that completely changed your tactics. Whatever is on your mind, share it below in the comments. I know we’ve learned a lot through all of you and it helps other newbies reading the comments too. Thanks for being a part of our community!

Filming / Photography Equipment used:

• Sony A72:
• Sony A6000:
• Sony RX100:
• Sony Zoom Mic:
• Sony 18-105 Lens:
• Sony Action Cam:
All our camera/editing equipment:

Ok, just two more photos, these are of what not to leave out during a hurricane. Can you say projectiles?! Yikes!

poor hurricane preparation for boats

bad boat hurricane preparations

Hello there! I honestly don’t know what to say, so I am going to tell you a bunch of random facts instead. I'm a fish eating vegetarian who hates spiders and loves snakes. I almost never took vacations growing up. I wanted to be Pippi Longstocking (still do). I misspell about every other word I write and still struggle with grammar. I love splurging on a good high tea (which is really hard to find these days). And whatever you do, don’t tell me I can’t do something, because then I'll HAVE to do it!

Comments (27)

  • Bahamamama penny

    This is Zac Novaks mom. We ate on Long Island in Thompson Bay. I do the morning weather/ island. Ews for boaters as our house overlooks TB.
    Come see us! Love your blog!!

  • Hope you made a list of your prep activities. Trying to remember them 6mo or a year from now when you need them again could be an issue. Particularly with the rest of the new memories you are making. Thanks for the videos and keep living the dream.

  • Barbara Curtis

    You did it!!!! You’re in the Bahamas!!! Woo-Hoo!!! I’ve been watching your pin sit at Dania Beach for so long and I was SO excited to see it now sitting in the Bahamas! Congratulations on your first crossing!!

  • Joanie

    Jason and Nikki, well done. Glad you took this storm seriously. One never knows the outcome and thankfully this passed over. Glad you and the cats are safe, happy and ready to sail. I so enjoy your videos. Till the next time… Happy Thanksgiving.

  • Sam Walker

    Awesome vid. Your emotion really showed through. Nice hat, Nikki.

  • Bill W.

    Even though it is great fun to watch you guys go about the daily life of catamaran owners, I’m still left with the impression that this full-time sailing endeavor takes more time, effort, money, and danger then it is worth. Of course, I haven’t seen you pull into a Caribbean harbor yet, so hopefully the pay-off is just areound the corner.

  • So glad everyone was safe and property damages kept to a minimum.
    As you said, excellent chance for a learning experience.

  • Great collection of information. So grateful for all your videos since we kinda right behind you in our pursuit of a sailboat and cruising. We are actually looking at a Leopard right now. Who did you use as your surveyor? It seems like they did a good job. Thank you again. Fair wi ds amd following seas! 🙂

  • Excellent writing & video. Regarding Distant Shores… would be great to get them on Patreon also. They have done so much for the cruising/sailing community. We offered to help them get started, maybe if you shared your story it might encourage them? Fair winds Curiosity!

  • Even though Matthew didn’t get very close, it was predicted to hit the east coast of Florida and go straight up the coast. You made the right decision to leave. We lived in Florida many years and I know that hurricanes often spawn tornadoes, so even with a minimal hurricane, you could have gotten into trouble. One thing we learned, is the forecasters predict the path much better than they predict strength. I’m glad your beautiful boat was spared and we can continue to enjoy your wonderful videos.

  • Manson & Cindy - Cat's Meow

    Hi guys. Where did you get the cool free-standing mesh bags that you keep your dock lines and spares in? Looks like some sort of laundry bag. Thanks!

  • Bernard Schaer

    I’m sure glad it all went well for you guys.

  • Barbara Dobree


  • John Schretlen

    You are probably the ONLY boat owners who managed to make a video of your experience.
    I was impressed with all the lines strung across the marina. (We never see that up here unless it’s April 1st and the boys are having fun.)

  • Mary

    It’s always nice to have a trial run. So glad Matthew passed you by!

  • Michael

    The cats sure looked happy to be back on board. They seemed relieved that everything was okay.

    It won’t be long and we will all need to be able to get away like you two. Thank you for giving us a much needed diversion. Made my day.

    By the way, does dual citizenship help when traveling by boat to other countries? Have you ever heard anything about that subject?

  • Brian

    Glad you weathered the storm. Most important thing, you two are both ok, next down the list is, the cats are ok, and of course the boat is ok. I always enjoy your videos, I don’t think the elections effect the experience and fun you two bring to us viewers. Thanks again for a great video, looking forward to future high seas adventures.

  • Tim

    Glad your both safe …oh and the cats as well.

  • D. Coleman

    Best outcome possible….test run…steep learning curve…knowing what’s really important! Resumption of living among friends and life goals. Whew! Thanks for taking us along.

  • Sam Nash

    Just remove yourself John, then you can go and find a better use for your time.

    • Dennis

      If I could give you two thumbs up emoticon’s I would Sam!!! LOL

  • Sam Nash

    Has there been a video regarding your lithium battery install, charging and usage?

  • John

    Really not interesting anymore. Remove me from email. I wish you both well. We all have a shitty election to deal with now. Friends from abroad are asking me what is wrong with the USA.

    • Evan

      John, in answer to your question…. EVERYTHING!!!

  • “We need micro-managing over here.”

    “Oh, well, I’m your girl!”

    I love it! Glad you guys got through this one okay.


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