Protect Your Boat

This Macgregor 26 was blown off its trailer in last week’s monsoon. It rolled completely over before coming to rest upright at least 50-feet away. Photo by Jeff Bryant.

Written by Ed Huntsman and Bob Naylor

Ed Huntsman serves as AYC’s Seamanship and Safety Chair. He has over 30-years of experience in boating safety, including a wide variety of professional and volunteer roles with the USCG, AZ Game and Fish, the Drowning Prevention Coalition of Arizona, and other organizations.

Ed can be reached at

Summer storage tips

Our August monthly meeting featured guest speaker John Keegan, who is a Rescue Swimmer and Response Boat Operator for the Peoria Fire Department at the Lake Pleasant fire station. His presentation was top notch, and even our old salts picked-up a few new safety tips. You can view John’s slide deck here: August Presentation.

While John expertly covered on-the-water safety from his first-hand experiences, the subject of protecting your boat during our summer monsoons was out-of-scope of his talk.

A few days following his presentation, as happens almost every summer, a strong storm hit Pleasant Harbor causing significant damage. Six (6) boats up to 26-feet were flipped over, with three (3) tossed more than 50-feet from their trailer. Three (3) were flipped completely upside down, one (1) of which fully rolled over, landing upright with its mast snapped off and bent in half. Other boats had sails torn to shreds, and several others were blown sideways in their parking space, or out of their space altogether. In another indication of wind strength, a nearby brand-new, 30-foot travel trailer was flipped upside down with the owner and his dog inside (neither were seriously injured).

Boat damages easily totaled well into the thousands of dollars, with quotes for crane service to right boats coming it at $500 per boat alone. Below are a few tips to help your boat make it through the remainder of monsoon season.

Dry Storage on-the-hard:

  • use ratchet straps and lines to secure your boat to the trailer. Even if the boat and trailer are toppled by severe winds, less damage will occur than if the boat breaks free.
  • if permitted by your storage facility, consider driving rebar or some other type of anchoring device into the ground around the trailer. Secure the trailer to the rebar to prevent it from flipping should gusting winds get under the hull.
  • remove all sails for the summer and stow them below or at home
  • use good chocks on all trailer tires to prevent movement. Consider jacking-up the trailer and resting it on blocks or jackstands for the summer to keep it from moving.
  • boats stored in the Tempe Town Lake boatyard should have their trailers or dollies firmly secured to the in-ground eye-bolts provided in most storage spaces.

Slips and Marinas:

  • make sure the deck is clear and all lines are secured
  • double-up your mooring lines to cleats on the hull that are backed. Check that dock cleats don’t have sharp edges on the bottom of the horn (from casting) that can easily cut lines.
  • use extra fenders in a slip
  • remove sails and properly stow them below
  • ensure all leaks have been repaired
  • hatches should be dogged and tightly closed
  • close any through hull fittings
  • if you use a cover, ensure straps are adequate and will stay secure – winds can reach 75-mph

Ed’s email tagline is a Gordon Giesbrecht quote, “Always be prepared for the most likely worst case scenario.” Sound advice! And ALWAYS, always, always stay informed on what the weather is doing – keep an eye on the sky!

For more information on how to protect your boat during monsoon season, see this article from Practical Sailor – Surviving a Storm.