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With the devastation of Hurricane Dorian already this season, we thought the time was right to reiterate for marina owners how a hurricane preparation plan can be implemented. As we’ve seen with Harvey and Irma, Maria and now Dorian, these storms are not always predictable and the destruction can be immense.

No coastal marina owner wants to think about hurricane season and the possibility of damaged facilities but, unfortunately, it’s inevitable. It’s best to be prepared well in advance so when the time comes, you aren’t scrambling to make sure your marina investment is protected. Consequently, it’s simply too late when a hurricane watch has been issued.


The following are 8 things we recommend marina owners implement in order to ensure the safety of the marina. * You should determine:

  1. Possible direction and size of waves, and wind exposure, as well as predicted surge levels.
  2. Potential flooding from upland.
  3. Potential protected areas and the availability of “hurricane holes” or “Harbors of Refuge,” plus distance, protection of route, and estimated anchorage capacity.
  4. Adjacent upland damage potential considering structures, utility corridors, topography, vegetation, etc.
  5. Structural aspects of and damage potential to floating boat docks and piers: piling size and type, type of docks and direction of slips, wood or concrete, cleat sizes and strength, berth layout, seawall protection, etc.
  6. Structural aspects of and damage potential to buildings, including dry racks.
  7. Shut off and/or disconnect mechanisms for utilities (overhead lines, exposed water, electrical and fuel lines to docks).
  8. How safe the location is for marina employees and customers, the location of the nearest shelter and the evacuation route.


An effective marina hurricane preparation plan also requires compliance and effort by boat owners. The task will go smoother if the boat owner accepts the plan. Similarly, the manner and how well the plan is communicated are critical for a successful evacuation.

Communicate legal requirements in the rental contract. These are items required of every renter for the safety of the marina, personnel, and other vessels:

  • Wet dry/slip and storage evacuation policies;
  • Responsibilities to board, move, or to secure vessels;
  • Liability insurance coverage requirements;
  • Boat owner responsibility for damages by boat to marina property and others;
  • Likewise, boat owner responsibility regarding boats and environmental damage;

Here are specific ways you can communicate to your renters:

  1. Attach your Hurricane Preparation Plan to the rental contract.
  2. Communicate the Hurricane Preparation Plan in mailings and seminars
  3. Provide checklists for securing boats – dockside, at anchor, and ashore.
  4. Finally, plan best slip and rack reassignments for hurricanes and communicate those assignments.

There are many factors to take into account when preparing for a hurricane. Too numerous to mention are the variables involved with the storm itself. Marina owners planning in advance assure boat owners and employees that safety, above all, is top of mind. No one can predict the damage a storm inflicts. Being prepared and controlling as much as possible are important in mitigating the worst disaster.

If you’d like more detailed information, please contact us.

For more hurricane preparedness information visit NOAA.

An example of a Hurricane Preparedness Plan* for a marina is provided by The Landings Association and can be viewed here.

You may also be interested in reading 5 Marina Safety Programs and 6 Basic Boating Safety Tips

*Following this checklist does not assure damage prevention or that the marina owner may not be held liable for damages. Maricorp US assumes no responsibility for any damage or injury that may occur in the implementation of these guidelines.