Hurricane Preparation Tips & Tricks

Hurricane Preparation Tips & Tricks

Hurricanes are tropical cyclones. They are categorized by their wind speeds and size starting around 74 mph. They bring strong winds (obviously), sometimes rain, storm surge tides, strong waves, flooding, and strong currents. All things that can be hazardous to your boat. As Hurricane Florence approaches the east coast, we’d like to take some time to share a few “Nautical Solutions” (HA! see what I did there?) to keep your vessel safe during a storm! My parents have had a boat for longer than I’ve been alive and growing up in a NJ coastal town, you get to know the drill pretty well! Also, we got to experienc Hurricane Lane in Hawaii this year too! YAY! lol Enjoy!


    • The safest place for your small boat during a hurricane is on a trailer, in an area that is NOT prone to flooding and away from any trees that could drop large branches or fall and damage your vessel. Large parking lots are a good choice but PLEASE make sure that you remember to TIE THE BOAT TO THE TRAILER! There’s nothing worse than coming to check on your boat after the storm, and the strong winds have knocked it off the trailer.

  • If you boat is on a trailer, make sure to take out all of the drain plugs so that excess rain doesn’t settle in your hull. Also, make sure that your cabin is sealed so that water can’t get inside.

  • Larger boats that cannot be taken out of the water should be taken up river, or up stream where there will be less wave activity. The wind waves alone could damage your boat on the dock, or damage your dock.

  • Extra large boats may want to consider riding out the storm in the open ocean. If you have a big port or yacht marina near you, you may notice a line of boats going out to sea. That’s because they are too big to take to a protected area, and they are too heavy, not to damage the dock when large waves invade the marina. Consult a licensed USCG Captain before trying this yourself.

  • If your keeping you boat in the water install an EXTRA bilge pump - I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone to a marina to check on boats in a rain storm only to find half of them are sinking because the bilge couldn’t keep up with the water, it burned itself out constantly running, or the battery died from the bilge pump running nonstop.

  • Make sure you boat will be there after the storm with extra dock lines! Get extra dock lines and duplicate each line that you use to tie the boat to the dock… i.e. There should be 2 dock lines to every attachment point from boat to dock.

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  • Factor in extra-high tides when setting the length for your dock lines. The boat may need a little extra wiggle room to avoid excess load on your lines. You can use a tide prediction chart to find out the expectations for the tide heights.

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  • Remove ALL canvases and plastic windows, called isinglass, that are at risk for wind damage! If they aren’t essential, take them off! While your at it, take off (or put in the cabin) any cushions, fishing poles, nets, or electronics as well!


  • Keep your vessel registration and HIN with you. If your boat is lost (which happens) you may need to have that information to collect it. While your at it, please make sure all of your registration stickers are up to date on your boat! If something happens, you don’t want a ticket on top of that.


  • Remove your dock box from the dock, if possible. Flooding, wind, waves … you don’t want to loose it, or have it end up in the water damaging your boat. Lose boats are most likely the #1 cause of damage storms.

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  • Check your cleat hitches and make sure that lines are attached to cleats that have a strong backing inside the boat. If you’ve taken a N/S course, you better still know how to tie a proper cleat hitch! RECAP >> from the boat to the dock cleat .. “far” horn … “near” horn … cross and go around “far” horn … make a loop, spin it until the “working” (or free end) is on the bottom... Put the loop over the “near” horn… should look like “2 rivers under a bridge”

  • The only thing left to do is to prepare the wine and food supply for your storm party! It’s always fun to wait out the storm, especially when you know you don’t have to worry about your boat!

Do you have any other tips and trick for storm preparation? Share them in the comments below!

6+ Reasons to Host an On-The-Water Course

6+ Reasons To Host An on-the-water Course!

Safety is always the number one item at the top of every on-the-water organizations' priority list! No matter how safe we claim to be, there is always room for improvement! All of the boating safety books in the world are great, but doing is how you understand, just like field trips & science projects in school. The confucious use the quote above, which means that none of our teaching tools are as effective as experiencial learning. So, get out there and physically participate to fully understand something!

Here are a few other reasons that might persuade you to host an on-the-water course at your organization:

  1. On-the-water Training!  
    1. Increase employee safety & comfort on the water! 
    2. Peace of mind that your team is safe!
    3. Every boat is different... this course can familiarize students with the boats that they will be operating.
  2. Professional Development (certifications are not required)
    1. NASBLA Certification - National Association of State Boating Law Administrators
    2. US Powerboating Certification - The nation's best and most comprehensive hands-on boating agency!
    3. State Certification (available in most states) - CA Boater Card, NJ Boating Safety Cert., etc.
    4. Experiential Learning - N/S certification (if other certifications are not available)
  3. $$$ Save Money! $$$
    1. Most insurance carriers offer discounts when all vessel-operators are certified!
    2. Insurance discounts for students' personal vessels!!! WOOHOO!
    3. More training = less accidents = less costly vessel repairs = lower insurance premiums = $$$ SAVINGS $$$
    4. Weekday course discounts!! 
  4. Flexibility! Customization!
    1. Customize your course! No one else offers this! No more cookie cutter courses!
    2. Don't waste time on things you already know! N/S will keep in mind your budget & needs.
    3. Look at our "past course portfolio" below to get ideas!
    4. We can charter vessels if your organization don't have enough!
  5. Learn-to-Sail Programs & your instructor candidates!
    1. Give your instructor candidates the tools to succeed and ease their nerves by working with a US Sailing Instructor Trainer to teach them the skills for their certification.
    2. How are your current instructors? Could they use a refresh on their on-the-water skills?
  6. Create a Fundraiser!
    1. Non-profit or boating education-based programs can host a course as a fundraiser for their program!

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The Conversation in Boating Education, Today.

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The conversation about qualification standards for sailing instructors is wildly different from the years past when anyone who had summers free could coach. This shift in conversation is for good reason. The sailing community has begun looking into the possibility and feasibility of more stringent standards for instructors' power boat handling skills. Sailing World's Kimball Livingston asked Nautical Solutions owner, Jaimie Bartlett, what she thought about the topic. Livingston convinced his editors to publish an article in the March 2018 issue in an effort to promote this important conversation. 

Thank you, Kimball Livingston, for being a proponent for power boat training and bringing this topic into the minds of Sailing World's followers.


Why is this topic important? The reason is simple ... safety! Let me set the scene for you all. Most sailing programs consist of high school or college kids driving around in high speed death machines (AKA power boats) trying to herd cats.

The skills that are required to safely (not even effectively!) ... JUST SAFELY ... teach any level of sailors on the water are MUCH more than the handful of skills that are tested during an instructor course. They are also required to demonstrate their PB handling skills during other parts of the course. During this time, they have to successfully run a water drill ... for 5 minutes. Most "ok" vessel operators can feign power boat handling skills for a 5 minute drill where they sit stationary and "coach" experienced sailors pretending to be beginner sailors. Where as, any practiced coach can tell you that a lot can go wrong in 5 minutes with actual beginner sailors. If your nervous or apprehensive about your skills, can you ... should you! ... get in there and help when things go wrong? Until you have the necessary skills, you are no better than a passive observer. 

What skills are necessary? Not just to be a safe passive observer, but to be a safe and effective coach, I tell my students, "when the boat feels as if it's an extension of your body and you don't have to think about driving it, that's when you start to effectively coach". You can be a safe coach before driving your boat is muscle memory, but can you really be an effective coach if you worried or thinking about your power boat handling skills. When you learn to race in regattas, can you truly achieve high rankings until the same thing happens? You can not truly focus on the tactical moves that you have to make until you don't have to think about the boat handling skills. Coaching sailing is the same way. Coaching any physical skill is the same way. Luckily, most YC programs put new instructors with experienced ones so that they can carry more of the coaching load.

As an instructor trainer for US Sailing, I have found that instructor candidates (ICs) have the most trouble with powerboat practical assessment. That is why Nautical Solutions has been teaming up with yacht club programs to provide power boat training for the ICs and continuing education for certified instructors (CIs).

In my opinion, we may not be stressing the importance of having competent instructors by only testing basic power boat skills. I've personally had students pass the series of skills who later told me that they have never operated a boat before. What does this say? Does it say that the instructor is grading too loosely (I assure you that is not the case - ask my students), that our standards are too low or that these people are the exception? Well, it is absolutely the exception but it is also a combination between that and our standards of assessment. There are many more students who find the assessment extremely difficult. It evokes quite a large amount of stress and anxiety for 99% of the ICs. Even though the students complain that it is too hard, they don't realize the level of skill that they will actually need to do their job safely. 

Is it feasible to teach these skills during instructor certification courses? They are already jam packed with 10-hour days and late nights to minimize the amount of school/work students must miss to attend. Anyone who has taken ANY US Sailing course can attest to the daunting amount of tasks that must be accomplished within the time frame. There is no possible way to fit in any thing else during IC courses. To me, there are two options. 1) Include a 5th day of power boat training or 2) require all ICs to have a US Powerboating certification prior to their instructor course. Many yacht clubs have already adopted the latter plan for multiple reasons.

What do you think about this topic? Do you have suggestions or other insights to the matter that may be important?

Read Sailing World magazine or with their app!

Read the Sailing World Article HERE