Spring = Thunderstorms! 5 Tips to be Prepared!

Here in Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, spring and summer can bring some wicked thunderstorms.  Wicked to the locals means gusts of 50 knots-ish.  Since they’re thunderstorms, the gusts are usually quickly over and the biggest problem is finding new boat leaks.  The moorings here are rated to “hurricane strength”, helix construction which means drilled deep into the bottom and probably the best maintained we’ve ever encountered, but still a thunderstorm is a thunderstorm.  And a water spout is something we hope to never see hit another boat.    After the Marathon Cruiser’s Net (VHF 68 at 9 AM daily), there was a discussion of more experienced cruisers, helping newer cruisers prepare for the thunderstorm event forecast for tomorrow.

1.  All loose objects should be secured – after a wicked thunderstorm, City Marina here has a pile of boat cushions, gas cans and other “stuff” that blew off boats in the harbor during the storms.  Make sure to bring in boat cushions and tie down anything on deck that’s not tied on.   We also go to the trouble of dropping our kayaks from their racks on the lifelines to the deck and make sure they’re tied on.  Just less windage.

Extra sail ties secure our mack pack for threatening storms with gusts predicted over 50 mph.

2.  Check for loose canvas – we have a MackPack mainsail cover which is fairly loose & wind can get inside & create havoc.  We tie extra sail ties around it just to keep it a bit more secure in a violent gust.   We also doublecheck all our bimini, dodger and other canvas to make sure everything is snapped and no opportunity for a gust to get under it and rip something.

3.  Doublecheck your roller furling if you have it.  We have a roller furling jib.  We lock the roller furling mechanism in place with a shackle and also make sure we have plenty of wraps of line around the jib and that there are no loose edges on the way up inviting a gust to wreck havoc.

4.  If you get your dinghy up out of the water, be sure to remove the drain plug.  This will eliminate you having to get out in the pouring rain and bailing (which you’ll need to do anyway if your dinghy is in the water).

5.  Make sure your wind generator is secured.  No use losing it from a gust — ask me how I know.   We didn’t get ours secured quickly enough after Hurricane Ida and burn out the bearings.  And securing it doesn’t mean depending on the magnets to stop the spinning.  Tie it off however your wind generator secures best.

Of course, you could look at it like we do … it’s a great opportunity for a fresh water boat wash.  We could set out buckets and collect water, but there’s a ready source of water here in Marathon and if not, we could make our own with the watermaker.

And if the electricity goes out on the island, all the cruisers will be the only ones with electricity!   🙂

Prepare well & settle in with a good book or a movie from all that extra wind.


  1. Thanks very nice blog!

Speak Your Mind