Hurricane Prep Tips for Boaters
As Floridians begin preparing for the potential landfall of hurricane Irma, boaters have more concerns than just protecting their homes.
Severe weather has the potential to do serious damage or, in some cases, even destroy vessels. It’s important to have a plan in place for unpredictable conditions.
Develop a hurricane plan
If you live in a hurricane-prone area, such as Florida, the best thing you can do for hurricane preparedness is to develop a plan a head of time – so, in the event of a severe storm, you’ve got a plan in place. Review your dock contract and boater’s insurance for any necessary requirements.
Prepare your boat for the storm
There are a few must-do’s to keep your boat safe during a storm, whether it’s on dry land or in-water. To avoid water leakage to the interior of the boat, seal off all windows, doors and hatches. Remove any items on the exterior that can be picked up by the wind. Take down any tops, such as Bimini tops, outriggers and any loose items in the cockpit or foredeck. Turn off the vessel’s electrical system and fuel lines, and remove the battery. Remove any moveable equipment from the vessel and latch down anything that cannot be removed.
Hauling a boat onto dry land isn’t always possible. If a vessel is staying in-water during a storm, it’s best to follow these guidelines. Cross-tie the boat down and triple, or even quadruple, the lines (with new lines) and put out the fenders. Floating docks are ideal as they move with the water level and don’t strain the lines. However, if a fixed dock is inevitable, be sure to use longer lines so the boat can float up and down with the water level, alleviating stress on the lines. If tied to a fixed dock, be sure the pilings are taller than the storm surge. Double-check with the marina on any or all procedures to remain in the water.
Hauling your boat
The best way to protect a vessel is to haul it out of the water – and the sooner the better. As a severe storm approaches, marinas and boat ramps become congested with boat owners preparing for the storm.
It’s important to take flooding into consideration. The higher ground, the better. Many yards offer annual contracts for hauling and storage during severe storms. Be sure the facility is a hurricane-rated dry storage facility – where boats up to 30’ can be stored.