Written by FSF Crew
Tips to ensure a safe boating.
Can you believe it? Hurricane season is once again upon us, and if you own a boat now is the time to start preparing for the unthinkable. It doesn’t matter whether you store your most prized possession at a marina, on a trailer or in dry storage, everyone is susceptible to damage from heavy wave action, hurricane force winds, tropical downpours, storm surge, and collisions from nearby vessels/objects.
Remember that it doesn’t take a direct hit from a severe hurricane to send powerful winds and storm surge in your direction – you can experience serious damage even if the storm doesn’t pass as close as once predicted.
How to Prepare
Hurricanes are extremely powerful and unpredictable cyclonic systems that deserve the utmost of respect. Even with today’s high-tech communication and forecasting systems it is virtually impossible to predict the precise path of the eye. This means you must always be prepared for the worst.
Things to Do Before a Storm Approaches
- Check your boat’s hatches, ports, windows and doors to make sure they are watertight. As an added precaution, enhance the seal with duct tape.
- Store your insurance policy and boat registration documents in a safe place off your vessel.
- Take pictures and/or videos to inventory your boat, equipment and gear.
- Top off your boat’s fuel and water tank(s) and check to make sure all batteries are fully charged.
- Remove and/or secure all gear on deck including: outriggers, fighting-chairs, coolers, radio antennas and canvas Bimini-tops.
At the Dock
If you own a boat that is too large to trailer, you have three options: Secure the boat at a dock, moor the boat in a safe cove or harbor often called a “hurricane hole,” or have the boat hauled and placed in dry storage which is likely your best bet. However, if you decide to leave your boat at a private dock or in a marina, you should devise a plan of action well before a storm is approaching. Here are some general recommendations.
- Double all lines and set up crossing spring lines fore and aft.
- Attach lines high on pilings to allow for rising tidal or storm surges.
- Use long dock lines in conjunction with chafe devices to ensure the well being of critical points.
- Look for strong trees, pilings and cleats that can be used to secure docklines.
- You are most likely going to use nearby or adjacent pilings, so it will take planning and cooperation from slip-neighbors and/or marina management.
Breakdown of Hurricane Categories and Associated Storm Surges
||Wind Speed (MPH)
||Storm Surge (Feet)
If your boat is easily trailerable, it is highly recommended that you store your boat far away from the danger of rising storm surge. If at all possible, store your boat in a garage or warehouse. If this is not an option, there are a few things you can do to ensure the safety of your vessel.
- Place your trailer where there is some protection from wind, falling branches, and flying debris.
- You can increase the weight of your boat by filling any fish boxes or livewells with hose water. If you decide to do this, you must remember to slightly deflate your trailer tires and place wooden blocks between the trailer’s frame to help support the added weight.
- Secure your trailer and boat to the ground with augers or anchors.
- Pick a location that enables you to lash your boat from all four corners, as storm winds can quickly rotate and change directions.
Boats on Lifts/Davits
A boat lift is not the ideal place to store your vessel during a hurricane, as it is possible for the storm surge to rise higher than your lift. If your boat must remain on its lift, be sure to remove the drainage plug(s) so the accumulated rainwater/storm surge will not jeopardize the structural integrity of your lift. It is also extremely important that you securely attach your boat to the lift.
Remote Vessel Monitoring
There are low-cost, remote vessel monitoring systems that can notify you of problems on your vessel when you are away from the dock. These systems can be delivered ready to monitor bilge and battery levels with three additional inputs that can be used to monitor security and fire hazards as well.
Things to Do After a Storm Passes
- If your boat is damaged from the storm, immediately contact your insurance agent and be sure not to sign any wreck removal or salvage agreements before acquiring approval from your insurance provider.
- If you were fortunate enough to avoid any serious damage, be sure to help your neighbors and friends if assistance is needed.
Shared with Permission by FloridaSportFishing.