Hurricane Preparation For Boaters
Hurricane Preparation For Boaters
A Guide From Eric's Outboard Marine Service
Hurricanes, known as typhoons or tropical cyclones in the Pacific and Indian Oceans, are powerful storm systems. They carry high winds, lightning, hail and heavy rains into coastlines, damaging homes, buildings and other property over a number of days. They are a serious concern for anyone who lives along the Gulf Coast or along the Eastern Seaboard, with hurricane season beginning around June 1 and ending November 30, with a peak in September. The Pacific Coast hurricane season is similar, but slightly longer.
For boat owners, hurricanes present some unique challenges. Because hurricanes generate large tidal surges in addition to all the weather-related damage, they can easily sweep boats off the water and destroy them. Even if your boat isn’t torn away from its moorings, it can sustain significant damage and items aboard your boat will be tossed about. Tending to your boat before a hurricane can help you to save it and spare you expensive repairs or replacements. This guide to hurricane preparation for boaters by Eric’s Outboard Marine Service Inc. in Miami, Florida should help you protect your boat as best you can before the storm hits.
Check Your Insurance Policy
Your marine insurance may require you take some action to make any weather-related claims valid. Brush up on what these actions may be. Make sure that you have all your legal documents such as your insurance policy, boat registration, slip rental agreements, radio licenses and anything else in one secure waterproof container that you can easily move. Inventory all these items in case of evacuation. Video and photographic footage of your boat and everything on it can help if your boat sustains damage and you do need to file a claim.
Storing Your Boat Ashore
You may not have more than 24 hours’ notice from news and weather services about a hurricane sweeping into your area, but generally the storm will be tracked for several days in advance of its windfall. This gives you sufficient time to cancel boating plans and remove your boat from the water if you store it at a marina. Some marinas may even require boat owners to remove all boats if a hurricane watch is issued, so check with yours to know their policy.
Trailer your boat and take it to higher ground further inland, storing it indoors if possible in a garage or other secure location. If your boat must remain outside, lash it to the trailer, deflate the tires and tie the trailer to the ground, away from surrounding fences or trees or your house. Weigh the boat down and remove all non-permanent items like fishing equipment. Tape or board up windows.
Securing Your Boat At The Marina
If you can’t remove your boat from the water because you don’t have time or a place to store it, then you’ll have to make do with what’s available. You have three options for securing your boat in the water during a hurricane: berthing, anchoring, and hurricane holes. Be sure to remove all sails, canvas, life jackets, fishing and watersports equipment, outboard motors and anything else that isn’t a permanent part of your boat first.
Berthing at a dock that is sheltered from open water will help. Double your mooring lines while giving enough slack to allow your boat to move up and down with the water and cover them with chafe protectors where the lines are likely to rub against surfaces and wear down.
If your boat is in a protected harbor with firm enough sediment, then you can anchor your boat securely with a heavy anchor or even multiple anchors. Helix-type anchors that twist into the bottom of a marina are best as they can hold between 12,000 and 20,000 pounds and are much harder to shift than mushroom or deadweight anchors. An anchored boat has the advantage of mobility, meaning it can shift with wind and water changes without striking docks or other boats.
Hurricane holes are deep coves or inlets surrounded by sturdy trees that block the wind and give you a place to tie off your anchor lines. Ideally, your best hurricane hole is sufficiently inland to avoid severe winds and high tides while being easy to reach on short notice. Scouting one out ahead of time is a good call if you want to use this option in a hurricane.
Don’t Stay With Your Boat
Even if you live on your boat full-time, you need to evacuate it in a severe storm. Some people have tried to weather hurricanes in their boats, but this is a terrible idea. Your boat will not provide a safe enough shelter for you or your family, so you’ll have to seek shelter further inland. Don’t try to stay with your boat to protect it or keep watch over it; your life is much more important than your boat, which can always be replaced. Move as far inland as you possibly can and only return to your boat after the entire hurricane system has passed. You can assess any damage and begin insurance claims then.
Hurricane preparation takes some time and effort, but it’s the best way to save your boat in a storm. If your boat has sustained damage, call up Eric’s Outboard Marine service department to schedule repairs or order parts. We also carry a full line of Yamaha engines. Stop in and see us at our location in Miami, Florida, today!