Hurricane Prep & Your Boat: What You Need To Know
June 1, 2023
Of the 292 hurricanes that have hit the U.S. since 1851, a staggering 120 have made some sort of landfall in Florida*. Florida has also been hit by more than twice as many hurricanes as the next closest hurricane-prone state, which is Texas*. Hurricane season in Florida runs from June through November with an average of two storms per year that make landfall.
After your family safety & home, your boat can be next on your list for hurricane prep. Preparing your boat for storm season will ensure the safety of your boat and protect your asset. If you’re a seasonal resident your boat must be secured before you leave the area. For year-round residents who use their boats regularly, hurricane prep is usually done days before the storm advances. Remember, securing space at a marina is not always an option for the last minute, so arrange your space in advance!
HERE ARE SEVEN WAYS YOU CAN ENSURE THE BEST SAFETY FOR YOUR VESSEL THIS UPCOMING HURRICANE SEASON:
STAY STORM INFORMED
The National Hurricane Center (NHC) is prompt and accurate with it’s hurricane updates. This includes any US Coast Guard advisories and also local authority announcements. It’s best to keep advised on the storm’s projected path, intensity and potential impact to your area. Watch the storm: if it is definitely moving to your area, but not making landfall you may only need to tie additional lines to your boat, tying it to it’s lift and/or pilings. The last thing you want is to be scrambling last minute, be prepared!
HAVE A SET PLAN & CONSIDER HAULING OUT
Determine where you will secure your boat during the storm. Whether it’s a marina, boat house or on the hard. Ensure if your boat is left out in the elements, you have proper storm protection. For smaller boats, you can trailer the vessel as far inland as possible and tie the boat to the trailer securely. Place blocks around the wheels and deflate the tires to prevent the trailer from rolling. Avoid areas with trees and overhead wires as well as objects that could come down. For larger boats, tie the vessel to its storage cradle with several heavy lines. Depending on it’s weight, consider pumping water into the bilge for added weight to hold it down. If your vessel must stay in a marina berth, double all lines and rig-cross spring lines fore and aft, then attach lines as high as you can on pilings to allow for tidal rise or surge. Remember: cover all lines to prevent chafing! Consider removing all expensive electronics and close all hull valves (except auto bilge drains/other drains). Secure hatches, windows and doors.
REVIEW YOUR BOAT INSURANCE COVERAGE
You should be familiar with your boat’s insurance coverages well before hurricane season. Ensure it’s up-to-date! Understanding your coverages in the event of a hurricane or any storm damage can help bring a sense of relief pending anything bad should happen. Also, you may want to increase coverage prior to storm season to make sure you’re fully covered especially if you’re in a more hurricane-prone area in Florida. Make note of any conditions or exceptions and prepare accordingly. Many policies are very, very strict in terms of what they will cover in terms of hurricane damages. Make sure you’re aware of your policies guidelines, otherwise your potential insurance claim may be rejected. On a side note, make sure you have photo documentation that show any damages from the storm that your vessel has sustained.
EMERGENCY KITS FOR BOTH ON AND OFF VESSEL
Whether you’re staying on your boat in a marina or hunkering down inland, you need to have an emergency kit at all times for the unknown, especially during hurricane season. Helpful items you can include in your kit are: first aid items, non-perishable food, drinking water, flashlights, batteries, NOAA weather radio and necessary medications. Make sure you have enough supplies to get you and your loved ones through at least a couple of days. If you’re on your boat you can also include flares and a manual bilge pump. Check to make sure your on-board fire extinguisher is not expired and that you have a tool kit with everyday tools.
WATCH FOR EVACUATION ORDERS
Local authorities will determine if evacuation is needed; something very important to watch and listen for. If an evacuation is ordered, follow them promptly to ensure your safety. Know your evacuation route for your area! It’s crucial to your personal safety and the safety of your family or crew members.
STAY INFORMED ON POST STORM CONDITIONS
After a hurricane passes through, our waterways will be littered with debris, submerged and unseen hazards, or landscape and navigation channels that have been altered. Make sure you are aware and informed of these changes to help keep your vessel safe. After the storm, report any issues to the FWC; there may be marina eligibility for disaster relief for you. Also, it’s helpful to report any missing or damaged waterway markers. If your boat might be lost or abandoned, contact your local law enforcement agency or the FWC Division of Law Enforcement at 1.888.404.3922.
MAINTAIN A LIST OF KEY CONTACTS
Make sure you have a list of key contacts accessible that you may need throughout the boating season. These can include your marina, emergency numbers such as towing providers and your insurance agent.
Article & Content written by Jill Lengyel, Thunder Marine 6/1/2023.
*Source: Google.com via Universal Property.com