With the height of hurricane season upon us, it’s imperative that you know what to do to quickly and safely secure your boat. When Jim Cantore starts broadcasting from your city, you don’t have time to research “how to…” articles. Your first priority should always be the safety of your family and self. Once you know that you will be safe during the storm, it’s time to secure your boat as not taking the proper steps can result in a serious financial burden. In 2017, hurricanes Harvey and Irma damaged or destroyed more than 63,000 boats with a value of $655 million

As a boat owner, NOAA’s National Hurricane Center should be a favorite site and monitored regularly, especially when the threat of a severe storm is looming. Weather can be unpredictable and a hurricane can twist or turn and become an immediate threat when you are least prepared. In addition to monitoring the weather through NOAA and Marine VHF Radios, there are a few calls that should be made. First- contact your local marina and ask for advice; if your boat is stored there, find out what their storm policy and practices are. Some marines require you to take specific actions prior to a storm in order to be covered by their insurance policies. Second- you will want to contact your insurance company and ensure that your policy is up to date while also finding out what you will need, should you need to submit a claim. This may include detailed photos of the boat, electronics, motors, interior, etc… with current date stamps, receipts for electronics and components, and photos and receipts for the trailer. ut all of these documents safely in the cloud or hard copies in a waterproof container that you keep on you. This way you can ensure that that information is stored safely out of harm’s way and easily accessible after the storm.

Your next step will be to secure your boat. The best solution is to remove your boat via a trailer if your boat is small enough. Ensure that your trailer is in good working order and relocate your boat to a location well above the storm surge risk zone. If you are not able to secure your boat in a garage, there are few things that can be done to make it more safe. First, ensure that it is tied down and anchored on the trailer securely and tightly, and if possible that the trailer is anchored to the ground. Second, you may want to remove some air from the tires of the trailer and block in the wheels to ensure the trailer does not become mobile in the storm. BoatUS recommends leaving the drain plug in on boats without a stern drive to add additional weight to the boat, which can also be used as a fresh water source should it become necessary after the storm. Remove as many items from the boat as possible and ensure that all remaining items on the boat are fastened securely, and that your boat is stored away from power poles and trees that may fall during the storm. The last thing you want is to remove it from the water only to have a tree fall on it.

If your boat is stored in a high rise storage rack, verify the building can withstand the expected winds. If not, do your best to have the boat relocated before the storm hits. We’ve all see the photos out of texas of the collapsed storage rack – don’t let your boat be a victim.

If you are not able to get your boat out of the water, it should be secured in a snug, safe harbor. Additionally consider the storm surge where a surge of 10ft or more is common and therefore may trump the protection of things normally adequate such as seawalls. Make sure to properly anchor your boat, taking into consideration the high winds and rough water as you make your preparations. If you are securing your boat to a dock, additional lines are needed in order to ensure your boat is not swamped or thrashed around. BoatUS does an excellent job of describing how to properly secure a boat in their Hurricane Warning Brochure. They also have a great collection of articles, checklists, and how-to’s on their website here.

After the storm passes and you are able to get back to your boat, proceed with caution. Marinas and docks are extremely treacherous after a storm and should be navigated as such. Remember to bring some sort of tape to seal cracks/holes and secure broken pieces as well as a notebook and camera to record damages. Make sure to contact your insurance agent immediately once assessing the damage to find out what they need to start the claim process. Looting is common after a storm so remove anything that could easily be stolen. If your boat is usable, pat yourself on the back for adequate preparations and thank your lucky stars. If you decide to take the boat out, be sure to navigate with care. Many large items and debris become submerged and after the storm surge recedes, they could cause serious damage to your vessel as you navigate murky water. Also, carefully inspect the hull to ensure it did not suffer stress cracks or more serious punctures that aren’t immediately obvious.

Although there is never a guarantee of complete safety, by taking proper precautions, you can minimize damage to not only your boat, but other boats and close by homes. And remember, #BoatsCantTalk #BoatHistoryReport

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