A Boater’s Guide to Hurricanes & Severe Weather Preparation
As most of you are aware there is a tropical system Hurricane Irma that will be impacting Florida in the next couple of days, and may impact our weather here in Georgia this weekend at least to some extent. It’s better to be safe than sorry, therefore we urge our boaters take appropriate precautions which include:
- Stow away all gear that can fly away in winds (tubes, paddle boards, etc.)
- Tie-down, move inside, or remove loose furniture, coolers, water toys, and other items which could become wind-borne and damage your boat or your neighbors’ or could blow overboard
- Deploy extra lines and fenders with at least 6 heavy lines (one at each corner plus two spring lines) securing the boat in all directions and more on larger boats
- Test your bilge pumps and ensure your battery is fully charged.
- Remove, retract, or otherwise secure canvas tops, flags, biminis, mooring covers etc. as these can rip or cause other damage during high wind
- In the event that your dock or marina loses power, a high priority beyond the safety of people and property, will be getting the power back on.
Please consider taking steps necessary for the boat to be without power for a period of time, especially if there is a high wind event. For example you may consider having enough fuel onboard to run your generator if necessary. We as a marina/company are preparing by tightening anchors, etc. Power may go off due to downed trees. Please follow our facebook pages for each marina for updates.
Harvey, Irma, Jose, Katia… the list of storms is growing as is the threat to boaters in the South, so ideally, you should have a hurricane plan in place for your vessel. The most important tip for protecting your boat from hurricanes or any threatening severe weather is planning, preparation, and timely action.
Of course, each boat is different and requires a unique plan for weathering the storm, but there are a few basic hurricane tips all boaters can use:
- Before a hurricane threatens, plan to remove valuable equipment from the boat (GPS, radios, etc) and determine how long it will take.
- Remove all movable equipment such as canvas, sails, dinghies, radios, cushions, biminis, or roller-furling, lifejackets, gear, etc.
- Lash down everything you cannot remove, such as tillers, wheels, booms, etc.
- Seal all openings (use duct tape or similar) to make the boat as watertight as possible.
- Make sure the electrical system is off. However, if you plan to leave the boat in the water, leave the system on.
- If removing the boat from water, remove the battery to eliminate the risk of fire.
- If you are out of town during a hurricane, arrange for a reliable person to learn and carry out your hurricane plan.
- Check your lease or rental agreement with the marina or storage area and make sure you know your responsibilities and liabilities as well as those of the marina or storage area.
- Consolidate all pertinent documents including insurance policies, recent photos or video of your vessel, boat registration, equipment inventory, lease agreement with the marina or storage area.
- Maintain an inventory list of both the items removed and those left on board. And remember, do not stay aboard any vessel during a hurricane or severe storm. You should stay in a safe, protected place and ensure your family, home, pets, and other personal property is safe. Be sure to stay tuned to news broadcasts and weather advisories.
Stay safe out there, everyone.
Stay tuned to the National Hurricane Center for more updates on Hurricane Irma.
Being a state along the Eastern Coastline, it’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when, you’ll have to deal with some direct or indirect affects associated with a hurricane. Now that the hard reality is out there, there are some things to keep in mind that can help you keep yourself safe and protect your property.
One of the reasons folks get into boating in the first place is to get away from the constant sensory input of today’s overly connected world. But if you live an area that’s exposed to hurricanes (or other extreme weather for that matter), you need to find a reliable and fast way to get the latest forecasts. Of all the things you can do to keep safe when you’re in the path of a hurricane, advance warning is, by far, the most effective.
Get Out Of The Way
For most recreational powerboats, many times the best solution is to pull the vessel and head inland. This reduces the impact of the initial storm surge and the accompanying rain and wind. The sooner the better on this because there will be lots of folks who either don’t or can’t move their boats in advance. Those folks will be the ones jammed onto the back roads and highways when mandatory evacuation orders are issued.
Batten Down The Hatches
For those boats that can’t be moved, it’s time to go old-school mariner and batten down those hatches. That phrase has survived modern times because it precisely describes what you need to do in a crisis situation. First, remove anything that’s not permanently part of the boat. That means cushions, toasters, life jackets, curtain rods and anything else that would fall off if the boat gets sideways. Leave them aboard and you not only risk losing them for good, but you could create dangerous projectiles for anyone or anything still hanging around during the worst parts of the storm. Use plenty of extra fenders, used tires or anything else that will absorb impact and lash them to the boat. Quadruple your normal line usage, springing to any and all potential contact points. Check that all hatches and portholes are secure and detach or cover windscreens. It also wouldn’t hurt to drop an anchor fore and aft and make sure they’re well set.
Don’t Try To “Ride” It Out
There seems to be some absolutely crazy theory floating around out there that you and your boat might be better off away from your marina, riding out the storm in open water. That is a misguided and misinformed idea. Yes, you are technically out of the way of more flying debris and your boat won’t be lashed to a “fixed” object like a dock when the indescribable physics of a hurricane are set in motion. Here’s the rub: YOU will be unnecessarily in harm’s way. There is NOTHING tough about riding out a furious storm on the water. Boats become a part of our lifestyles and identities, but they can ALWAYS be replaced.