Boating Life

Keeping your Boat Safe During a Hurricane

event
August 31, 2023
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Ingman Marine
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Boat Safety
Helpful Tips
event
August 31, 2023
person_pin
Ingman Marine
label
Boat Safety
Helpful Tips

As Floridians, especially those that love boating, we are all too familiar with the dangers that hurricanes can pose. When it comes to our most prized possessions, we want to make sure we are fully prepared in case the worst happens. Keeping your boat safe during a hurricane is no exception. Prior to the start of hurricane season, we recommend that boat owners develop a plan for their boat because waiting until the last minute could be catastrophic. Below we will advise you on the details that should be a part of said plan.

Plan

First and foremost, we like to remind boaters to check their insurance policy every year. You want to ensure that your coverage aligns with your boat’s value and is adequate for potential hurricane-related damages. We cannot stress this enough, because many insurance agencies will not allow you to update your policy if it is within a few days of a known natural disaster. If you are unsure of any of the details of your policy and its coverage, reach out to your insurance agency/professional. Once you become aware of a possible hurricane threat, take pictures and/or videos of your boat and create a thorough inventory of all your boating equipment and accessories so that you are prepared in the event that you have to file a claim.

You and your family should also practice boat evacuation drills annually so that you can secure your boat in a timely manner and work out any kinks to avoid last minute panicking. This includes a plan for where your boat will be stored during a hurricane. We recommend bringing it ashore or storing it at a marina that lies outside of the projected path. This is why it is incredibly important to monitor the weather forecasts when a hurricane is headed towards Florida. Almost all Florida residents know how quickly hurricanes can change course, so staying informed is the only way to make sure your boat will be safe.

Storing on Land

It is also a good idea to research marinas in your area and possible evacuation areas for those that offer hurricane-rated facilities. If you are unable to relocate your boat out of the storm’s projected path, or its new location ends up being in its new path (in the case that the hurricane shifts), you’ll feel better knowing that at least the storage facility can withstand some hurricane damage.

If you prefer to keep the boat with you, do your research on the best ways to protect the boat from damage. You’ll want to keep it as far inland as possible and away from anything that could produce debris or fall onto the boat. Storing it in a garage or storage unit is ideal.

Despite all the preparation associated with storing your boat on land, we do feel that it is the best way to keep your vessel safe.

Storing in Water

As much as we would love to have every boat owner store their boat on land, in a hurricane-proof structure, we completely understand that this is not always possible. So, if this is the case for you, we recommend taking some additional precautions. Start by reinforcing the mooring and docking systems with double line, preferably storm grade, and the proper chocks, cleats and strong attachment points. If any of your lines or secure points are worn or damaged, you’ll want to replace them. You may also want to consider using chafe protection to prevent damage during high winds. If the boat is moored, you’ll want at least 2 anchors, each with a line length of 10 times the water depth.

Next, you’ll want to protect your boat from the number one hurricane threat – storm surge. Because of the risk of rising water levels, we advise that you install bilge pumps and a bilge alarm system. If you already have these, just double check that they are in working order. It is also recommended that you seal through-hull fittings, hatches, windows and ports for watertightness; cover the vents in the engine room; and plug exhaust pipes in the stern.

Another risk that some boat owners are not aware of is power outages. Power outages and surges can cause damage to the electrical systems and interfere with the bilge pumps, so you’ll want to have a portable generator or inverter with battery bank on hand. Keep extra fuel – in a safe place, away from the boat – at your disposal for the generator.

Lastly, depending on where the boat is stored, you’ll want to position the bow in the direction of prevailing winds if possible, and consider adding fenders or fender boards to protect the sides of the boat from hitting any structure.

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Prep Your Boat

In addition to the steps mentioned above, you’ll want to remove anything that is not permanently attached from the boat, such as dinghies, cushions, electronics, valuables, paddles, toys, dishes, etc. and store them safely on land. This also includes any important documents, such as licenses and insurance policies. Next, you’ll want to remove antennas, sails and/or canvas covers to prevent excess windage. Then, check the wheels, tillers and booms to be sure they are secured, and use marine-grade straps to fasten the boat to the trailer or cradle

After the Storm

Once it is safe to do so, you’ll want to go check on the condition of your boat. Thoroughly inspect for any damage or leaks, hull breaches and electrical issues. Check the bilge pumps and engine fuel systems for damage or debris. Any issues will need to be remedied as soon as possible to prevent additional damage or deterioration. While inspecting, take pictures of anything that is not normal and then clean up any messes, both inside and out.

If you have significant damage or your boat is sunk or breached, get in touch with your insurance agency for advice on next steps.

Final Words

Being a boat owner in Florida can seem daunting when a hurricane is approaching, but it doesn’t have to be. Put together a diligent hurricane preparedness plan, with checklists, emergency numbers, evacuations routes, etc. so that you and your family can follow along easily and remain calm during tense moments. Use each hurricane season to learn from any mistakes of previous years and further improve upon your plans.

Stay informed throughout the duration of hurricane season, especially when one is heading towards the state. Reach out the professionals if you have any questions or concerns, and always remember that Ingman Marine is here to help!

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