Hurricane Preparedness, Response & Revovery

Hurricane Preparedness, Response & Recovery

The 4 Common Dangers

Wind - A tropical storm becomes a hurricane when the sustained winds exceed 65 knots (75 mph), but that's only a start. The steady winds in a Category Five hurricane are more than 136 knots (156 mph!) and gusts can reach into the 200 mph range! But even a tropical storm with gusts of 70 mph is enough to flip your boat off its trailer.

Rain – Hurricanes have been known to dump 10 to 20 inches an hour, which might overwhelm your cockpit drains.

High Water or Storm Surge - Raises the local water level to as much as 20 feet above the highest tides, and can literally uproot the strongest marina or damage a boat that seemed to be on high ground.

Flying Debris - High wind speeds turn loose objects into flying debris, and everything from entire roofs to smaller projectiles such as barbecues, garbage cans and sheets of corrugated steel are deadly to humans and boats alike.

Preparedness

  • Become familiar with Storm Alarms and special alert signals
  • Discuss Marina Readiness Program and your responsibility.
  • Determine if the boat will remain at berth, move to safe anchorage, or transit by land or water away from the storm. (It is not advisable to wait out the storm at sea)
  • If using a trailer, ensure it is accessible and in proper operating condition. Check tires (including spare), wheel bearings, brakes if so equipped, towing hitch & lights.
  • If the boat will be moved, determine length of time for transit and safe return.
  • Develop a list of emergency or additional equipment needed including extra mooring lines, anchors, chain, chaffing gear fenders, anchors, swivels, shackles, duct tape, wood plugs (exhaust ports).
  • Review needs and working condition of all emergency equipment such as flashlights, first aid kit, batteries for radios, etc.
  • List equipment to be removed from the boat and its storage location; electronics, dingy, outboard, sails, personal effects, etc.
  • Thoroughly inventory your boat before the storm
  • Learn the average storm surge and elevation for your area.
  • Keep all legal documents, registration, insurance policy, marina rental agreements, boat title, etc in one container kept in another location other than the boat.

 Response

  • Frequently monitor radio, television, NOAA weather radio, weather channel, or hurricane hotline to monitor the storm’s progress. Determine the position of the storm, wind direction, speed and estimate time to your location.
  • Implement your Marina’s Hurricane Response Responsibilities
  • Communicate on a routine basis with your marina to determine evacuation time.
  • Remove all extraneous and personal items from the boat to a safe storage area.
  • If evacuation by land or sea, departure should occur at the 36 hour hurricane watch period. If by water, sufficient time needs to be planned into the evacuation based on the speed of the vessel and the storm.
  • Secure all loose gear above and below decks. Secure all hatches, close all ports and windows. Pump all bilges dry. Tape board and wedge sliding glass doors to prevent shattering and lifting from their tracks. Plug exhaust ports.
  • Disconnect all power and water lines from the boat.

For Trailered Boats

*If your boat is trailerable, the best protection is to drive it far enough outside the storm's path where no damage can be done. Your next best choice is to park the boat inside a sturdy garage and hope that the structure remains undamaged.

 If you are unable to place your boat in a safe area, make sure to:

  •  Stay away from trees and power lines.
  • Don't park in the space between two buildings.  It can turn into a funnel for wind and debris.
  • To steady your trailer, let some air out of the tires, block the wheels and secure the trailer to nearby trees.
  • Drive lengths of rebar steel reinforcing into the ground, and use those to tie your boat down in all directions.

For Boats In the Water

* If you have no choice but to leave your boat in the water, please take extra precautions. Many marinas have rules that tenants must leave in severe storms, so locate your hurricane hole long before the storm season approaches.

  •  Avoid anchoring if at all possible.
  • Double or triple your dock lines (use lines long enough to allow your boat to move vertically without hitting the pier, and use several spring lines in all directions to keep the boat centered).
  • Secure your boat to solid pilings on the piers, spread the loads to as many cleats on your boat as possible and, if you can, use towing eyes in the hull as additional attachment points.
  • Slip width should be at least 140% of the beam of your boat. Wider slips allow you to tie your boat well off the docks and reduce damage done by your boat ramming against nearby boats or falling on pilings after being lifted by a storm surge.
  • Pilings should be at least 6 feet above the highest gunwale point. Short pilings will puncture the hull of your boat if it comes crashing down after being lifted by a storm surge.
  • Be sure the batteries are fully charged so you'll have plenty of power for your bilge pumps, and make sure there is no debris in the bilge that might clog your pumps.
  • Check that your neighbors' boats are correctly tied. If they're not, your boat will likely pay the price. 

 Recovery

  • After the storm has passed and when safe to venture as directed by emergency services, contact the marina and determine when the boat can be returned to it original berth.
  • Carry proof of boat ownership.
  • Complete a post storm inspection determining the extent and types of damage.
  • Notify and meet if required with the insurance carrier or representative to discuss claim and restoration process. Take all reasonable steps to protect the boat from further damage. Leave salvage negotiations to the insurance company.
  • Protect all undamaged property and secure the boat as best as possible.
  • Do not start permanent repairs or dispose of damaged parts until the insurance company can inspect the damage.
  • Empty any water out of the bilges and check for leaks that may not be readily apparent.
  • Take pictures or videotape the "after" condition, making sure to fully document all damage to your boat. (both before you remove any debris as well after you've cleaned up the boat).
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