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Hurricane Preparation for Boats

Preparing Your Boat for a Hurricane 

Trailer Boats and Cars.
Get permissions now to store your spare car and trailer boat in a commercial garage or warehouse. An alternative is to store them on the first or second floor of a multi-story parking garage behind a wall or parallel to the inside wall. An example would be the Waldemere parking garages next to Sarasota Memorial Hospital.  Boats stored in yards should be behind a protective wall if possible, have the transom facing the wind, tires deflated and blocked, the bilge filled with water to add weight, and the boat and trailer tied to the base of trees. With the transom facing the wind, the wind will tear off the windshield but that is the lesser of the evils. If the bow faces into the wind, the wind will act like a giant wave, pick up bow and trailer and flip and roll the boat.

Boat Yards.
Try to get permission now to have your boat hauled in the event of a hurricane. Most boatyards are probably already booked. Call now to see if your insurance company will pay to have your boat hauled Your insurance company will not allow you to increase your coverage if a named storm exits. Boatyards will probably be underwater due to storm tides

Dock Boxes.
Attached your dock boxes to the docks with large stainless steel washers and lag bolts. Cut holes in the bottom of your dock boxes to allow water in to prevent the boxes from tearing through the lag bolts and floating or being blown away.

Docked Boats.
Plan on a full day of work trying to prepare your boat for a hurricane and another day of work preparing your home. And you still have the evacuation traffic problem.

Double every dock line and use chafing material.
This must be done now before you go north. Use adequate size dock lines. Attach each dock line to a different location (lift rings, heavy railings) than the first dock line in the event a cleat pulls out. Place a large anchor 100 ft. out in the canal or marina behind or to the side of the boat in order to try to keep the boat off the dock and out of the parking lot. Remove all boat top canvass, sails, radars and lower and tie down all Bimini-top rails. Tie down, lock and duck-tape (use many multiple vertical strips) all hatch covers to try to prevent them from being blown open and ripped off. Everything loose (ice chests, electronics, cushions, fishing rods,) must go below or in the house. Make sure your batteries and float switches work. Make sure you have insurance coverage to repair or salvage your boat. If you have a large boat, call your boat yard in advance of the storm to get on the waiting list. Many people do. You can always cancel.

Kayaks. canoes, inflatables, canvass and any loose items must be removed from the storage racks and stored in your home. Otherwise the racks are going to overturn, the boats will be damaged by flying debris and may become flying missiles.


Boat Lifts.
Lift boat up above storm surge. Open the drain plug. Tie down all four corners. I have no experience with boat lifts.

It’s a poor idea to store your boat in the large high-rise boat storage facilities such as the ones in Cortes or Sara Bay. Similar storage facilities have collapsed in hurricanes and crushed every boat inside.

Do not call from up north and ask your friends to help prepare your boat. They do not have time. They have four days of work to accomplish in two days once it is certain that the storm is going to hit or pass close by. And they still have to find lodging and the traffic evacuation problems.

Note: The above is based on a lifetime of living in South Florida and getting numerous boats through many hurricanes.

Cliff Root  941-383-1269