Marine Surveyors and Consultants

Florida East coast call: 305-219-1336  Florida West coast call: 239-440-2675

 South Florida Marine Surveys

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West Coast office serving - Ft Myers, Cape Coral, Naples, Bonita Springs, Punta Gorda, Port Charlotte, Marco Island, Sarasota, Bradenton, Tampa, St Petersburg and surrounding areas.

East Coast office serving - Florida Keys, Miami, Ft Lauderdale, Boca Raton, Hallandale, Dania Beach, Pompano Beach, Lighthouse Point, Deerfield Beach, Delray Beach, West Palm Beach, Lake Worth and surrounding areas.


HOW TO PREPARE YOUR VESSEL FOR A HURRICANE


Securing your vessel:
  • First of all, throwing an extra line or two on is not enough. Step number one is to determine the best location in which to secure your pride and joy. Keep in mind the probability of storm surge and wind shifts. Storm surge can cause the water to rise from inches to many feet. Allow enough slack for the boat to rise with the surge and still not impact any pilings, docks or other vessels.
  • Use robust nylon line to provide stretch to absorb shock and secure the boat with line stretch in mind.Chaffing gear is a must. Use several different points to tie off. The result can resemble a spider web.
  • Take care to adjust the lines so that they come tight at about the same time from any one direction of pull so the load is evenly distributed. Do this by moving the boat around while securing it. Keep in mind that if you provide for the surge the lines will be loose but come tight before the boat hits the dock. The boat should be away from the dock. 

Should I Moor out?:
  • Many will argue about the safety of a mooring but we see few claims from properly secured boats moored out in protected areas.
  • The advantages are an easy ride up on the surge and less windage as the bow will always be into the wind and waves no matter their direction.
  • The disadvantages are that you are depending solely on the pendants and ground tackle and the possibility of other vessels getting loose and drifting thru the mooring field. Key factors are a good mooring, either drilled down or heavy is good here and a secure line or chain attaching it.  
  • You may not want to bring the chain on deck so you will use a pendant. Large, new and equipped with chaffing gear make sense here.
  • Leave plenty of scope and keep in mind that line with stretch will lessen the shock load so choose accordingly.

Keeping her afloat:
  • This can be different for every boat but there are a few things to consider.
  • Have at least two separate batteries running two separate bilge pumps.
  • Make sure that your batteries are in good shape. If they are getting weak then the approach of hurricane season is a great excuse to renew them.
  • Keep water out of the bilge. Most scuppers are simply too small especially when debris is added into the equation. During the height of the storm debris is flying and a lot of this this ends up in your boat. This debris can clog your scuppers 
  •  A common sink strainer fits upside down over many common little round deck scupper gratings to vastly improve the debris stopping capacity. Weigh them down with a few feet of common 5/16" chain piled on top. If you cant find a strainer just pile the chain over the scupper and it will serve as a strainer to keep the scupper free.
  • Run a line of duct tape over deck hatch seams, most hatches are not waterproof when submerged. 

Windage:
  • Remove everything you can to reduce winfage. During hurricane force winds the increased wind load puts incredible strain on the dock lines and can easily cause your boat to impact the dock. 
  • Remove the main sails and roller-furling jib on sailboats.  If it unwinds picture it flailing, loose clewed, tearing itself apart along with whatever gets in its way. 
Flying debris.
  • There isn't much to be done about the low flying mobile homes and screen enclosures that a truly tough storm tosses about.  Have a look around for loose stuff.
  • The beginning of Hurricane season is time to give the coconut palms a trim to reduce the size and number of missiles they supply.
  • Trash cans, loose lumber, lawn furniture; anything that can trash your paint job should be secured.
Boats on trailers.
  • Tow them to high ground if you can then the same windage rules apply.
  • Leave the plug out and the bow high enough to let her drain.
  • Taping the hatches is a good idea as well as covering the instruments with a tight fitting helm cover or taping them over. 
  • Tie the boat down and try to keep it somewhere away from those pesky falling trees. Right up against a building is a good thing.

If you have any questions about how to best prepare your vessel for a storm talk to a local boater who has been thru a few blows. You may get some local knowledge.

Captain Tom Eckhardt S.A.M.S. AMS
Marine Surveyor
 

East coast contact: Tom@marinementor.com   West coast contact: Kevin@marinementor.com