August 3, 2011 -
Tropical storm Emily threatens to strike Florida by this weekend; possibly as a minimal hurricane. Sea Tow Services International, the nation's largest marine assistance provider, and its network of Florida operators advise all boaters in hurricane zones to be prepared as the hurricane season enters what typically is its most active period – from about mid-August through September.
First, review your insurance policy with your provider. Make sure your policy is current and in force, and that you know what actions it requires you to take in the event of a storm.
Boat owners whose marine insurance requires them to relocate their vessels out of a hurricane zone should do so by the date specified in their policy.
Those who don't plan to relocate their boats should have a Storm Plan detailing where and how their boat must be secured during a hurricane. Your insurer may even require this. Boaters who live out of the area during the summer months should designate a responsible person to execute the Storm Plan in their absence.
Also, check the lease or dockage agreement with your marina, storage facility or private dock owner where your boat is moored to be sure the vessel can remain there during a hurricane. If it can stay, be sure you know the procedure for securing not only your vessel, but those docked around it, as well. A boat that breaks loose in a hurricane can wreak havoc on neighboring vessels.
Some facilities demand that boats be removed from the water when a major storm is forecast. Owners who must move their boats should decide where to have it hauled before the hurricane season begins. Don’t wait until a storm is imminent. Charges for storm haul-outs may be covered by your insurance policy.
Also, check with your local Sea Tow Florida franchise to see what pre-storm haul-out services are offered.
10 Additional Florida Boaters’ Tips for Hurricane Preparedness
-Closely monitor local and national weather services including NOAA Weather Radio.
-Make an inventory, preferably by video, of all valuable fixed items such as marine electronics on board your boat.
Store all the boat’s important documents, including your marine insurance policy, in a secure place off the vessel.
-When a storm is forecast for your area, remove all detachable items from your boat, such as canvas, sails, cushions, fishing rigging, radios and antennas. Lash down everything that you cannot remove, including booms, tillers, wheels, etc.
-Deflate your dinghy and store it and its outboard off the boat. If it’s a fiberglass dinghy, have it stored in an indoor facility.
-If your boat is on a trailer, lash it securely. Use tie-downs to anchor the trailer to the ground, let the air out of its tires and weigh down the frame.
-If your boat is in a facility with shore power, be sure all power is turned off and all shore power cords are stowed securely. Disconnect your boat’s battery.
-Boats docked in a marina or in a private berth should be centered in the slip. Double-up all dock lines and make sure they are of sufficient length to compensate for excessive high water.
-Anchored boats should ensure enough scope. Inspect all anchor rodes and chain and use only good or new gear. Set extra anchors as necessary.
-Do not stay with your boat or try to ride out a storm on board. No matter how valuable your vessel is to you—both financially and sentimentally—it’s not worth your life.