When a hurricane is on the horizon, boat owners need to do more than batten down the hatches to get ready, according to an expert with the University of Florida.
Hurricane season starts June 1, but boaters in the sunshine state can take steps now to make sure their vessels don’t end up beached, underwater or in pieces, said Brittany Scharf, a Florida Sea Grant agent with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension in Hernando County.
“Prior to hurricane season, boat owners should develop a plan of action and practice this plan. Are you going to secure your vessel in a marina? Are you going to remove it from the water and secure it on land? Do you need to moor your vessel? What materials would you need to make this possible?” Scharf said.
“It is important to do a trial run of how you would secure your vessel so you will know how long it will take. Factor in possible road closures or low lying areas that may make your action plan difficult. Vessels will need to be moved 48 to 72 hours before a storm is predicted to hit an area,” she said.
“Overall, the best place for your boat during a hurricane is on dry land that’s far away from coastal areas,” Scharf said. “This is definitely easier to do with smaller boats, but these boats are also the most vulnerable to damage from a storm.”
Storing your boat in a garage or building is ideal, but if that’s not an option, the leeward side of a building will offer some protection, Scharf said. If you store your boat outside, place it away from trees and power lines.
“Boat owners should inspect the vessel’s hardware, lines, rigging, machinery and hull to make sure everything is in good working condition,” Scharf said.
“Make sure your insurance policy is current and that you know what your policy covers,” Scharf said.
How you physically secure your boat to prevent damage depends on how your boat will be stored during the storm, Scharf said. Boat owners have the option of trailering their vessel inland or securing it in the water.
Get the step-by-step for each method with this Florida Sea Grant video on preparing your boat for hurricane season.