Boaters urged to prepare for Hurricane Frances

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – With the second major hurricane in less than one month expected to strike Florida this holiday weekend, Boat Owners Association of The United States is distributing advice to boaters on how to prepare for major storms.

In a recent press release, BoatU.S. said there are several things boaters can do to help their vessels ride out rough weather, including:

  • Keep it high and dry: Boats stored ashore are far more likely to survive than boats in the water. After the boats in its outer harbor were devastated in 1983 by Hurricane Alicia, the Houston Yacht Club responded by devising a comprehensive hurricane plan that includes the evacuation of all vessels.
  • Ensure your marina and boat is ready: There is a huge difference in how marinas prepare for a major storm. How well your marina is currently organized can tell you a lot about how well your boat will fare in the slip during a storm. Boats in poorly maintained, unorganized and cluttered marinas usually fare the worst in hurricanes.
  • Poorly sited marinas – those in unprotected areas, also face higher risks: When Hurricane Andrew decimated South Florida in 1992, most boats in the well-protected Coco Plum Marina survived. Marinas with floating docks and tall pilings also provide a safer solution than fixed docks as extra scope is not needed and docks will not float away over the pilings.
  • If you plan on leaving your boat in the water, be sure you’ll have everything you’ll need to secure it well in advance: If your plan is to leave it at a slip, take inventory of your dock lines, chafe protection and other items such as fenders and duct tape. After Hurricane Fran hit in 1996, the BoatU.S. Catastrophe Response Team estimated that as many as half the damaged boats at marinas could have been saved by longer and thicker dock lines and adequate chafe protection – the first items to sell out once a hurricane “warning” is posted.
  • Find the right ‘hole’: If you plan on moving your vessel to a hurricane hole – a canal, river or harbor that offers better protection – it’s important to remember that the storm surge may be ten feet high or greater. Seawalls and jetties that might otherwise protect your boat could be underwater. Plan on moving your boat early, as soon as a “warning” has been posted. Otherwise, you may find the best spots are already taken or that bridges have been locked down to evacuate automobiles.
  • Check your policy: An up-to-date insurance policy can mean success or failure in quickly returning the vessel to its pre-storm condition. Does your policy include all of your recently installed electronics or other upgrades?
  • Trailerable boats should be relocated as far as possible above the anticipated storm surge and made secure. Boats on storage racks, davits and lifts should be put on trailers and taken inland.
  • Read up: For more information on hurricane protection, BoatU.S. publishes a free brochure, Hurricane Warning: A Guide to Preparing Boats and Marinas for Hurricanes and includes a free Hurricane Planning Worksheet that takes boaters step-by-step through the storm preparation procedures. For both of these free valuable tools and for other information on hurricanes, visit the BoatU.S. Hurricane Center at or call 800-283-2883.
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