A large number of area residents have boats. Some people keep them in the canals, and some keep them on trailers.

When hurricane season comes around, most people are focused on securing their homes but they shouldn't forget their boats.

People who live on boats should NOT stay aboard. Winds during any hurricane can exceed 100 mph, and tornados are often associated with these storms.

How to secure

When it comes to the trailerable boats, some people just use the webbing that is attached to the winch and a small strap at the stern. Consider finding a few large ratchet straps and place one across the stern in front of the engine and one midship. Attach the hooks to each side of the trailer and cinch down.

Some people have tie-down points in the side of the yard that they use to  attach.

You also can drive temporary tie-down stakes into the ground in a pinch. Just be sure to check with FP&L, the phone company or other utilities to make sure you don't not accidentally drive them into buried cables or piping. Lengths of rebar with hooks or loops bent into them also work well for tie down stakes.

Dry dock

Another option is dry dock. Dry stack storage facilities built in recent years should be sturdy enough to handle winds up to 140 mph. Facility operators will have gear on hand to properly to secure your vessel.

One of the worse ways to secure your boat is on a lift or davits.

Pilings can snap, causing the vessel to fall into the water or puncture your vessel’s hull with the lower portion of the piling. If one side of the lift fails, you run the risk of your vessel getting wedged against the pilings and then you have to worry about the hull getting damaged and having water flood it.

You also have to worry about the lift swaying because of the wind. This could cause damage to the lift as well as the vessel.

Canal living

If you live on a narrow canal with few boats, talk with nearby homeowners to see if it is OK to tie off to pilings at their docks.

Tie your vessel to deadman anchors in the ground if they are available.

Make sure all securing points are strong as well as chafe and corrosion free.

When running lines to pilings, try to use a system that will rise and fall with the vessel. 

Try not to put your lines around palm trees, as they tend to get blown over because they do not have a large root system.

If need be, you can put anchors out into the canal and use those to help keep your vessel off the dock and more toward the center of the canal. Do this before you evacuate the area, as some boats may need to pass by your dock. Leave enough slack in the lines for the vessel to rise and fall with the tidal surge.

Avoid chafing

Make sure that you have chafing gear in place for any vessel that is not on a trailer. As the lines get stressed and or rub on the vessel, they heat up and will cause the line to start to break down and break.

Avoid putting knots in any of your lines, as it will be one of the areas that is affected by stress and heat.

Some boaters keep their boats at anchor. Your boat may be able to ride out a storm if you prepare for it properly. You will want to fan out three anchors leading to a swivel that is then secured to your vessel via the anchor rope.

Some people tie onto mooring balls. Talk to the folks in charge of them to find out what they are made of and what they are rated for. Not all mooring systems are created equal.

Please do not attempt to ride the storm out on your boat!

If you have a problem, it will be next to impossible for help to get to you and it could be a rough and life-threatening swim to shore. Secure your boat and head for a shelter or other safe place.

Boater responsibility

Ultimately, you are responsible for your vessel if it breaks free.

A boat drifting around during a storm can damage docks, boats or bridges, and if they leak fuel or oil, the wildlife in and around the water can be affected.

Keep all records, including insurance papers, recent photos of the vessel, registration, equipment inventory and agreements, with your other important documents in a secure, waterproof container.


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