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Gearing Up for a Possible Storm in 2012

HurricaneWindsThe most important tip for protecting a boat against hurricane weather is to plan in advance. Although coastal cities and towns are the most affected by hurricane weather, the eye of the storm can bring damaging winds to inland areas. Every boat owner with a vessel moored or docked at a recreational harbor should have a hurricane plan and review it at the start of every boating season. Many Virginia and Texas boat docks, as well as recreational harbors in other coastal states, have hurricane plans that occupants should know.

Most recreational harbors are crowded. In a storm surge, vessels are likely to collide with other docked vessels. Whenever possible, they should be removed from the water when hurricane weather threatens and stored in a garage or other covered area. If they must be left outdoors, then the trailer frame should be positioned on concrete blocks so that the weight of the vessel is carried by the frame. The drain plug should also be installed, and the vessel should be partially filled with water. Most fiberglass hulls are designed to withstand this additional weight. Wooden hulls typically are not designed for such weight, and wooden-hulled vessels should be tied down with multiple mobile home anchors and the drain plug should be left out.

All harbors and boat dock construction parameters have different strengths and weaknesses. If the harbor provides a strong degree of protection, owners may decide to leave the vessel docked. If so, then all docking lines should be doubled, and lines should be covered with rubber hose, then cloth, then commercial tape wherever they pass through a fairlead and chock, or wherever they pass over the side of the vessel. Lines should be tied to the upper end of pilings rather than dock cleats, and plenty of fenders should be set to protect the hull from collisions.

If the mooring tackle is worn by less than one third of its original thickness, and if it meets the safety standards for the vessel, then owners may choose to leave the vessel moored in the harbor or in a nearby hurricane hole. The mooring scope for any vessel moored during a hurricane should be at least 7-to-1. Sheltered hurricane holes with shoreline stabilization in place are well-known and popular spots during storms.

A qualified boat dock builder will likely be able to recommend a dock design for hurricane-prone areas. Before the next boating season comes around, boat owners should ask three important questions: Is my hurricane plan up to date? Does my harbormaster have a hurricane plan for me? Is the dock I use designed to withstand expected storm surges?

Do you feel prepared for possible storms in 2012?

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