Batten down the hatches and check those Florida boat insurance policies: ‘tis the season of hurricane havoc. We’re hoping for a quiet storm season, but preparation is key. Know that your vessel is ready for whatever Mother Nature Version 2019 has in store. Scroll down our Boat To-Do List to the situation that matches yours – and get prepared for this hurricane season!
Before the storm
Photograph the vessel inside and out from all angles. Do you have a set of oversized mooring lines? If not, now is the time to purchase them. Check all deck cleats and line chocks. Are they the right size? Are they anchored properly to the deck? Find the multiple tie-off points and ensure they are properly secured/bolted. Are those automatic pumps in working order? If not, fix them with haste. Lastly, make a plan. Where will you take the boat if a storm system appears on the radar?
If your boat calls a marina home
Understand the marina’s hurricane plan and procedures. Familiarize yourself with their commercial marina insurance coverage. Know what you can do to prevent your vessel from becoming a liability.
Beware of the floating dock with the short pilings. Haul out is a good choice in this situation, as your boat could rise above those pilings during a strong storm and literally float away. If the pilings are tall and the area is well sheltered, remove all items that could create extra windage and add extra lines. Remember that fixed docks can pose more of a threat than those that float, as the lines may be unduly stressed. Haul out may be a good alternative in this situation as well.
Find trees or another stationary object nearby and tie that trailer down. While you’re at it, tie the actual boat to the trailer and, if you can, move the trailer inside a garage or warehouse. Have you considered taking the trailer with the boat attached while you evacuate? In 2017, this was a real option for some Texas boat owners who endured Hurricane Harvey. Some actually used their boats as a means of evacuation and search and rescue efforts.
Boats in a slip or on a dock
See those mooring lines? It’s time to use lines larger than your normal dock tie offs. Use those everyday dock lines as secondaries. Remember that if your boat is in a slip that the slip should be 140% the beam of the boat. Ensure that the boats upwind of yours are securely attached. If one looks iffy, try to find the boat owner and assist him/her. That boat could break free and crash into all the boats downwind – not a great scenario.
Boats on a lift
Adhere to the following lift storm rules: Run the lift as high as possible. Tie the lift to the pilings to eliminate sway. Be sure to cover motors with heavy plastic and secure accordingly. If that drain plug is not removed from the boat yet, do that. Otherwise, the boat could fill with water and become too heavy for lift capacity. Avoid becoming a common hurricane claim with a damaged boat and lift with these simple steps.
What to do after a storm – Call your insurance company’s 24-hour claims hotline. Do it as soon as possible if your damages may exceed the windstorm deductible. Expect to be given a claim number and an adjuster will be assigned to your loss. Additional questions should be directed to (you guessed it) your W3 Marine Insurance advisor. We’re here to help – so contact us!