Acker Marine Survey Co.|
Thirty Years Of Integrity
Serving The Florida Keys
From Key West to Key Largo
Anthony Acker, SAMS® SA
ABYC Standards Certified Technician,
Principal Marine Surveyor
Dewey Acker, SAMS® AMS® - RET,
Senior Marine Consultant
This article was published in the Middle Keys Marine Association Newsletter on July 10, 2004
"I have my boat insured. I don't have to worry about a storm. It would be an Act of God anyway."
I have heard boat owners say that before. Many people actually feel that way, especially when there is a new named storm on the horizon and they are in Boring, Connecticut with their boat behind their Florida Keys home. The fact of the matter is you do have to worry about your boat, no matter how thoroughly it is insured.
The U.S. Congress has defined act of God as an "Unanticipated grave natural disaster or other natural phenomenon of an exceptional, inevitable, and irresistible character, the effects of which could not have been prevented or avoided by the exercise of due care or foresight." (33 U.S.C. 2701)" Due care and foresight are the operative words here. A South Florida appellate court said in 1967 "hurricanes are not beyond reasonable anticipation."
If the storm is coming, you can't just leave your boat alone without at least taking some precautions. If more boat owners did take better precautions before the arrival of a storm, chances are good that marine insurance premiums would be lower for everyone. And if a boat owner does not take due care of his vessel when a hurricane is on its way, he may find his insurance company unwilling to pay for damage to other property or the cost of environmental cleanup.
When a storm is getting close, get your boat out of the water, if possible. Some boats also get damaged while dry-docked in a boat yard, but the odds are still better if dry-docked. It also prevents your boat from coming loose from her mooring and damaging other boats and property in the process.
Remove all canvas and anything else on deck that presents excess windage. A roller-furling jib on a sailboat is one of the first things to tear away in a wind storm. Outriggers on a sport fisherman can also become flying objects. They bend real well in a storm.
Batten down the hatches. Many boaters are used to leaving overhead hatches and opening ports unsecured. If it is not latched or dogged down, a hurricane force wind will find a way to open it, then rip it off.
Consider relocating your boat to the middle of a canal if you live on one. Your neighbors may not mind if you double up your lines and use their cleats to keep as far away as possible from any seawalls. Use chafing gear where the lines can potentially rub against any abrasive object, such as the seawall, pilings or even other boats. Always try to make the mooring lines fast to a properly anchored cleat. Do not tie directly to pilings if possible.
After the storm has passed, undo the storm preparations you have taken that may cause your boat to prevent or hamper navigation. Just because your neighbor did not mind your boat in the middle of his canal during the storm, he will not appreciate your leaving it there for an extended period.
If you have a trailerable boat get it out of the water and on its trailer. You may even want to consider lowering the air pressure in the trailer tires temporarily. Adding fresh water to the inside of the hull after disabling your automatic bilge pump(s) will also give the boat more stability on a trailer, but be careful not to fill the hull to the level of any equipment or storage batteries that can be damaged. Tie the boat to its trailer and tie the trailer down as best you can.
There are many folks who have homes and boats in the Florida Keys, but spend the warmer time of the year back home up north. It is imperative that you have a trusted friend or handyman in the Keys who can make the proper storm preparations on your behalf. An ounce of prevention ...
Submitted by Dewey T. Acker, SAMS® AMS® - RET