When a tropical storm or hurricane affects Florida, boat owners and operators have to worry about more than just their homes and families.
Palm Cove Marina Lift Operator Robert Haugland said there are a little less than 400 boats docked at his marina and about 30 people who live on boats docked there.
“Like it is every year, we will know a few days ahead of time whether or not we need to pack up and move for a minute or if it’s going to pass over and be a bunch of rain,” Haugland said. “Boaters pay attention to the weather more than the average person will.”
Boat owner Dave Roberts admitted, in the end, once you’re prepared, you just have to wait.
“Really there’s not a whole lot you can do. It is Mother Nature,” he said.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has gathered resources to help boaters prepare for storms and deal with the aftermath.
The Coast Guard Sector Jacksonville set the port of Jacksonville and Fernandina conditions to Whiskey Saturday due to Tropical Storm Ian’s fore winds being projected to arrive within 72 hours.
Those ports and facilities are currently open to all commercial traffic and all traffic operations may continue while Whiskey remains in effect.
Move your vessel if you can and protect it if you can’t.
- If your boat can be trailered, haul it out of the water and move it to a safe location as far from tidal waters as possible.
- If your vessel must stay in a marina berth, double all lines and rig-cross spring lines fore and aft and attach lines high on pilings to allow for tidal rise or surge.
- If your vessel is at anchor, move to the most protected area possible and set out multiple anchors with at least a 10:1 scope, remove canvas coverings if possible and remove or secure any sails.
- If your vessel will remain on a mooring, make sure the mooring is designed to withstand the load that will be placed on it by your vessel. Inspect chains and swivels that connect to the mooring buoy and double up on the mooring pendant.
- Use the Florida Boat Ramp Finder to find a ramp near you.
Cover all lines to prevent chafing.
- Wrap all lines where lines feed through chocks with tape, rags and rubber hoses or leather. Install fenders, fender boards or tires to protect the boat from rubbing against the pier, pilings or other boats.
Charge batteries and make sure they can run automatic bilge pumps throughout the storm.
- Consider adding backup batteries and shut off all other devices that consume electricity.
Do not stay onboard.
- During a hurricane, winds can exceed 100 mph and tornadoes are often associated with these storms. If you’re on board during a bad storm, you are risking your life.
- Learn what Florida law says about mandatory marina evacuations. Chapter 327.59, F.S., Marina Evacuations.
Monitor weather broadcasts frequently and comply with evacuation orders when issued.
- Storm tracking using the Weather Authority at News4JAX.com.
- Follow FloridaDisaster.org.
After the storm, report issues to the FWC.
- Marina eligibility for disaster relief through Small Business Administration loans. SBA Disaster Assistance.
- Report storm damaged boats that might be lost or abandoned to your local law enforcement agency (preferred) or the FWC Division of Law Enforcement at 888-404-3922.
For more information visit MyFWC.com/boating and click on the “Hurricane Boating Preparedness Tips” slider.