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Protecting your boat during a hurricane

Updated: Friday, June 7 2013, 09:21 AM CDT
Scenes like this of damage to boats after Hurricane Ivan can be surprising. But when hurricanes bring storm surges of several feet, boats can be tossed around like they're in a giant washing machine.

So what can you do to protect your boat if a hurricane threatens?
   
'The best thing to do is just to pull them out of the water and get them up on dry land, that's a good elevation so you don't have to worry about tidal surge, and get them anchored and properly secured," said John Naybor of Pensacola Marinas.

Everyone loves to spend time out on the water in a boat, but when winds and water combine in a hurricane, they can become dangerous. Pensacola has an estimated 2,000 boats in the water during the summer months.  Local boat yards can only accommodate a few hundred at any given time.The rest have to be removed from the area, or stay somewhere in the water.  The goal is to  secure them.

"Double-tie your lines to be sure they are secure," Naybor said. "Make sure you don't have old, chaffed lines on the boat.  Get everything that you can off so it's not going to blow off the boat.  Just make sure it's secure and properly tied.  You want to get it in as safe a place as you possibly can."

"If you live on a canal, you can move the boat out into the center of the canal and have lots of ropes tying it out so there's plenty of length on the ropes so if you have a tidal surge the boat will go up and down so the ropes won't snap or break any pilings," Naybor said.
   
Naybor says the biggest challenge they face each season is complacency.

"Right after Ivan and Dennis everybody was down here, on their boats, pulling the bimini's down, tying stuff up, what can I do to help, you know, and getting ready for the storm.  Well, seven years later, not so much," Naybor said.

The best plan is to actually have a plan, and know when to put it in place.

"It's like putting shutters on your house, do i put the shutters up or do i not put the shutters up?  So at some point you have to make the decision, what's my boat worth to me and how much preparing do I want to do?" Naybor said.

After Hurricane Ivan, Naybor had one million dollars in uninsured losses to the marinas.  He says he doesn't underestimate any storm that comes this way.

"We take it very seriously and hopefully other people will."

Naybor says the best advice he could give would be to plan enough time to do what you need to do for your home and your boat because once the wind and waves kick up, it might be too late.

Protecting your boat during a hurricane


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