We’ll never forget about the loss, damage and suffering caused by previous hurricanes; nor can we sit back and be glad that they are over because hurricane season will always come around and the storms appear to be getting stronger and more destructive. It is vital to secure your boat properly during this season and to be prepared for the worst. The following five hurricanes of the last twenty years have taught us plenty of lessons about hurricane season damage to boats, and the surrounding areas, and why they need to be remembered.
Some will say that Hurricane Katrina was a lucky break for the boating community because of the relative lack of damage to vessels in the water. However, there was a remarkable amount of destruction on land – particularly to beachfront towns that became 90% flooded. This shows how important it is to have a plan in place during hurricane season, because you never know exactly where the winds and tides will hit and at what force. Be sure to organize plans with plenty of time to spare and, and even consider backup plans in case the direction of the hurricane requires you to re-route original plans.
Sandy is a hurricane that still resonates in the hearts and minds of East Coast residents, because it is still so recent, presently visible, and it led to unprecedented damage. The Boat Owners Association estimates that 65,000 recreational boats were lost or damaged – 32,000 in New York and 25,000 in New Jersey – due to unforeseen high surge levels and watercraft at low elevations. When hurricanes are approaching it is a good idea to bring your vessel inland, if possible. At the least, bringing your boat into a waterway away from the coast is better than nothing, as waterways are less likely to see such heavy rises and falls in waves and tides. Be sure to remain considerate to other boat owners as to not block travel paths as to allow them to come inland too.
During this 2008 storm, Texas’ Interstate 45 at La Marque had to be closed, because boats and wrecked piers blocked the way. Avoiding hurricane season damage is not just about your own boat. The the safety of other vessels and properties has to be considered too. Move your boat away from built up areas, especially if you are in a crowded marina close to a city’s commercial districts or residential blocks to avoid excess damage to others.
This idea of damage to others as well as boats is also seen with Hurricane Andrew where the Miami landscape became full of twisted metal and shards of boats. One vessel even smashed through a glass-fronted building at Coconut Grove. We cannot underestimate the damage vessels can cause with their size and weight as they become loose cannons. Does your marina have a hanger? If so, look into securing your craft from the elements in there.
Finally, similar stories of hurricane season damage emerged in Florida in 2005 when boats broke free on rivers, smashing into each other and causing damage to other peoples’ property. We have to remember our responsibility as a boat owner; it is not a marina’s fault if your boat comes loose and causes damage, it’s our own responsibility. Tying down boats more securely ahead of time is a great start, but it is also advisable to bring the boat out of the water completely and secure it on a trailer for extra protection.