Tracking the Tropics
WSVN -- If you put off protecting your boat until the clouds roll in, you've waited too long. Marine experts say you have to start early.
Michael Hankins: "Definitely don't want to wait until the storm is two days away."
You should already have a plan for where your boat will ride out the storm. If you can, get it out of the water, away from the high winds and battering waves.
Michael Hankins: "It's the optimal place to keep it completely out of the weather."
An enclosed storage facility is perfect but keep in mind spots are limited and they fill up quickly.
Michael Hankins: "If someone calls us within two days after the storm has been named, then we have an ability to get them, brought into the building and give them a dedicated slot."
Many people keep boats on a trailer at home, if you can put it in the garage.
Diana McCune: "If it's your car or your boat, a small boat is more likely to get thrown around in high winds. You'd want to put that in the garage and keep your car out."
But if outside is your only option, secure your boat tightly to the trailer.
Diana McCune: "You have your forward strap, you would also want to put another strap mid-ship."
Then, block the wheels of the trailer with concrete or wood. For additional protection, tie the trailer to a concrete pillar or sturdy tree but steer clear of large branches overhead.
And, finally, remove important paperwork, expensive electronics and loose items that might blow away.
If your boat will be riding out the storm at a marina, find out if the marina manager has a hurricane plan ahead of time.
Diana McCune: "Start preparing as soon as you know that the storm is approaching."
Gear may be in short supply, so buy it early. You'll need long double lines that have some spring in them so your boat can ride with the storm surge.
Diana McCune: "They're bouncing up and down, the rope is being pulled constantly."
Use what's called chafe gear to keep the lines from breaking, such as a garden hose or tape. Criss-cross the lines across the vessel to try to keep it in place.
Diana McCune: "You want center lines, bow lines and stern lines to keep your boat in the middle of the slip."
An expert says, use what's known as a bowline, knot which will pull tight and unloosen easily.
Diana McCune: "Take the end of your knot, wrap it around, go around the line and pull it through."
Tie the lines to pillars or cleats on the dock. Clear drains of debris and make sure bilge pumps are working, and don't forget to seal doors and hatches.
Diana McCune: "You'll want to tape everything down, so that they don't blow open throughout the storm."
Carmel Cafiero: "If your boat is not going to be on a trailer or in a marina there are options on the water."
Long lines and large anchors can be used to secure a boat in the middle of a canal.
Diana McCune: "Make sure that your bow is facing out towards where the wind is, so that way, the waves and the action, your boat still rides it like you are supposed to."
If you have to move your boat. Keep in mind the bridges close early.
In Broward, bridges are locked down three and a half hours after an evacuation order is issued, or when winds reach tropical storm force, whichever comes first.
In Miami-Dade, bridges will be locked down six to eight hours before tropical storm force wind gusts are predicted to arrive.
Securing your boat is only part of protecting it. You also need insurance.
Dulce Suarez-Resnick: "Make sure you have adequate coverage. Make sure you understand what the deductibles are under your policy."
Insurance experts say many policies have a special hurricane deductible and it can be high.
Dulce Suarez-Resnick: "If you don't understand what that translates into in dollars, you might have a big surprise the day you put in a claim."
Check to see if you have insurance coverage for towing and salvage, and for high value vessels like yachts, you should have pollution coverage.
You should take pictures or video of your boat to prove you secured it, and then get off of it.
You should never ride out a storm on a boat.
Diana McCune: "It's not safe for you to be on your vessel, and it's not safe for the people that may have to come out and rescue you."
Because no boat is worth risking your life.