Preparing for a natural disaster can be stressful, there are so many important things to think of and consider. Taking time to prepare well in advance of an impending storm reduces risk to life and property. In addition to their loved ones and property, Florida’s boat owners and operators have more to be concerned about. The following informational resources have been gathered by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) to help boaters prepare for storms and to have a guide to deal with the aftermath.
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. This includes kayaks and other recreational watercraft.
• 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.
• Remember to remove Electronic Position Indicating Radio Beacons (commonly known as EPIRBs), life rings, lifejackets and loose items from the boat and store them in a safe, indoor location.
• 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 and do not venture out into rough conditions
• 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 and the lives of potential responders.
• 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
• Follow FloridaDisaster.org.
After the storm, report issues to the FWC
• Check 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.
• Call 911 or use VHF Marine Radio Channel 16 to report distress and other emergencies. Social media should not be used to report life-threatening distress due to limited resources to monitor the dozens of social media platforms during a hurricane or large-scale rescue events.
For more information visit MyFWC.com/boating and click on “Boater Education” and “Hurricane.”