"Weakened" Hurricane Systems Harm Boats Far Inland, Too

Published online: May 28, 2009 News
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ALEXANDRIA, Va., May 28, 2009 - Historically, whenever a hurricane comes ashore along the Gulf or Atlantic coasts that's where the most damage is found. But even though a tropical storm system weakens significantly as it moves over land, it will often continue to carry a significant punch over a wide area inland -- possibly hundreds of miles from landfall. With the start of the 2009 hurricane season June 1, BoatU.S. says inland boat owners should take these storms seriously and make preparations, even though the system may no longer be classified as a hurricane.

"Hurricane Ike, which ravaged the Texas coast last year, is a good example," said BoatU.S. Marine Insurance Technical Director Bob Adriance. "Though it was officially downgraded to a tropical depression soon after coming ashore, a combination of unrelenting wind and heavy rain continued to damage boats all the way up into Canada. One-fourth of the Ike claims filed with BoatU.S. Marine Insurance came from outside Texas -- including states such as Michigan, Illinois, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania. As they move inland, these storm systems have been known to dangerously swell creeks and rivers, sweeping entire marinas downriver," added Adriance.

Here are some tips from BoatU.S. to help inland boaters prepare for this 2009 hurricane season which continues through November 30:

1. Know the storm-worthiness of your marina, and be prepared to respond by removing your boat to high ground. Some marinas and private slips or docks on rivers are vulnerable to flash flooding. While freshwater lakes do not have a problem with wind-driven storm surge, rains can quickly raise lake levels and those dockage facilities in exposed locations can also get hit hard by wind and wave action.

2. Boats in the water at a marina or private dock should have extra lines with chafe protection added. Fenders and fender boards may also help. 

3. Clear cockpit scuppers (deck drains) of any debris so rainwater will drain freely. Make sure your batteries are fully charged and your bilge pump is operating properly.

4. Remove "windage" items like cockpit biminis, dodgers and sails. These items are easily damaged in high winds. They also add undue strain to mooring or dock lines. If your boat is in a covered slip, lower and secure antennae and outriggers.

5. For boats on moorings, ensure all ground tackle is in top condition and chafe protection is added to prevent a breakaway.

Boaters can get some free hurricane preparation help, including a hurricane preparation worksheet
, an in-depth Guide to Preparing Boats and Marinas for Hurricanes, and checklists for what to do before and after a hurricane strikes, go to the BoatU.S. "Hurricane Resource Center" at http://www.BoatUS.com/Hurricanes. The web site also helps boaters monitor incoming storms with up-to-the-minute storm tracking tools with live satellite imagery.

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