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Secure boats as early as possible

By TIMES STAFF WRITER

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 30, 1999


Take action early -- don't wait until a hurricane warning is declared. The storm's fringe activity will make preparations difficult.

If your boat is stack-stored in dry storage and you have a trailer, consider securing the boat at home. If you have a trailer and are in an evacuation zone, consider taking the boat with you.

If your boat will remain in berth, before hurricane season check the strength of primary cleats, winches and chocks. They should have substantial back plates and adequate stainless steel bolts.

Double all lines, with rig crossing spring lines fore and aft. Attach lines high on piling to allow for tidal fall and rise or surge. Mooring line sizes: for boats up to 20 feet, 3/8-inch in diameter; 20-34 feet, 1/2-inch or larger; 35-55 feet, 5/8-inch or larger; 56 feet and longer, 3/4-inch or larger. Protect lines from chafing by covering rub spots with leather or old garden hose.

Seal all openings with duct tape to make the boat as watertight as possible.

Charge batteries for automatic bilge pumps.

Reduce dock or piling crash damage by securing old tires along the sides of the boat.

Remove loose gear from the deck. Store it securely inside or at home.

For a boat stored on a trailer, lash the boat and trailer down in a protected area. Let the air out of tires before tying the trailer down. Place blocks between the frame members and the axle inside each wheel. Secure with heavy lines to fixed objects from four directions, if possible.

If you prefer, remove the boat from the trailer and lash down each separately.

Remove the outboard motor, battery and electronics, and store them.

Small boats can be filled with water to give them added weight after lashing down.

If you like your boat more than you like your car, put the boat in the garage.

Sources: Federal Emergency Management Agency, University of Florida Cooperative Extension Service, St. Petersburg Municipal Marina

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