Have boaters forgotten about hurricanes?
Last year’s Atlantic hurricane season saw the formation of just nine tropical storms, the fewest since 1997. And with news headlines focused on the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, marina operators in the Gulf and Atlantic seaboard are questioning whether boaters are distracted or have simply forgotten about making annual storm preparations for the upcoming hurricane season, which began on June 1.
Adding to the operators’ worries are forecasts warning that 2010 could be a much more active hurricane season, with as many as 18 named storms.
On Florida’s east coast, Sebastian River Marina & Boatyard owner Doug Hillman is concerned.
"Unfortunately, some of us have short memories," said Hillman, who recalls the last significant storm that struck his region five years ago. "There doesn’t seem to be a sense of urgency this season."
Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) is advising recreational boaters in hurricane states to start making plans now to protect their boat from damage.
"If you wait until a storm watch is posted, it may be too late," said BoatUS Director of Damage Avoidance Bob Adriance.
To make storm preparation easier, BoatUS has free resources online for boaters, boat clubs, marinas and private dock owners that can help them survive hurricane season:
BoatUS Hurricane Resource Center (www.BoatUS.com/hurricanes) — The website offers easily downloadable storm planning materials 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. Sample hurricane plans for boat and yacht clubs as well as up-to-the-minute storm tracking tools with live satellite images are also offered.
BoatUS Captains Locator (www.BoatUS.com/procaptains) — While the safest location for a boat during a storm is on land, boaters may also want to ask their insurer now if their policy covers any of the costs of a storm-related haul-out. With help from the Locator, boat owners can seek the services of a professional delivery captain to move a vessel to a safe "hurricane hole" or to a haul out facility. If moving the boat is not possible, BoatUS suggests owners contact their marina now to enroll in hurricane "clubs."
Help for Boat Clubs, Yards and Marinas — Written for marina and yacht club managers, the free 24-page What Works, A Guide to Preparing Marinas, Yacht Clubs, and Boats for Hurricanes shares success stories as well as failures of dozens of facilities that have experienced a hurricane over last two decades. The guide covers floating docks with tall pilings, strapping down boats ashore, developing hurricane clubs for customers, dealing with boats at fixed docks, moving boats to hurricane holes, and how to install better moorings. Also included is a sample Marina Hurricane Preparation Plan that can be customized for any boating facility, as well as a Hurricane Preparation Worksheet that can be copied and given to individual boat owners. To download a copy of the guide, go to www.BoatUS.com/hurricanes. To get a paper copy, call 703-823-9550 ext. 3525.