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  1. Local Weather

Secure your boat long before storm strikes

Published May 13, 2015

The time to get your boat hurricane ready is now, not when there's a hurricane tracking up the Gulf of Mexico.

Tropical systems impact boats two ways. The storm surge can raise the water level far above normal high tide and break your deck lines, then the rush of water will stack these unsecured watercraft, sometimes miles inland, like cord wood.

The best course of action is to move your boat inland well ahead of the storm so you won't have to deal with packed roadways. If possible, store the boat in dry storage at a marina or in a garage. If you must motor to safety, take your boat up a creek or river, where it can weather the storm surge out of the wind. Remember, drawbridges can lock down up to eight hours before the arrival of gale-force winds. .

If you plan to leave your boat tied up at the marina and hope for the best, make sure you remove all valuables. Disconnect the electronics and stow any Bimini tops, sails, life rings, cushions, dinghies, etc.

Inspect your deck lines. Don't take any chances with old, dried-out line. When in doubt, throw it out. Don't wait until the storm is here because it may take a couple of attempts to get the length right. Remember, extra-long "spring" lines are designed to keep a boat secure during major tidal fluctuations, as in spring tides. Follow the same drill for tropical storms.

Once the storm has passed, keep in mind that familiar aids to navigation — buoys and channel markers — may be torn away from their usual positions. If you have to move by boat, take it slow. Channels can be hard to recognize without the usual markers. There is also the danger of floating or submerged debris. Everything from derelict boats to fallen trees will be in the water. Post a lookout on the bow and run like you are in a no-wake zone.

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