Danny has disappeared. But Tropical Storm Erika is gaining strength. Maybe it is time to make sure your boat is prepared to weather a storm. If you are like me, you probably don't start thinking about hurricane season until the end of August. That's when low pressure systems seem to line up like freight trains and start barreling across the Atlantic. Over the years, several have made landfall on or near the Labor Day weekend, including an epic Category 5 storm 80 years ago.This small, tightly-compacted storm took many by surprise in the Florida Keys. With winds of 185 mph and one of the lowest barometric pressures on record, the Great Labor Day Hurricane of 1935 left 408 people dead in its wake.Fortunately, times have changed. The National Hurricane Center has a great website (nhc.noaa.gov) that keeps us all informed. Boaters have days, if not weeks, to prepare for a storm. And remember, you need not only be concerned with Cat 5 storms. A tropical depression or storm can also damage your boat.Tropical storm systems typically damage boats in one of two ways. A big storm can push a wall of water, i.e., a storm surge, toward land. The water level can rise several feet above normal high tide. If your boat is not properly secured, the lines will break and the rush of water will carry the watercraft and leave it sometimes miles inland.If your boat is on a trailer, near your home or in a marina yard, it can be picked up by the wind and tossed about like a piece of litter. So, if possible, store the boat in dry storage at a marina or move it to a garage.If your vessel is stored in the water and you want to motor to safety, take it up a river or creek, where it can ride out the storm surge out of the wind. Mariners should do this far ahead of the storm. Remember, drawbridges often lock down up to eight hours before the arrival of gale-force winds.If your boat is on a trailer and you have no safe place to store it locally, move it inland well ahead of the storm. Otherwise, you might have to deal with traffic on roadways packed with evacuees.If you plan to leave your boat tied up at the marina, if you can, remove all electronics and other valuables. Stow anything else that may blow away — Bimini tops, sails, life rings, cushions, dinghies, etc.And now, when the weather is good, take a look at all of your deck lines. Why take a chance with old, dried-out line? When in doubt, throw it out. Line is a lot cheaper than a new boat. Practice securing the boat 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.Remember — communication is key in any emergency situation. Invest in a good weather radio. Make sure you have extra batteries. While shopping for hurricane supplies, pick up a waterproof case for your cell phone and a solar charger. You will be glad you did.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.