Heavy Weather Checklist: Be prepared when it decides to blow…

Bobby Byrd
Heavy Weather Checklist: Be prepared when it decides to blow…
When preparing for a storm use multiple heavy dock lines and tie to multiple points. Lines should be adjustable at the boat, not the dock.
As predicted, our hurricane season has been pretty active this year. Storms are coming off the African coast at an alarming rate and even though we haven't had to deal with much along our coast, it is always good to be prepared. Tropical depressions can form in the Gulf very unexpectedly this time of year, so you should have a plan for making sure your boat is as safe as possible. Keeping track of the weather is essential to make sure you have plenty of time to get your boat secured. Start as soon as you think there might be a storm coming. The Gulf of Mexico is like a big bowl and once it gets disturbed it affects much of the coast. Tropical force winds can extend over a hundred miles away from the center of a hurricane, so if you wait too late, the water may already be too high to make a move, even though the storm is still far away.

When a storm is approaching you should move your boat to the safest area available. For a boat that can be hauled on a trailer, this usually means moving your boat inland, preferably at least 50 miles from the coast. Damage can still occur inland, so avoid parking it near tall trees or low lying areas. For larger boats in the water, the choice is either to move the boat to a safe harbor or run down the coast away from the storm. When picking a safe harbor try to find a protected marina with floating docks. You may already be docked in this type of marina, if so you are one step ahead. In a marina, you should be able to tie your boat up securely and leave. Be sure to lower antennas, outriggers and Bimini tops. Also, remove any vinyl spray enclosures and loose gear. If a safe marina is not available you may be able to go up one of the many river, bayous or canals along our coast. Securing your boat in these areas may be more difficult and it may come down to a decision for someone to stay on the boat. If you make the decision to stay aboard, you will need a minimum of two people. It is a difficult decision for some, especially if they have other concerns with a home and family. Whatever decision you make, make it early and be prepared.

Heavy weather can hit just about any time of the year. Hurricanes are talked about the most, but tropical storms, depressions and low pressure areas can all produce bad weather. Cold fronts and squall lines can also come blasting through when you least expect it. If you do get in a situation where you must ride out a storm, here are some ideas for a heavy weather check list

Heavy Weather Check List
- Traveling boats need two anchors, three is better. Make sure one is an oversized storm anchor.
- Carry plenty of extra line. Make sure you have heavy lines available.
- Fenders are always a must, the larger the better.
- Foul weather gear is essential.
- Make sure your boat is full of fuel and water.
- Take plenty of food and ice.
- Keep emergency equipment up to date.
- Have several flashlights available with extra batteries.
- Keep a large knife ready in case a line must be cut.
- Be ready for a wind shift in any direction.
- Remove all loose equipment from docks.
- Lower antennas, outriggers and Bimini tops
- Secure all equipment on board.
- If a storm or hurricane is eminent, double or triple up on all lines. Try to spread the load to as many cleats as possible. You may also want to set a storm anchor, even at a dock.
- Minimum two persons on board for storm.
- Make mooring lines adjustable from the boat, not from the dock. When the water rises the dock may go underwater.
- Get all lines adjusted before the storm hits, it may be impossible later.
- Monitor TV and radio for weather updates.
- Keep friends and family informed of your situation.

Keep your vessel in top shape and all your equipment up to date. Monitor the weather before any trip and don't take any chances. When bad weather approaches, it's nice to know you and your boat are prepared.

The South West International Boat Show will be held September 23-26th at South Shore Harbor Marina on Clear Lake, just south of Houston. Visit us at our Fox Yacht Sales display or at the Tops-N-Towers booth. At Fox we have an extensive inventory of brokerage boats and we are the exclusive Texas dealer for Jupiter and CABO Yachts. Come get a great deal on your next boat.