Own a boat in Florida? Here’s what you need to do if Hurricane Ian approaches

Pedro Portal/pportal@miamiherald.com

Floridians love their boats.

But with Hurricane Ian a potential threat to Florida, all of you captains need to pay attention to alerts from the National Hurricane Center, forecasters and local media so that you can keep your beloved boats safe in a storm.

How to prepare your boat

Miami-Dade County has posted the following advice on protecting your boat and what happens if a tropical storm or hurricane arrives.

Secure it properly well before a storm approaches. Use double lines at a marina or consider dry-dock storage. Never try to ride out a hurricane in your boat.

All marinas will close when sustained winds reach 39 mph. Biscayne National Park tows all boats to the Everglades and closes at least 24 hours before the landfall of a tropical storm or hurricane.

Check your marina contract for policies and procedures for hurricanes.

Consolidate all records, including insurance policies, a recent photo of your vessel, boat lease agreement with the marina or storage area, and telephone numbers of appropriate authorities.

Boats stored on land fare better on average in a hurricane compared to boats kept in the water.

Trailer boats should be removed from the water and securely stored at least 48 hours before a hurricane is expected to make landfall. The center issues a hurricane watch two days ahead of a storm based on when hurricane conditions are expected to begin in an area within 48 hours.

Florida is watching Ian. When should you start putting up hurricane shutters?

Moor the boat in a previously identified safe area.

Purchase hurricane materials such as additional mooring lines, crew anchors, fenders, fender boards, chafing gear and anchors.

After you have made anchoring or mooring provisions, remove all movable equipment such as canvas, sails, dinghies, radios, cushions, Biminis and roller furling sails.

If evacuations have started off the barrier islands, Intracoastal Waterway bridges open infrequently to allow marine traffic to pass until lockdown.

Owners who tie up their vessels unlawfully in the Miami River, blocking federal navigable waterway access, may be fined and have their vessels removed.

Boat Owners Association of the United States storm prep

The Boat Owners Association of the United States maintains a storm preparation guide and urges anyone who owns a boat to prepare in timely fashion.

“The best predictor of whether your boat will survive a hurricane is where it’s kept,” the association said in its hurricane preparation guide. “Just as in real estate, the three most important considerations should be location, location, location.”

The association offers hurricane-planning help for boat owners, including a sampling of marina plans and a hurricane preparedness guide.

Here are some tips from BoatUS and West Marine:

Before the storm

Relocate boat to a safe location and secure it.

Remove sails, canvas, dodgers and Bimini frames to reduce potential for wind damage.

Decks should be cleared so there are no flying projectiles.

Seal openings and make boats watertight.

Interior engine, toilet, and sink seacocks/valves should be closed.

Valuables, including electronics and fishing equipment, should be removed.

Boats in marinas should be locked, and a key should be left with a marina manager.

After the storm

If your boat is in a marina, don’t enter until restrictions are lifted.

Take photos of the boat and damage.

After you are able to assess the damage, call your insurance company and file a claim.

Dry water-damaged areas as soon as possible.

If you suspect water got into the engine, flush it as soon as possible.

This report was supplemented from Miami Herald archives.