ALEXANDRIA, Va. -- Four days before 2008's Hurricane Hanna struck the South Carolina coast and ran up the eastern U.S. seaboard, she was downgraded to a tropical storm. But that still didn't stop the damage to hundreds of recreational boats deluged by the storm's intense rains.
And with Hurricane Earl now forecast on a parallel course just eastward of Hanna's old track, Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) is again urging boaters from the Mid-Atlantic to New England to protect their vessels from the forecasted heavy precipitation.
"Normally it's a hurricane's storm surge and high winds that cause the most damage to recreational boats," said BoatUS Director of Damage Avoidance Bob Adriance. "But a hurricane doesn't have to score a direct hit to sink boats. Heavy rains can cause significant damage, especially with boats stored on lifts, or those stored in the water that have their scuppers or drain holes clogged by leaves or other debris."
Adriance says boaters should be prepared to remove boats from lifts and store them in a safe area and ensure drains remain clear and any drain plugs are removed.
Or, if your boat is stored in a slip it's a good idea to add extra dock lines and chafe protection. With any boat, windage such as sails or biminis should be removed.
To help boaters make preparations, BoatUS has some free online "tools" available at the BoatUS Hurricane Resource Center at 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. Marina and yacht club managers also have the free 24-page What Works, A Guide to Preparing Marinas, Yacht Clubs, and Boats for Hurricanes available, which shares success stories as well as failures of dozens of facilities that have experienced a hurricane over the last two decades.
While the safest location for a boat during a storm is on land, boaters may also want to ask their insurer if their policy offers help in paying for the cost of a storm-related haul-out. Boat owners seeking the services of a professional delivery captain to move a vessel to a safe location can go to the online BoatUS Captains Locator at www.BoatUS.com/procaptains.
For more information, go to www.BoatUS.com/Hurricanes.