How to increases the chances that your boat will survive this season’s Hurricanes By Wayne Spivak National Press Corps United States Coast Guard Auxiliary “The season” is almost upon us. No, we’re not talking Christmas, where our children on Christmas morning make the room where you keep your Tree look like a hurricane hit it - we’re talking the real deal. That’s right, Hurricanes. Last year, Florida was hit by four major Hurricanes within as many weeks (the first, Charley began 8 August; the last Jeanne struck 13 September). Property damage was estimated at $44 billon. Unfortunately, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) hurricane forecast for 2005 indicates there is a 70 percent chance of an above normal hurricane season. The outlook calls for 12-15 tropical storms, with 7-9 becoming hurricanes, and 3-5 of these becoming major hurricanes. Included in last year’s horrendous damage number were numerous boats. BOATU.S. reported in just one single marina, the Ft. Piece City Marina, some 69 boats were sunk or destroyed after Hurricane Frances. Could damage like this have been prevented? And if the answer is yes, then how can you protect you’re boat. Experts agree there is much you can do to prepare for a hurricane. It is recommended that as Step 1, everyone should take the FEMA on-line course “Are You Ready?”, located at http://www.fema.gov/areyouready/. This general purpose on-line course will give you insight into what needs to be accomplished to properly protect yourself, your family and your property. Preventing Damage Here are just some of the steps you should undertake in order to prepare for a potential hurricane. The News-Press located in Ft. Meyers, FL has a rather extensive list of do’s and do some mores, related to hurricanes. This list is located at: http://www.news- press.com/news/weather/hurricane/stories/25hurricaneprotectingboats.html. 1. Prepare hurricane moorings way in advance, in an inland area. 2. Check the moorings. Make sure they will be able to maintain their hold in a strong wind. 3. Remember, storm surge and associated tides can be 10 to 20 feet above normal. Prepare accordingly. 4. Wind directions change constantly in a hurricane. Make sure your boat is secured from all points of the compass. 5. Remove all items from the boat that could go airborne and become a missile. Lash down everything else. 6. Seal all openings. Protect portholes and other window-like structures. 7. When a Warning is issued by your local authorities, heed them and move your vessel to its hurricane mooring. 8. Make sure your vessel is not blocking movement in the area in which it is moored. In other words, be courteous to other boaters. 9. Remember chafing gear for your lines (however, make sure you get carried away with chafing gear, as winds and movement will be extreme and you don’t want a line to be cut by a sharp edge). 10. Do Not stay with your vessel. Get to a protected area or emergency shelter. Again, these are just some of the items you should be thinking about. Even if you were to follow every item on every list made by every pundit, your vessel could still suffer minor to severe damage. Hurricanes are not 100% predictable, and as we learned last year, they all seem to have minds of their own, and choose their own paths in their short and destructive lives. All we boat owners can do is our best in protecting our boats from the fury which is a hurricane. The United States Coast Guard Auxiliary is composed of uniformed, non-military volunteer civilians who assist the Coast Guard in all of its varied missions, except for military and direct law enforcement. These men and women can be found on the nation's waterways, in the air, in classrooms and on the dock, performing Maritime Domain Awareness patrols, safety patrols, vessel safety checks and public education. The United States Coast Guard Auxiliary was founded in 1939 by an Act of Congress as the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve and re-designated as the Auxiliary in 1941. Its 30,000 members donate millions of hours annually in support of Coast Guard missions. For more information on the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary, visit us at www.cgaux.org.