Florida homeowners usually know that hurricanes and tropical storms are an unavoidable part of life. But some of the most vulnerable pieces of property during any storm are boats and personal watercraft that must usually face the weather directly. How can you ensure the best protection for your boats, no matter the circumstances or the storm? Discover six things to do.
1. Update Old Docks
The dock is a boat’s primary line of defense against storm surges, wind, and debris if it must remain in the water or is on a lift. How solid is your dock? Are wooden pilings or planks warped, rotten, or cracking? Do you find visible signs of mold, rust, or moss? Has it developed a distinct lean in the direction of tidal flow? Or has it just not had much maintenance over a long period?
Securing a boat to a dock that is unsteady gives you a false sense of security. However, with a strong dock using modern marine construction methods and technology, your boat can be at its safest when simply tied properly to its protective structure.
2. Enclose a Boathouse
Boathouses are great for protecting boats from the elements on a regular basis. They offer a roof to reduce sun and rain exposure, and they are a sturdy base for building a lift to reduce water exposure.
However, can you get more protection by enclosing your boat house more thoroughly? The simple addition of two or three side walls may not form a complete barrier against all wind or water surges, but it defends the boat against debris and wind more than a naked dock or lift.
3. Consider a Floating Dock
A floating dock can be a good alternative to fixed docks, depending on your specific geography and boats. Unlike fixed docks, of course, a floating dock rises and falls with the water surge — bringing your secured boat along for the ride. This means less risk of flooding damage from rising water and an easier time securing watercraft.
However, the pilings of the floating dock must be higher than the expected storm surge. You can’t always foretell the details of a particular storm, though, so the best preparation is to consult with local marine construction professionals with experience in your area’s common storm conditions.
4. Add Security to Lifts
If you use a boat lift during storms, add quality upgrades designed specifically to help keep the boat in place during wind and rain events.
For instance, cleats sunk solidly into the dock itself are a good base for securing boats with additional taut lines. You also need a safe place to store all the equipment and accessories you can strip from the boat before the storm — and possibly even the lift’s motor and gear box. And perhaps add additional security features like pilings for extra strapping and I-beams as a backup against cables snapping.
5. Check Your Moorings
As with aging docks and water-damaged pilings, aging moorings provide a false sense of security. At its best, a good mooring may provide equal or better protection for many boats than a traditional fixed dock. The primary reason? The boat moves and swings with the wind and tides rather than working against them. But this is all predicated on the mooring itself being up to the task.
Regularly inspect your mooring and its chain to determine their condition. And consider upgrading the type of mooring, such as from a mushroom or deadweight to a helix anchor, to increase its resistance in extreme weather and take advantage of improvements in the technology.
Do you want help ensuring the best protection for all your valuable watercraft? No matter what type of facilities you have or what challenges you face, start by meeting with the marine construction pros at Abbotts’ Construction Services, Inc. For more than 35 years, we’ve assisted boat owners throughout Florida with all their storm protection needs. Call today to get answers to your questions or schedule an appointment.