Recreational boaters in Eastern Canada will remember names like Luis, Bertha, Hortense, Gustav, Juan, Ophelia, Noel, Kyle, Earl, Igor, Leslie, Arthur, Matthew, Dorian and Teddy.
These, of course, are not names of your recent dinner party guests, but some of the hurricanes and post-tropical storms that have made landfall in our little corner of the Atlantic Ocean.
Even as this commentary is being penned, recreational boaters in eastern Newfoundland are anxiously watching the track of Hurricane Larry as it slowly approaches from the southern Atlantic.
As is evident from the extensive list of names, recreational boaters here are no strangers to major storms, particularly in late summer and early fall. However, despite the warning and past experience, many boat owners still have their crafts damaged or sunk when one of these tempests passes through.
Here is a hurricane preparedness checklist from the U.S. Coast Guard of tasks that you may or may not have thought of in the event of a major storm:
- Make a storm plan. Designate a responsible person to execute the plan if you will be out of town.
- Pick a haul-out provider. Owners who must move their boats in the event of a storm should decide where to have it hauled before hurricane season begins. Don’t wait until a storm is imminent.
- Once a storm is forecasted for your area, remove all detachable items from your boat, such as canvas, sails, cushions, fishing rigging, radios, electronics and antennas. Lash down everything that you cannot remove, including booms, tillers, wheels, etc…
- Make an inventory, preferably by video, of all valuable fixed items such as marine electronics onboard your boat.
- Store all the boat’s important documents, including your marine insurance policy, in a secure place off the vessel.
- Deflate your dinghy and store it and its outboard motor off the boat. If it’s a fibreglass dinghy, have it stored in an indoor facility.
- Lash your boat down securely if it is on a trailer. Use tie-downs to anchor the trailer to the ground, let the air out of its tires and weigh down the frame.
- Disconnect your boat’s battery. If it is in a facility with shore power, be sure all power is turned off and all shore power cords are stowed securely.
- Centre your boat in its slip if it is docked in a marina or in a private berth. Double-up all dock lines and make sure they are of sufficient length to compensate for excessive high water.
- And most importantly, under no circumstances are you to stay with your boat or try to ride out a storm onboard. No matter how valuable your vessel is to you — both financially and sentimentally — it’s not worth your life.