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August 07, 2006

How to protect your trailered boat from hurricanes

Planning a trailer boat exit strategy for going over the road.

During an active hurricane season, recreational boaters can sometimes have a hard time staying out of harm's way. But as national boat registration numbers show, most recreational boats in the U.S. are 21 feet or less - and typically easier to trailer out of a storm's path. BoatU.S. Trailering magazine has information on planning a trailer boat exit strategy for going over the road. Here are some tips to help:

  • Have some "safe house" options: Knowing hurricanes can veer from their predicted paths, research and identify several different inland locations that could possibly shelter your boat from rising storm surge, rain or wind damage. These could be indoor storage facilities, outdoor storage yards, industrial buildings, or even a friend's garage.
  • Location, location, location: The ideal storage location has a higher elevation to avoid flooding from predicted storm surge - the leading cause of hurricane boat damage. It also includes structures built to "hurricane code" and locations far enough inland to take advantage of the weakening of the storm as it travels over land.
  • Have spare parts: You don't want to be forced to leave your boat on the side of the road if the trailer breaks down. Now is the time to purchase a spare trailer tire with hub, road hazard/tire repair kit, tire inflator and "bearing bras" that protect the hubs from water intrusion. Make up a trailer boat evacuation kit with water, radio, flashlight, dry food, batteries or anything else you may need if you're stranded.
  • Have enough gas: Driving long distances in stop-and-go traffic can eat up gas. Have extra containers (approved for gasoline) available and top them off before you go.
  • Leave early: Last minute departures means traffic jams. By being well prepared you can leave early when traffic volume is lower.

A free Hurricane Resource Center for boaters at www.BoatUS.com/hurricane includes vital hurricane tracking features including up to the minute forecasts and unique "spaghetti" models that show possible storm paths. Also at the website is a free hurricane planning worksheet to help trailer boaters make storm preparations.