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Hurricane Irma is blazing a trail through the Caribbean and she is likely to leave plenty of destruction in her wake. The word “catastrophic” is already being thrown around and President Trump has declared a state of emergency for Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and Florida. As of this writing, it is not certain where in Florida Irma may hit, however, the destructive force of Hurricane Harvey and the accompanying images of Houston’s flooding has lead many Floridians to prepare for the worse. In addition to restocking one’s emergency preparedness kit and going over a communication plan with family and friends, it is also important to take some time to secure and prepare your dock for Hurricane Irma.

Secure Loose Items

If you have chairs or other loose items on your dock, they should be moved inside. Similarly, if you have any loose items on your boat, move them for safekeeping. If you have an awning and can take it down, do so.

Remove Valuables from Your Boat

If you have removable electronics on your boat such as a radar or GPS equipment, take them off your boat and place them in a secure location. Tape shut any doors or compartments that may swing open. Once your boat is secure, make sure to take photos of the boat and the dock in case you need them for an insurance claim.

Keep Your Papers Safe

While you are gathering important papers such as your homeowners or renters insurance policy, your medical cards, and birth certificates, make sure to grab your boat title and insurance as well. If you have to leave your home, you’ll want to take this information with you. To make this easy, place your important documents in a portable file box and keep it with your emergency kit.

You may also want to reread your boat insurance policy so you have a good understanding of what it covers and how to go about making a claim if necessary.

If You Have a Floating Dock

Floating docks are known to better weather storms, especially those with taller pilings. If your floating dock has shorter pilings, it is advised that you move your boat. It can be moved to higher ground or to a specific shelter.

Check the lines on your floating dock to determine if they need to be let out. With a storm like Irma, there is a potential for higher waves and increased surge. You want your dock to have the flexibility to manage those changes, but not have too much slack.

Also, check the lines anchoring your boat to your dock. Make sure they are in good condition and add more if necessary. If you have time to secure chafe gear to your dock, it can provide additional protection for your boat.

If You Have a Fixed Dock

If you have a fixed dock, you may want to remove your boat from the water and store it on high ground. A fixed dock may not be able to handle the accompanying surge from a hurricane. Securely strap your boat down and remove any loose components to reduce the chances of damage

Here is more information from Boat U.S. magazine detailing different ways to prepare your boat for a hurricane.

We understand that your dock and your boat or other watercraft are important to you, however, we hope that if an evacuation is called for in your area, that you will heed the call and head to safer territory. Your life is always more valuable. Stay safe!