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Boating Safety Tips: 6 Tips for Preparing for Storms

The skies start to blacken, the wind picks up, lightning flashes in the distance and thunder begins to crack. You notice birds making a lot of commotion and scattering to sheltered areas. A severe weather advisory notice displays across your television and you now realize that a squall of epic proportions is coming your way. To prepare for this storm, you simply seek shelter in your basement and stay informed about the potential damage it could cause to your house. You might close the blinds or turn off your major electronic devices once the storm hits. Now, imagine if you were in a completely different setting. A vulnerable setting that yields monstrous storms that creep up on anyone. If you were to take action as leisurely as you would within the comfort of your home, the consequences would be devastating. This setting is known as your boat.

Here at JetDock, we know how horrific it is to be on your boat during a storm. So, we decided to write a two part series to educate you on how to prepare for storms that are fast approaching and what to do when caught in a storm.

This year, AccuWeather has predicted that during the months of May and June there will be a spike in damaging thunderstorms capable of producing tornados or waterspouts. This spike is actually known to occur later than usual, so now is a good time to start preparing for the horrible squalls coming in the near future. Listed below are five tips for preparing your boat and dock or boat lift for fast approaching storms this boating season:

1. Have your boat well equipped with safety items

Many boaters underestimate the importance of having proper safety equipment on board. Not only is safety equipment required to be on your boat by law, it is necessity in storm situations. You NEED to have first aid kits, a radio and life preservers that are all USCG approved on board at all times. We also recommend purchasing safety harnesses to ensure you do not get tossed overboard in the event you are caught in the storm. Should a storm get out of control, this could mean the difference between life and death.

2. Invest in a lightning grounding protection system

This year it might be worth your while to invest in a lightning grounding protection system to protect your boat against lightning damage as well as personal injury or even death. Lightning protection systems dissipate the thousands of volts of a lightning strike into the water instead of through your boat. This clears the boat of the surge of electricity lightning causes if it strikes your watercraft.

3. Double your key boat lift or dock lines

Let’s say you were able to make it out of a storm and docked your boat. You may think you are safe but your boat could still be vulnerable to damage during the storm. Your boat’s key dock or lift lines receive the most stress from your vessel so it is imperative that they be reinforced in severe storm conditions. If one of these key dock lines fails, your boat could be sent out of control in your marina. We suggest doubling your lines to ensure that you have a backup in the case that one of them fails. Also, make sure to not tie off a plethora of lines on one cleat. The stress caused by the lines could cause the cleat to break and send your boat spiraling out of control.

4. Prevent line chafing by reinforcing key parts of your dock or boat lift lines

During stormy weather boats and docks tend to move with the water causing your lines to rube against the edge of your boat. If a storm is prolonged there possibility that your lines will eventually snap. We suggest cutting an old pair of denim jeans into strips to reinforce the parts of your docking lines that come in contact with your boat or dock. Denim makes for great chafing gear as it is an extremely strong material. Make sure to cover much more of the line that comes in contact with your boat or dock to ensure it is well strengthened.

5. Remove canvas covers and tarps

Canvas covers and tarps increase windage which could heighten the chances of your boat getting pulled by the storm. We suggest simply wrapping any exposed electronics using plastic bags and painters tape. Painters tape should be used because it does not cause a mess when water hits it.

6. Disconnect power cords and electronics clients

We advise disconnecting any power cords to safeguard against power surges caused by the storm. Power surges can destroy your boat’s electronics which could mean spending thousands of dollars to fix the damage.

Overall, with the storm season fast approaching it is essential that you take these boating safety tips into consideration to safeguard your boat, and boat lift or dock, against these dreadful weather conditions. If you want more protection during a storm we suggest investing in a boat lift or floating dock. Our boat lifts and floating docks give and move with the stormy water instead of resisting it and come out unharmed.

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