When installing or repairing a boat-storage area in a hurricane-prone coastal location, plan ahead for the worst-case scenario. Going the extra mile to ensure the safety of your boat and marine structures is a great way to lower your risk of suffering losses due to storm surges and high winds.
Remember, too, that design considerations for your dock, boat-lift or slip must appease your insurance adjuster if you want to be reimbursed the maximum amount for a damaged boat. The four steps listed below are some of the ways to build a boat-storage area that's ready for hurricane season.
Make an Easy Escape
Most insurance companies recommend that you remove your boat from the water or from an exposed lift where a storm is expected to land. Some boat insurers will even pay half the cost of moving your boat and reduce your deductible for doing so.
If your hurricane-readiness plan involves taking your boat to secure dry docks or other high ground, create an easy process to move your boat. Make sure you have clear, unobstructed access to the slip for your truck and trailer. Install a durable boat ramp where possible.
Raise the Pilings High
Past hurricane damage to floating docks proves that those on higher pilings fare much better than those on stubbier pilings. Loftier pilings offer more vertical room for the boat to rise and fall with storm surges, wind gusts and high waves.
Low pilings are sometimes not tall enough to hold docks down when flooding or surges occur. Boats and decking end up floating above and away from the short pilings.
Taller pilings also give you great anchor points around lower slips. Experts actually recommend that you tie off your boat with the moorings or straps fastened high on the tall pilings. Moorings tied lower on high pilings are easily submerged and subject to chafing and fraying as water levels fluctuate.
Have your piling contractor install the most secure pilings possible for the location and your budget. Don't skimp on the quality — your pilings are all that stand between you and a lost boat in the worst of storms.
Give the Slip Some Space
In high winds, face an anchored (not slipped) boat into the wind when you can't remove it from the water. The boat will tend to weathercock or face into the wind. Frontal gusts flow past the front of the starboard and port sides, equalizing the wind pressure and pushing the boat around by the bow.
A docked boat doesn't have the freedom to spin with the wind. If a huge gale hits the boat from either side, the wind will push the boat sideways or even completely over on its side. When you make your boat slip a bit wider, you give your boat more space to maneuver around in the wind without damaging the boat's exterior.
Of course, the boat can't spin in the wider slip (and you wouldn't want it to do so.) However, the wider slip allows the boat more play room.
The extra slip room lets you add as many fenders as you like and cross-tie the boat in more secure configurations. Modern boats are built wider, so you'll be glad you have an ample slip when it comes time for a boat upgrade.
Have Ground Tackle Investigated
Every year before hurricane season, have your ground tackle inspected. Replace or lengthen any mooring pennants that are not adequate for storm surges.
Consider having helical anchors installed as permanent moorings. Helical moorings must be screwed into the bottom with a special technique and tools. Helical moorings have held at 12,000 and 20,800 pounds of test pull before a shackle.
So no one knows precisely how strong a helical anchor is. Experts do know it is far stronger than a 500-pound mushroom anchor buried in the bottom. The mushroom anchor can only withstand 1,200 pounds of force before being pulled free.
Trust Edgewater Marine Construction, Inc. to install your dock, boat slip, pilings, bulkheads and more. We also build secure boat houses including platform lifts for the ultimate in hurricane protection for your vessels.