Be proactive in hurricane preparation
ALTHOUGH June is Hawaii's official Hurricane Awareness Month, a recent report from BoatUS -- the Boat Owners Association of the United States -- reminds us it is never too early for boaters to prepare for these disastrous storms.
The BoatUS report came out of a symposium held in Florida by the managers of more than 150 marinas, boatyards and yacht clubs regarding the lessons to be learned from the hurricanes they had experienced over the past several years.
While discussing their individual experiences, tactics, and strategies, the group was able to agree on a number of storm preparation tips that boat owners and marina operators in hurricane-prone places like Hawaii should consider for reducing damage to their vessels and improving the odds of a quicker recovery of their marinas.
The group established the most important task as creating a written plan that includes deciding where your boat should be to best survive a storm, what supplies you'll need and who will activate your plan if you are out of town when the storm approaches.
It was also determined that you should arrange with your marina in advance to get your boat out of the water and onto high ground, if possible, as it is the single-best thing you can do to protect your boat from a severe storm.
Once hurricane warnings have been posted, marina operators will be far too busy to accommodate last-minute requests.
And because boats that have been brought ashore and secured to the ground tend to experience much less damage, there was a group consensus that marinas and boatyards should strap boats down to large metal eyes imbedded in concrete or secure lines to earth augers.
If your boat must remain at a dock, extra dock lines and chaffing gear were strongly recommended, with particular attention to potential chafe areas such as chocks, pilings, pulpits, and dock edges. And certainly all older dock lines that have been weakened by salt, dirt and UV exposure should be replaced.
No matter where you leave your boat, anything that creates windage, such as Bimini tops, dodgers, outriggers, antennae and portable davits should be taken home or stowed below. Ventilators should be taken out and the openings sealed.
Whenever possible, sailboats should have their masts unstepped.
But if this becomes a part of your plan, remember to always maintain your boat's rigging with well-lubed turnbuckles and cotter pins so the job will go smoothly in a time of stress.
Of course, if the mast is left up, all sails and covers must be removed.
In addition to all of these suggestions, I would add that boaters in Hawaii should check out the Pacific Disaster Center's Web site at www.pdc.org/iweb/hurricane_awareness.jsp.
Although it is primarily designed for emergency managers, its approach to emergency management has been evolving from being reactive -- focusing on response and recovery operations -- to being proactive -- focusing on mitigation and preparedness, so it has value for everyone.