2019 Hurricane Season Tips for Boat Owners

Florida Hurricane season Runs June 1st – November 30th. Prepare Your Boat Now Before It’s Too Late.

Hurricane season runs from June 1st through November 30th, with peak activity typically in August and September. While we’ve been fortunate to avoid a direct hit in South Florida over the past three years, our neighbors to the north and south have not been as lucky. We saw the utter destruction caused by Hurricane Irma in the Upper Keys in 2017, and the catastrophic damage Hurricane Michael caused last year as it came ashore in the Florida Panhandle as the fourth-strongest windstorm on record to make landfall on the continental United States.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts a near-average 2019 season, with 9-15 named storms, 4-8 of which may become hurricanes and 2-4 that may become major hurricanes of Category 3 or higher. One named storm, Andrea, formed prior to the start of the season. NOAA’s hurricane outlook is similar to Colorado State University’s, which calls for 13 named storms, 5 hurricanes, and 2 major hurricanes.

Officials underscore the fact that an average season is still “a lot of storms.” Unfortunately, many of us know from experience that it only takes one storm to cause complete destruction so now is the best time to prepare your boat for a potential hurricane.

HURRICANE SEASON BOAT PREPARATION TIPS

The first step in preparing for hurricane season is to create a hurricane plan well before a storm approaches. When formulating a hurricane plan, always keep in mind that life comes before property. Customers are our key priority at North Beach Marina, so to ensure your safety we strongly encourage that you heed all evacuation notices issued by your local county emergency management office regardless of the vulnerability of your boat.

Know Your Insurance Policy

Secure all of your important boat documents in an easily accessible location on dry land and make sure your insurance policy is up-to-date. Become familiar with your policy and contact your provider prior to a storm if you have any questions. To help with claims, take photos and video of your boat before and after to show proof of damages, and inventory all equipment on your boat. 

Get on Dry Land

If you have a smaller boat under 35-feet, it is safest for the boat (and for your mental well-being) to be on land rather than in the water. Whether the boat is on a trailer, next to your house, or at a dry storage marina, boats that are stored dry typically see less damage than those left in the water during a hurricane. Be sure to store the boat on high ground to avoid flooding and place additional jack stands along with areas of the hull that are reinforced by bulkheads. Place pieces of plywood under the stands to prevent them from sinking into the ground, and chain together jack stands to prevent them from spreading apart.

Securing Your Boat on a Trailer

Tying your boat to its trailer helps prevent it from floating away in the storm surge or flooding a hurricane brings. If you’re keeping it on a trailer outside, choose a location away from trees and electricity poles, preferably next to a building or other structure that provides a shield from the wind. Place blocks beneath the frame on either side of the wheels, and deflate the tires. Tie the boat to the trailer and secure the boat to ground the best you can.

Remove and Secure Items to Reduce Windage

If you leave the boat outside during a storm, remove anything that has the potential to fly off, like covers, especially if they are expensive or custom-made. Even if the storm does not damage your boat, it is likely that your canvas will be damaged or destroyed by wind, the strain from rain collecting, or by flying debris. Boats are made to get wet, so leave it uncovered during a storm.

We also recommend that you take anything above and below deck off the boat if it is not waterproof, or if it is light enough to fly away in a heavy wind. This includes (but is not limited to) cushions, dock lines, flags, Bimini tops, and GPS/radios. Make sure to secure anything else that cannot be removed from the boat. To prevent chafing, wrap protective covering around your lines wherever the ropes touch the boat. Fully charge batteries in case the bilge pump has to work overtime, and shut off fuel lines.

Seal Openings

Seal all openings (hatches, cabinets, doors, etc.) on the boat to keep it watertight. To help keep things secure during a storm, use duct tape for an easy remedy.

Remove Drain Plugs

If you are storing your boat on dry land, remove the drain plugs. Marinas typically do this when storing. If the boat fills up with water, the added weight can negatively affect the way it sits on your trailer or dry-rack. Just remember to put the plug back in before using the boat.

Inspect the Bilge Pumps & Float Switches

Make sure your bilge pumps and bilge float switches are working and are hard-wired to your batteries. If your boat is on a lift, make sure the lift is in good working order and lift your boat higher than normal.

SECURING YOUR BOAT TO A LIFT

Boats on lifts are more susceptible to damage in a serious storm due to collapsing lifts, flooding, being blown off cradles, etc. If you must leave your boat on a lift, raise your boat as high as the lift allows but do not secure the boat to the lift. Secure long ropes to anchor points (do not secure to floating docks, use pilings) in case the surge lifts the boat off the lift.

STORING YOUR BOAT ON WATER DURING A HURRICANE

Find a Safe Harbor

If you have no choice but to leave your boat in the water during a hurricane, try to find a safe harbor to anchor, preferably off of the deep water. Once you find a safe place, look around. Are there rocks? Are you near a seawall? Is your boat anchored on a sandy bottom or a rocky ledge? What obstacles can the boat come into contact with during violent winds, storm surges, or if the boat breaks loose from its anchor? A well-protected area with the least amount of fetch is best.

Securing to a Dock

Boats tied to docks are at greater risk than boats kept at moorings or on anchors since they suffer more windage. If you have no other option but to dock your boat, make sure your dock is in good shape and make any necessary improvements to ensure it holds up during the storm. As crunch time approaches, double or triple tie your boat to the dock. Adjust all lines to account for tide surges, the wind, and rain, and ensure each line has adequate chafe protection on the boat and at the dock cleats. Also, use buoys and fenders to protect from impact against floating debris, the dock, and seawall.

FINAL TIPS FOR HURRICANE SEASON – DON’T WAIT

Evidence shows that boats stored on land fare better on average in a hurricane compared to boats kept in the water. If you plan on hauling your boat, coordinate in advance with your marina. Don’t wait until three days before the storm to make your hurricane plan. Call your local marinas and Happy Trailer Storage today to see how we can help before a storm hits.

You can take all the precautions in the world to secure your boat, but Mother Nature sometimes gets the best of us. Be prepared and stay safe. Should you need assistance preparing your boat for hurricane season, call us at (786) 728-9988.

Labor Day Boat Safety Tips

10 Boat Safety Tips to Help You Keep Safe on the Water this Labor Day Weekend in Miami

Happy Labor Day from everyone at Happy Trailer Rentals!

Established by the Labor Movement in 1894, Labor Day is one of the most time-honored traditions in America celebrating the contributions we’ve made to the strength, prosperity, and well being of our country. As boaters and party-goers from around the world flock to Fort Lauderdale for the last major holiday before the fall, we would like to remind you of a few safety tips as you plan to head out on the water for Labor Day Weekend in Miami, Florida.

Top 10 Boating Tips for Labor Day

1. Don’t Drink and Operate a Boat: In 2016, alcohol use was the top reason why fatal boating accidents occur in America according to the US Coast Guard’s annual report. Operator inattention, operator inexperience, improper lookout, excessive speed, and machinery failure rank as the top five primary contributing factors in accidents.

2. Always Have Life Jackets: Everyone on board should be wearing a life jacket while the boat is in operation. 80% of fatal boating accident victims drowned. Of those drowning victims with reported life jacket usage, 83% were not wearing a life jacket. Make sure that you have an appropriately sized life jacket for every person on board.

3. Communicate Emergency Plan: Communicate your plan with the people on your boat and at least one person on shore in case something should go wrong. Also, it is recommended to inform the persons on shore when you will be departing and arriving back at the dock and to call to confirm your safe voyage.

4. Don’t Break the Rules: Boater education courses can help you understand laws, navigation rules, emergency situations, and other useful tips. The top five contributing factors in boating accidents include operator inattention, operator inexperience, improper lookout, excessive speed, and machinery failure.

5. Use the Kill-Switch: Many accidents involve boaters who fall overboard without having been clipped to the engine kill switch. This important piece of equipment can help protect you by stopping the engines should you get ejected overboard.

6. Follow the Weather: Check weather conditions often and be aware of storm warnings before you head out on the water. In Miami, the weather can change drastically within minutes.  Be prepared for sun or storm.

7. Wear Sunscreen: The Florida Sun is brutal. Be sure to bring a minimum of a 50 proof sunscreen and apply every few hours to avoid sunburn. It is also recommended to wear a hat, sunglasses, and cover up when in direct sunlight for extended periods of time. If you should get burned, Tylenol and Aloe Vera gel can help alleviate the pain.

8. Drink Water: Sun poisoning is not something we made up to scare the snowbirds. Make sure to drink plenty of water and to stay shaded to avoid becoming dehydrated when on the water for extended periods of time.  Especially when indulging in alcohol, do not forget to hydrate!

9. Avoid the Propellers. Many accidents involve non-boaters near the engine propellers. Be sure the area is clear when starting and stopping the boat engines. There were 171 accidents in 2016 which a propeller struck at least one person. Collectively, these accidents resulted in 24 deaths and 175 injuries.

10. Be Courteous: Realize that you are sharing the water with other people so please make sure to be courteous to other boats. Wave, keep your music at a low roar when anchored/beached next to someone, and make sure to leave with everything you came with (take your garbage with you).

Have a safe and fun Labor Day! If you have any questions feel free to contact us at 786-728-9988 or click here

A Guide To Fishing Season in South Florida

South Florida Fishing Season Guide

The winds are starting to lie down and it’s a wonderful time for fishing in South Florida. With lobster season and stone crab season coming to its end, there are many other opportunities to go fishing as we come out of Spring. From the deep sea to Biscayne Bay there are plenty of opportunities to catch your next dinner or wall mount. It’s all fun until you get a fine, so whether you’re hunting for Wahoo or Mahi or grouper, we want you to be safe when it comes to size and season regulations. View our guide below to a successful 2016 Fishing Season in Miami and all of South Florida. And remember; to the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), size and timing do matter. So pay attention to what’s in season and the size of your catch or be prepared to pay.

What’s in Season Now?

The big question everyone is asking us is when is Grouper Season in Miami? Offshore, the grouper are biting because they know that they’re untouchable! Grouper is off-limits until May 1st, in which the season will run until December 31. Learn more about Grouper Season in Miami at myfwc.com. Now is the season for Wahoo and for Blackfin Tuna as well. May through July is the peak season for Mahi and Amberjack.

Fishing Biscayne Bay and the Flats

If you’re not in the mood to be out in open water, fishing Biscayne Bay and the flats are great choices. If you’re fishing the bay make sure to have some live shrimp and get ready to catch the ravenous speckled trout that are chowing down this time of year. April through July is also a very good time to sharpen up on your fly fishing skills in the bay The tarpon are here in great abundance, and if you’re looking for the Slam (tarpon, permit, bonefish), it can happen during these next few months.

Fishing Regulations Cheat Sheet

There are many rules and regulations to be aware of when it comes to fishing in South Florida. Below is a rule and regulation cheat sheet for Saltwater Fishing from mywfc.com. It’s a great document to keep on your boat.

Download Cheat Sheet

(PDF) Click here

What do you think? What are your thoughts about Fishing Season in South Florida? What tips would you add? Leave your questions and comments in the box below. Also, if you have a story about catching the Slam, please share!

For more information about Fishing Season contact our facility at 786-728-9988.