FWC urges owners to prepare and secure boats for severe weather

With severe thunderstorms expected throughout north and central Florida on Tuesday the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission urged vessel owners to prepare to minimize weather impacts.

The storms will bring 25-35 mph sustained winds and frequent gusts of 45-55 mph.

The FWC offered advice for owners.

RELATED: Preparing for the storm: High winds, downed trees, potential power outages expected Tuesday

Move your vessel if you can and protect it if you can’t

If your boat can be trailered, haul it out of the water and move it to a safe location as far from tidal waters as possible. This includes kayaks and other recreational watercraft.If your vessel must stay in a marina berth, double all lines and rig cross-spring lines fore and aft, and attach lines high on pilings to allow for tidal rise or surge.If your vessel is at anchor, move to the most protected area possible and set out multiple anchors with at least a 10:1 scope, remove canvas coverings if possible, and remove or secure any sails.If your vessel is to remain on a mooring, make sure it is designed to withstand the load that your vessel will place on it. Inspect chains and swivels connecting to the mooring buoy and double up on the pendant.Remember to remove Electronic Position Indicating Radio Beacons (EPIRBs), life rings, life jackets and loose items from the boat and store them in a safe, indoor location.Use the Florida Boat Ramp Finder to find a ramp near you.

Cover all lines to prevent chafing

Wrap all lines where lines feed through chocks with tape, rags and rubber hoses or leather. Install fenders, fender boards or tires to protect the boat from rubbing against the pier, pilings or other boats.

Charge batteries and make sure they can run automatic bilge pumps throughout the storm

Consider adding backup batteries and shut off all other devices that consume electricity.

Do not stay onboard and do not venture out into rough conditions

If you’re onboard during a bad storm, you are risking your life and the lives of potential responders.Learn what Florida law says about mandatory marina evacuations. Chapter 327.59, F.S., Marina Evacuations.

After the storm, report issues to the FWC

Check marina eligibility for disaster relief through Small Business Administration loans. SBA Disaster Assistance.Report missing and/or damaged waterway markers.Report storm-damaged boats that might be lost or abandoned to your local law enforcement agency (preferred) or the FWC Division of Law Enforcement at 888-404-3922.Call 911 or use VHF Marine Radio Channel 16 to report distress and other emergencies. Social media should not be used to report life-threatening distress due to limited resources to monitor the dozens of social media platforms during severe storm events.

For more information, visit MyFWC.com/boating and click on “Boater Education.”

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