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Storm Damage to Boat Docks
By the RestorationSOS Educational Staff
When severe storms, tropical storms or hurricanes strike, the damage to homes and businesses can be unbelievable. These systems pack a considerable wallop and are fully capable of wiping structures and even entire neighborhoods off the map. What then can be done for those structures that are located on even more unstable conditions? Namely, the boat docks, slips, and marinas that dot the shoreline and will be the first structures affected by any incoming weather system. Boats and their moorings should be properly protected against the onslaught of any major storm.
Floating docks get rid of the need to provide for longer lines to accommodate higher tides, but there are still several steps to be taken when a tropical storm is knocking on your door. First, you should always tie up your boat bow in, especially power boats, since the overall design of the dock provides the maximum protection possible. If a fender pile location provides an issue, it is up to the boat owner to decide whether bow in or bow out tie up works the best.
How to Prepare Your Boat Dock for Storms
The spring line length should be adjusted to make sure the boat doesn't sit too deeply in the slip. Repeated use may stretch dock lines up to 30% and what may appear to be a normal standoff from the walkway will not be enough to properly secure the boat in the event of a major storm.
You should also double up on the number of lines used to secure the boat and the dock. Lines typically break under stress so having a backup is always a good idea. Never double lines to the same cleat, use alternate or overlapping attachment locations.
If possible, use new lines to secure the boat to the dock. New lines won't be as worn or frayed as older ones and will provide an additional level of strength. You want your dock to be as secure as possible, since you could be held liable if your boat breaks loose and causes damage to someone else's property.
Install chafing guards at any point where lines have contact with cleats and rails and add fender assemblies between boats and fingers. If your dock is of the double occupancy type, tie up lines between boats, as this will keep the boats off their fingers. Make sure both boat owners agree to this procedure before executing it.
Reduce chances for wind damage by removing sails, covers, biminis and any other exposed canvas or covering. Any inflatable objects or lightweight dinghies should be brought ashore. Small boats should be removed from the dock area and stored somewhere inland.
News reports always show boats being picked up and thrown ashore. Take the time before a storm arrives to secure your boat, your dock, and your peace of mind.
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