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Hawaii’s boaters must prepare for hurricanes now

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Sunday, June 1 is the start of Hawaii’s official hurricane season, which lasts until December. That means it’s time for recreational boaters to prepare for the possible arrival of those disastrous tropical storms. And although such storms have come up short of the Islands in recent years, there are many folks on Kauai who can attest to the destruction caused by hurricanes Iwa in 1982 and Iniki in 1992.

This year the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is predicting a near-normal to above-normal season for the Central Pacific, with a potential of four to seven tropical depressions, tropical storms, or hurricanes.

For the general public there are suggestions for preparing for the eventuality of such events in everyone’s phone book, however little is applicable to the recreational boater.

Fortunately a number of tips have been developed for boat owners and marina operators in hurricane-prone locations like Hawaii that can reduce damage to vessels and improve the odds of a quicker recovery.

It has been determined the most important task is to create 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.

Then, if possible, you should arrange with your marina in advance to get your boat out of the water and onto high ground. It has been found that boats that have been brought ashore and secured to the ground tend to experience much less damage. Remember however, once hurricane warnings have been posted, marina operators will normally be far too busy to accommodate any last minute requests.

If your boat must remain at a dock, extra dock lines and chaffing gear are strongly recommended, with particular attention to potential chafe areas such as chocks, pilings, pulpits, and dock edges. And you should certainly replace all older dock lines that have been weakened by salt, dirt and UV exposure.

No matter where you must leave your boat, anything that creates windage, such as dinghies, Bimini tops, dodgers, outriggers, antennas, 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 the mast is left up, all sails and covers must be removed.

In addition to these suggestions, boat owners should check out the valuable hurricane preparedness information on the BoatUS Web site.

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