Last week saw some of the most violent storms ever recorded in the Deep South. Some areas in Alabama and Florida actually received over 21 inches of rain in 24 hours! Boats that were tied off to their docks in some cases fared better than those stored on boatlifts. The rain came so fast and hard that deck drains couldn’t keep up. The result? Add the weight of the water to the hull and many lifts collapsed under the extreme load. It doesn’t take much. A 24’ well deck center console has approximately 480 cubic feet of open area between the hull side, the transom, and the bow. If you fill half that with water you’re looking at over 1,700 pounds of additional weight. In some cases just about double the hull weight. (There are 7.48 gallons of water per cubic feet at 62.4 pounds per cubic foot.) It’s no wonder so many boatlifts collapsed. Some of our dealers reported that the only boats to come through unscathed were those tied up to a SlideMoor system.
Here are my 5 suggestions on what to do ahead of a potentially dangerous non-tropical storm. Tropical Storms are for another time.
- Remove the transom drain plug if you’re on a lift.
- Clear all obstructions from the areas adjacent to the deck drains.
- Remove as much gear as possible from the boat.
- Tie down canvas, tight! Don’t try to cover the boat as the wind will most probably rip the canvas right at the grommets.
- Activate your bilge pump. If you don’t have a float switch, install one. They are cheap and do the job. Some bilge pumps have an internal float switch that turn the pump on when water gets to a certain height.
Sounds pretty simple doesn’t it? In reality, according to the US Coast Guard vessel causality reports, a major cause of sinking’s and/or water damage is from closed and/or obstructed drains. If a storm is headed your way make sure that the bilge pump is operational. Don’t worry about your house battery loosing power. If you have 2 batteries make sure the battery switch is turned to the service battery and not the engine start. A 1000 GPH (gallons per hour) bilge pump draws only 3 amps so if you have a 110 Amp deep cycle marine type battery, your good for at least 24 hours.