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Protecting your Boat

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  • Bridges will be in “lock down” position and closed to boat traffic approximately 3½ hours after an evacuation order is issued or when the winds reach 40 miles per hour, whichever is earlier. This may be as much as, or more than, 23 hours prior to the time that the hurricane makes landfall.
  • sailboatNever stay with your boat.
  • Your boat should be stripped of anything that can become loose during the storm. This would include unstepping the mast in sailboats.
  • Boat documents, radios and other valuables should be removed from the vessel prior to the storm, since you never know how long it will take for you to get back to your boat once the storm passes.
  • Advance planning cannot guarantee that your boat will survive a hurricane; however, it can improve the chances of your boat surviving a storm.
  • Broward County has a Hurricane Flotilla Plan which assists in the timely, orderly evacuation of boats before bridges lock down to accommodate vehicular evacuations.
  • Small boats that do not require bridge opening do not need to wait for a flotilla to form.    
  • The timing of the flotilla and the location of harbors where boats participating will congregate will be issued at the time of the weather emergency.

If your boat is easily trailerable, store it ashore, far from the danger of high water. Follow these tips:

  • If you must move your boat, first inspect the trailer to ensure that it is in proper operating condition. Check tires (including spare), wheel bearings, tow hitch and lights.
  • If you can, put your boat and trailer in a garage. If they must be left out, secure them to strong trees or a "deadman" anchor. Strip off every thing that could be torn loose by a strong wind.
  • Increase the weight of your trailered outboard boat by filling it with fresh water and leaving in the drainplug (inboard boats must be drained to avoid motor damage). Insert wood blocks between the trailer frame and the springs for extra support with the added weight.

If your boat must stay in the water, you have three options:

  • BERTH at a dock which has sturdy pilings and offers reasonable shelter from open water and storm surge. Double up all mooring lines but provide enough slack so your boat can rise with the higher tides. Cover all lines with chafe protectors (double neoprene garden hose cut along the side) at points where the line is likely to wear and put out extra fenders and fenderboards (the more the better).
  • ANCHOR your boat in a protected harbor where the bottom can allow a good anchor hold. An advantage to anchoring is that the boat can more easily respond to wind and water changes without striking docks or other boats than when moored. Heavy and extra anchors are needed for this option and enough line should be on hand to allow a scope of at least 10:1 for each anchor.
  • HURRICANE HOLES are ideal locations to moor your boat during a hurricane. These are deep, narrow coves or inlets that are surrounded by a number of sturdy trees which block the wind and provide a tie-off for anchor lines. The best location for a hurricane hole is one far enough inland to avoid the most severe winds and tides, yet close enough to reach under short notice. You may want to scout out a satisfactory hurricane hole ahead of time!

Broward County Flotilla Plan

Phase I

  • The Broward County Sheriff Marine Patrol will notify all flotilla participants that Phase I operations are in effect.
  • Marine patrols will survey the waterways for hazards (such as barges) and determine ownership so that they may be moved or secured.
  • Boat owners should fuel up prior to moving vessels to safe harbor, and store deck equipment.

Phase II

  • The Broward County Sheriff Marine Patrol notifies all flotilla operations participants that Phase II is in effect and that the flotilla movement will cease 3 ½ hours after the Evacuation Order is issued.
  • The Fort Lauderdale Police Department Marine Patrol will be deployed north and south of New River to supervise and assist in the formation of flotillas.
  • Flotillas will be formed – north of New River in the Bahia Mar area and south of New River in the Pier 66 area.
  • The Marine Patrol will be deployed in the I-95 overpass and New River area to assist westward movement of flotillas.
  • The Florida Marine Patrol will be on standby. Their assistance will be authorized through the State via the Emergency Operations Center.
  • U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary vessels will be deployed to direct boats to the flotilla formation. Regular Coast Guard vessels will be on full alert to render assistance.
  • Communications to the bridge tenders will be via the Fort Lauderdale Communications Dispatch Center and/or the Marine Command Post.
  • During the flotilla, disabled boats shall be taken in tow and not allowed to block the river. Marine Command Patrol will make a report of the disabled boat.
  • When the Marine Patrol Commander feels there are a sufficient number of vessels, there will be a signal for moving up the river. There is no specific time sequence for flotilla launchings.

End of Flotilla

  • Flotilla operations will cease approximately 3 ½ hours after the Evacuation Order is issued, so that bridges can be locked down for vehicular traffic.
  • The Broward County Sheriff Marine Patrol will inform all flotilla operations participants of the time that flotilla movement must cease.
  • The County Emergency Management Division will contact the U.S. Coast Guard and request that all drawbridges be positioned down and locked in place.
  • Marine Patrols will continue patrol operations until hurricane conditions force them to safe harbor.