Before The Storm
Securing your boat lift before a hurricane hits is crucial to prevent damage to your boat, lift, and surrounding property. Here are some important tips to help you properly prepare:
- Early Preparation: Begin preparing well in advance of the hurricane's expected arrival. Waiting until the last minute can lead to inadequate securing.
- Check Local Regulations: Familiarize yourself with any local regulations or guidelines for securing boat lifts during hurricanes. Follow them closely to ensure you're in compliance and taking the necessary precautions.
- Remove Boat: Whenever possible, remove your boat from the lift and store it in a safe location away from the storm's path. This is the most effective way to prevent damage to both your boat and the lift.
- Secure Boat on Lift: If removing the boat is not feasible, secure it on the lift by using heavy-duty straps or chains to anchor it firmly to the lift's frame. Make sure the boat is centered and balanced on the lift to minimize stress on the structure.
- Inspect and Maintain Lift: Regularly inspect and maintain your boat lift to ensure all components are in good working condition. Replace worn or damaged parts promptly.
- Reduce Elevation: Lower the boat lift as close to the water as safely possible. This reduces wind resistance and minimizes the lift's exposure to the elements.
- Remove Accessories: Take off any removable accessories, such as canopies, covers, or electronics, from both the boat and the lift. These items can become projectiles during strong winds.
- Secure Loose Items: Store loose items around the boat lift area, such as dock boxes, fuel tanks, and chairs, indoors or in a secure location to prevent them from becoming hazards during high winds.
- Use Hurricane Straps: Install hurricane straps or braces designed for boat lifts. These can add extra stability and support to the lift structure.
- Double-Check Lines: If you're using lines to secure your boat lift, make sure they are in good condition and securely fastened. Use high-quality lines that are suitable for marine conditions.
- Turn Off Power: Disconnect any electrical connections to the boat lift, including power sources and remote control systems, to prevent electrical damage or hazards.
- Secure Dock: If your boat lift is part of a larger dock system, secure the dock itself by using proper anchoring and reinforcing techniques.
- Document and Insure: Document the condition of your boat lift and boat before the storm arrives. This documentation can be helpful when filing insurance claims in case of damage.
- Emergency Plan: Develop an emergency plan for your boat and boat lift. Ensure that you and your family know what to do and where to go in case the situation becomes unsafe.
- Stay Informed: Monitor weather forecasts and official announcements from local authorities. Stay informed about the hurricane's progress and adjust your preparations accordingly.
Remember, safety is paramount. If local authorities issue evacuation orders, prioritize your personal safety and that of your family. Property can be replaced, but lives cannot.
After the Storm
After a hurricane, ensuring the safety and functionality of your boat lift's electrical components is crucial. Follow these steps for thorough electrical inspections and maintenance:
- Safety First: Before performing any inspections, ensure your safety by turning off the main power supply to your boat lift.
- Motor Inspection: Carefully examine the boat lift motor for signs of submersion or water damage. If the motor was not submerged, it may still be salvageable. However, any exposure to heavy rain or saltwater can lead to corrosion over time. If there is any doubt, consult a professional electrician to assess the motor's condition and determine if replacement is necessary.
- Cable Examination: The cable should be examined by a professional and the lift re-cabled if necessary. Inspect the boat lift cable closely. While it is designed to withstand high water and storm surges, it can still be damaged by rubbing, chafing, pinching, or crushing. If there are visible signs of wear or damage, it's recommended to have a professional assess the cable's integrity and replace it if needed. If the cable hasn't been replaced in over two years, consider scheduling a re-cabling to ensure optimal performance and safety.
- Structural Assessment: Since hurricanes can cause flying debris and intense forces, inspect the structural components of your boat lift. Check for any visible damage, deflection in I-beams or channels, or signs of structural compromise. If you observe significant damage, it might be necessary to consider upgrading your boat lift for enhanced durability and safety.
- GFCI Replacement: Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs) are essential for electrical safety, especially in outdoor settings prone to water exposure. If your boat lift's GFCI was exposed to water during the hurricane, it must be replaced without hesitation. Consult a professional electrician to ensure proper replacement and compliance with electrical codes. Consider using boat lift motors with pre-installed GFCIs to simplify the replacement process.
- Rigging Fasteners Inspection: While examining the cable, inspect all fasteners and hardware associated with your boat lift. Look for signs of damage, missing fasteners, or looseness. Damaged or missing fasteners should be replaced promptly to maintain the structural integrity of the lift. Make sure to use fasteners that are rated and tested for use with your specific boat lift model.
- Professional Assessment: For a comprehensive evaluation of your boat lift's electrical components, it's advisable to seek the expertise of a licensed electrician or a professional specializing in boat lift maintenance and repair. They can provide a thorough inspection, identify potential issues, and recommend appropriate actions to ensure your boat lift operates safely and efficiently.
Remember that proper maintenance and timely inspections are essential for preserving the longevity of your boat lift and ensuring the safety of your property and those around you.