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A companion piece to our Inshore column in the October 18, 2018 weekly edition of The Fisherman, as Capt. Frank Dudis shares a few additional tips on securing your boat before a passing storm.
By Capt. F.R. Dudis
Always make sure your boat can't get trapped under a dock in a rising tide. "Lots of boats sink this way, so beware," the author said.

In The Fisherman’s October 18, 2018 edition, Capt. Frank Dudis covers a few of the essentials (Inshore: To Haul or Not to Haul). “For those keeping her in the slip, keep in mind that the best possible slip you can have is one with taller pilings in each corner,” Dudis writes, adding “The pilings should be at least 6 feet above the gunwale of the boat. If you have shorter pilings and you get a heavy storm surge and start rocking your boat could wind up getting pushed up on top of the piling which could breach the hull and sink it.”

For those looking to ride out any future storms, here are a few additional tips from Capt. Dudis to help your boat last in your slip during a blow.

Double All Dock Lines. Make them both the equal lengths sharing the strain- and double the strength of the holding power. One line shorter than the other would mean only one line bearing all the stress at a time.

Chafing Gear. Wear. Lines that touch the gunnels or docks will wear quickly in a wind and rocking boat sawing at them. Put a section of split open garden hose or wrap cloth like old jeans over it and secure with zip ties or tape over that area. Electrical tape works great and so do wire tie them in place over the lines to be protected.

Larger Lines. Put the biggest dock lines you can fit. Your cleats limit that line size. Most 18-28 footers can accommodate 1/2-inch three-strand nylon lines. If bigger lines will fit(e.g. 5/8th inch) through your boat's cleats- do it.

Docks & Cleats. A pile is better than a screw in dock mounted cleat. Few dock mounted cleats are thru bolted with fender washers or a backing plate like your boat cleats are. And that dock is really a collection of rusting dry wall screws for the most part.

Plug Up Scuppers. More boats sink in a slip from stern-to sea conditions than for rainwater not draining. Use wet rags jammed in.

Share the Watch. Hook up with a few other “reliable” marina people who have boats in your marina and you can trust Then schedule visits so that your boat (snap a picture please) and theirs is checked two or three times each day by one of you in that group. Get onboard and look in the bilge each time. Boats do not break lose or sink all that quickly. A morning and evening onboard boat visit should do just fine.

Charge the Battery. Make sure that the battery(s) is/are all charged up and in good condition (not over 3 years old). Bilge pumps will de-water the rain. Your biggest enemy is the wind and a surging tide.

Your Canvas is a Sail. The wind will use it to beat up your boat. And tear it to shreds while it’s at it. Roll it up securely and/or stow it.

A Big One. Make sure on non-floating docks (fixed docks) that your boat can not get trapped under a dock in a rising tide. Lots of boats sink this way, so beware! Make sure the lines do not let that happen on a very high rising tide.

Be Somewhere Else. It goes without saying, trailer-able boats are easily located out of harm’s way (ocean and baywise anyway). Slip bound boats have a decision to make- haul and hope. Or weather it. Some charters in Sandy Hook, NJ area ran their boat up the Shrewsbury River during Superstorm Sandy to spend the storm on it in the relative protections of the back river.

Go Topless. Remove and secure bimini tops, Eisenglass, etc. It becomes a sail to wrestle with the mooring lines and the wind will eventually destroy it. Even in your backyard. A friend had his 14 foot tin boat on a trailer with the 3rd wheel moved in his backyard by Sandy.

The author is a USCG licensed 50 Ton Master and longtime Sea Tow captain who teaches classes at N.J. Boating College, LLC. For more of his tips on riding out the storm, look for the October 18, 2018 edition of The Fisherman weekly.