With Tropical Storm Bonnie threatening, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is urging boat owners to secure their vessels properly before the storm arrives. Unsecured boats can cause pollution, damage waterway infrastructure, interfere with navigation, and cause costly, dangerous or even deadly boat accidents.
“Vessels that break free can cause problems to waterways by causing fuel and oil pollution, drifting into bridges, docks, seawalls and piers, and interfering with navigation,” said Capt. Carol Keyser with FWC’s Boating and Waterways Section in a news release.
“Now is the time to properly secure your vessel to make sure it doesn’t break free and cause damage to property or result in people getting injured.”
Florida law can hold you responsible for costs and damage caused by unmoored or abandoned vessels. Unfortunately, the state is often overwhelmed with lost and damaged vessels after significant storms.
If you trailer your boat, the FWC recommends you secure it in a safe location, let some of the air out of the trailer’s tires, block the wheels and, if possible, anchor the boat down and/or add weight to the boat to help keep it in place in high wind.
If you see a vessel that has broken free, the FWC encourages you to call its offices at 888-404-3922 or to report the vessel to local law enforcement.
Thrill Seekers Gamble on Boat Accidents and Put More Than Themselves at Risk
During heavy storms, some people intentionally put themselves at risk to take the opportunity to jump waves. Unfortunately, the FWC’s Division of Law Enforcement and local law enforcement are tasked with the expensive and dangerous burden of rescuing them when they get in trouble.
“Thrill-seekers are advised to avoid the waters and high winds created from the storm,” says Captain Keyser. “Please keep in mind that when people choose to act irresponsibly, they jeopardize others. They cause law enforcement officers, rescue workers and other emergency personnel to risk their lives unnecessarily.”
“FWC urges boat owners to secure their vessels before storm hits” (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission News Release, July 23, 2010)