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Batten down the hatches and prepare your boat for Hurricane Matthew

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The path of potentially devastating Category 4 storm Hurricane Matthew, with 145 mile-per-hour winds, is still unclear. But as it heads north, the Southeastern part of the country is bracing for adirect hit.

Forecasting Matthew

And the governors in both Florida and North Carolina are taking no chances. Florida Gov. Rick Scott has already declared a state of emergency, as the Sunshine State expects to see the impact from this slow-moving storm start on Wednesday and continue churning through Saturday.

Anyone who has a boat moored or parked near the Caribbean or South Atlantic coasts needs to take these warnings seriously, said Vickie Waller, chief executive and founder of EZ Waves, an online boat charter service that provides international access to ship captains.

Waller said there are 10 steps you should take to prepare boats for a hurricane like Matthew.

  •  Take down and stow removable sails, covers or other items that could be damaged by wind.
  •  Remove objects that might become projectiles, such as fishing rods, hand tools and removable antennas.
  •  Double check to see that all bilge pumps, scuppers and other drainage devices are working properly. Tropical storms are often accompanied by a lot of rain. If your boat is on a trailer or a lift, make sure the bow is elevated so that excess water drains out of the cockpit.
  •  Check with your insurance carrier to see if they have any special instructions. Many carriers will pay to have a larger vessel hauled out and blocked and braced for a storm.
  •  If your vessel is going to stay in a marina, make sure that you double-lash and double-check all of your dock and mooring lines.
  •  If your vessel is going to stay on a trailer, make sure that it is not next to or under trees. Flying tree branches can wreak havoc.
  •  If you plan to evacuate make sure that your marina, storage yard or other vendors have the best contact information for you.
  •  If you are going to anchor in a safe harbor make sure that you anchor from the bow and put out a stern anchor or attach a line to a solid pillar, foundation or tree.
  •  If you have a tender or dinghy, separate them from your boat and store them in an enclosed building like a garage.
  •  If you have any food or perishables on board remove them in case you lose power.

No one can completely prepare for a deadly storm like Matthew, which has already dumped 40 inches of rain on Haiti and is gathering strength to assault Cuba. As for the U.S., “it’s too early to rule out what impacts … would occur,” said Dennis Feltgen, a spokesman for the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami.

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