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Prepare Your Seawall, Dock, and Boat Lift For Severe Weather

by Duncan Seawall

Tropical storms, hurricanes, and other torrential rain and wind events are capable of producing high tides and storm surge power that can overcome the normal protection provided by docking your boat. Powerful storms have caused millions of dollars in damage to boat owner's seawall, docks, and boat lifts. It doesn't matter where you your boat is kept, if it's moored in the water, you can significantly minimize damage when you prepare your seawall, dock, and boat lift for severe weather.

Related Blog: 5 Things You Can Do to Extend the Life of Your Dock


Begin With a Seawall and Dock Inspection 

Your seawall is your first line of defense when extreme weather hits and the possibility of a storm surge is real. When the water levels are at their lowest, check your seawall or bulkhead for any signs of cracking, bowing, or erosion. While surface cracks are normal, you may need to hire a marine contractor to determine if the cracks affect the integrity of the seawall. Also, check the following seawall conditions:

  • the upper wall is not leaning from their vertical position
  • no signs of concrete spalling concrete or exposed rebar
  • no water is being trapped behind the wall

If your dock or boat lift have weathered a number of years in service, it is possible it will fail under the strength of heavy winds and rushing waters. The dock pilings and above water structure should be inspected for structural integrity. Before a storm arrives, your boat should be securely strapped down with extra lines to minimize swinging during the storm. If you have removed your boat from the boat lift, protect the lift by raising the cradle beams to their highest position and securely tie them to the piles.


Prepare Your Boat Before a Storm Event

If weather forecasts indicate extreme flood conditions that may impact your boat lift, you can always remove your boat's gearboxes and motors and store in a dry location. Depending on the type of boat you own, here are some other tips that can help protect your investment before a storm occurs:

  • Make sure tie lines are long enough so your boat can rise with the water level and not pull out pilings
  • If possible, remove the sails, mainsails, and roller furling headsails to prevent wind damage if the sail unfurls.
  • Remove cockpit dodgers, awnings, Bimini tops and anything that is not bolted down from the boat
  • Back up your mooring provisions with additional anchorage to gain out as much ground tackle as possible.

Finally, consider the fact that line chafing has caused more boating losses than any other storm-related malfunctions. Protect your chafing gear with materials such as leather sewn over the point of line contact and double-up on your primary dock lines, in case one fails. 


Protect Your Waterfront Property and Boat

Global climate changes are presenting increasingly brutal storms with every passing year. If your seawall has over 20 years in service, it is certainly time for an inspection and timely repairs. But, the best protection against the heavy loads caused by high levels of ground water and violent storms may be the installation of a new seawall to protect your investment. 


Precast concrete seawalls will add value to your waterfront property. For non-coastal, freshwater properties most owners consider a wood retaining wall because there is no concern for salt corrosion. For high, exposed wall fronts, a steel, interlocking panel seawall offers unparalleled strength for a continuous wall.


If your dock is undersized for your present boating needs, expect considerably more damage during windy conditions. A customized dock and boat lift are your safest bets to quickly remove your boat from the water when a devastating hurricane is approaching. Visit Duncan Seawalls for all your commercial and residential marine craft needs to protect your investment during severe weather.

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