After Hurricane Irma it is no question that the residents of Brevard County would like to get their lives back to normal. For 321 Boat Club Members, this means getting back out on the Indian River Lagoon. After a serious storm like Irma, there are many obstacles and conditions it is important to be aware of. We want all of our boat club members to be safe, once we’re open for business we believe it is important to inform you of the best way to navigate troubled waters.
What You Can’t See
When Hurricane Irma made landfall on the State of Florida, she was a Category 4 hurricane. Here in the Indian River Lagoon we received an average of 80 mph sustained winds with gusts up to 110 mph. Further, this storm dumped a record ten inches of rain in our county. These hurricane-force winds and the torrential downpour that accompanied them had a massive impact on the lagoon. Water levels in the lagoon have risen by feet and this makes the normally placid lagoon a dangerous waterway. Upended trees, limbs, sunken boats and shifted sandbars have created a brand new lagoon floor that, until the water clears up and recedes back to normal, we won’t have a great idea of the obstacles that lie under wake. When boating after a storm like Irma it is important to treat the lagoon like water you’ve never navigated before – because essentially it is. Go slowly, watching for objects peeking from below the surface. Pay attention to your depth finder and make notes of any changes. Be aware of your surroundings and do your best to not run aground.
Irma wasn’t just difficult for mankind, it had an impact on every animal that lives in the estuary. This includes, alligators, dolphins, manatees, fish, and birds. Lumbering manatees may be disoriented looking for food, and it is more likely for you to run into a disgruntled alligator looking for a new place to nest. Getting in the water after a massive storm is not recommended at all. Between the displaced animals and debris floating around, you never know what you may run into – and it’s best to run into these things from the safety of a deck. Also, sadly many animals may have been killed during the storm. It is important to watch where you’re going in case you happen to come across deceased marine life, hitting them with a boat at high speeds can be dangerous for your crew and your vessel.
Another danger in the water following a hurricane is the debris floating around. We have discussed the dangers of submerged debris, but floating debris is just as dangerous for your boat, and for your crew. Street signs, palm fronds, pieces of boat docks, furniture, screen enclosures – anything that was on land can potentially have made its way to the water. It is extremely important that you keep your eyes peeled for any foreign matter in the lagoon while you’re cruising around. Striking wood, aluminum, or any form of debris can be damaging to the boat you’re renting as well as to the friends and family that you are cruising around with. In an effort to avoid injury to your guests and damage to your boat, be very aware of what’s drifting about.
The water is very dangerous after any storm, but more dangerous than ever after a catastrophic hurricane like Irma. There is an extreme amount of water in the lagoon and this can make water conditions extremely dangerous. Strong currents can make it difficult to navigate and to anchor if that is your intention. Make sure that you can handle maneuvering your boat rental in the current and if you feel uncomfortable, return the boat. There will be other days when conditions are better, those are the perks of Boat Club Membership.
Being safe on the water is the most important thing about boat membership at 321 Boat Club. If conditions are terrible, we will ensure that our members understand that their safety could be in in peril and will only rent boats if we know that it will be safe. We trust that our members are competent and confident about their ability to drive all the boats in our fleet. We wish you a safe recovery and can’t wait to see you back out on the water.