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September 16, 2003

BOATERS WOULD BE WISE TO PREPARE FOR POSSIBLE VISIT FROM ISABEL

With the latest computer projections showing that portions of Pennsylvania may get an unwanted visitor in the form of Hurricane Isabel, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission is suggesting that boat owners make some common sense preparations.  Now is the time to take action to prepare for this storm.

The Commission is reminding the public about the dangers of high, fast moving water.   Even a moderate current can exert several tons of force.  Floodwater is often cold and chocked with debris, adding to the potential danger.  Boaters should avoid recreational boating in flooded areas. If you must be on a boat in flood conditions, wear a life jacket.

Many boats are docked at marinas on waters that may be affected by Isabel.  Boaters are reminded to contact their marina operators and take recommended precautions in order to safeguard their boats. 

Other small watercraft may be beached or loosely fastened along stream banks and lake shores.  Owners of boats kept in low-lying areas should move them to less flood-prone areas.  Although it is recommended that canoes, kayaks, and rowboats moored in such locations be moved to higher ground, at a minimum, owners of such boats should ensure that they are firmly secured so they will not be washed away if water levels rise. 

Heavy rains are expected to accompany Hurricane Isabel on her journey inland, raising the potential for flooding.  Unsecured boats pose two problems in a flood.  First, they can be swept along with other debris, potentially increasing flood damage along the way.  Second, if they are lost but recovered by another individual, the original owners may face difficulties reclaiming their craft. 

Small, unpowered boats are not required to be titled in Pennsylvania, and only a fraction are registered. With little in the way of a "paper trail," positive proof of ownership can be difficult or impossible to establish on found boats. As a result, each year the PFBC takes into possession numerous small boats for which legal ownership cannot be determined.  These boats are later sold at auction.  In other cases, individuals finding lost or abandoned boats may have ownership claims. A little preparation now can save headaches later.

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