Transportation

How To Prepare Your Boat For The Next Big Storm

It’s not always fun in the sun for Houston’s boat owners and, in the event of another major flood, many of those boats could be out doing rescues

Hundreds of boat owners fanned out over the Houston region to rescue people from Harvey’s floodwaters. One of those was Mark Kuchera, general manager of Houston’s Premiere Boating Center.

Kuchera spent several long days doing rescues in north Harris County where he picked up flood victims in his 16-foot duck boat. He said the water was so high they were pulling people out of second-story windows. He also had an encounter with a very large submerged object.

“It was getting dark and I saw two silver things, and I’m like, what is that?” said Kuchera. “I had just went between two smokestacks of an eighteen-wheeler.”

We met Kuchera at the Houston Summer Boat Show, where many people are shopping to replace boats that were lost in Harvey’s floods. Some owners saw their boats crushed by floodwaters that engulfed boathouses. Other boats sunk or simply floated away.

Kuchera said he has gotten questions from some prospective customers about how to outfit a boat for rescues in the event of another big storm.

“Most of the best boats I saw doing water rescues were aluminum-style boats,” added Kuchera. “A good, 16-to-22 foot aluminum boat, it can take a lot of abuse if you were to hit a mailbox or something like that without doing damage.”

And Kuchera said it’s also good to have some extra safety equipment on hand.

“I normally only have enough life jackets in the boat for how many people I know are going on the boat with me. But when you see people that are wading in water, not sure of where they’re going, it’s just real helpful to be able to chunk them a life jacket,” said Kuchera. “I probably lost four life jackets and I don’t care because that person needed that life jacket a whole lot worse than I did.”

We also got some recommendations from David Christian of LMC Marine Center in Houston. He said if you’re looking for something for rescues, consider a boat that doesn’t sit too deep in the water.

“Most of your fishing boats, saltwater fishing boats, are designed to work in shallow water,” explained Christian. “It also happens to be what you need to float down a street.”

As for what you want to put on the boat, Christian said a spotlight and GPS are helpful for night rescues. A hydraulic jack plate can protect your outboard motor in shallow water. And something as simple as a long rod or stick can help you determine the depth of the water in unfamiliar places.

But whatever you have on hand, Christian says being ready to help is the most important thing.

“The good news is, having a boat is 90 percent of it.”

The Houston Summer Boat Show runs through Sunday at NRG Center.

Share

Gail Delaughter

Gail Delaughter

Transportation Reporter

From early-morning interviews with commuters to walks through muddy construction sites, Gail covers all aspects of getting around Houston. That includes walking, driving, cycling, taking the bus, and occasionally flying. Before she became transportation reporter in 2011, Gail hosted weekend programs for Houston Public Media. She's also covered courts in...

More Information