Cleaning up After a Hurricane

Author:
Publish date:
The shore of a power plant is not the ideal place to manage a salvage

The shore of a power plant is not the ideal place to manage a salvage

Last October, Hurricane Matthew left a trail of death, destruction and flooding between Haiti, Cuba, the Bahamas and most of the southeastern United States. It also damaged or destroyed thousands of boats, many of which had to be recovered by insurance companies in the days and weeks following Matthew.BoatUS puts Matthew’s total cost at approximately $110 million in damage to boats that had been driven ashore, smashed against docks or sunk. To keep it in perspective, however, superstorm Sandy caused closer to $650 million in damage to approximately 65,000 boats.

I recently spoke with some of the experts at BoatUS to find out what exactly happens after a storm like Matthew or Sandy, and what I learned was impressive, to say the least. The Boat US catastrophe (“cat”) team is made up of veteran professionals who are called in to do everything from survey boats to process claims, operate cranes and barges, and plan, organize and direct the best way to recover insured vessels. Local contractors are also employed to perform many of the recoveries under the direction of the cat team.

Some boat recoveries are simple, others…not so much. Cat team coordinator Mike McCook told me how complicated some salvage operations can become: like the time when the team had to recover a boat with its keel buried in the shore alongside a power plant; or the 42ft catamaran that ended up deep in a marshy woods, where it took four days to get it out. In the latter case, the team had to put down log mats so a crane could reach the boat, which it then “walked” back out under a bridge and to the water.

It became clear that boat recoveries are like snowflakes; no two are exactly the same. Every scene needs to be assessed individually to determine the safest and quickest course of action. Time is of the utmost importance, especially when it comes to vessels that may be potentially hazardous, posing a threat to the environment or a major inconvenience—for example, when a boat has landed in the middle of a major roadway. Cases like these typically take precedence, for obvious reasons.

As for writing off a boat rather than repairing it, according to Boat US vice president of public affairs Scott Croft, the majority of boats are repairable, but due to the average age of boats today, the cost of repairs often exceeds its value, in which case it’s totaled.

February 2017

Related

MHS-GMR_3549

New Multihulls 2018

Farrier F-22 New Zealander Ian Farrier ushered in a new genre of sailing with his folding-ama trailerable trimarans, the best-known of which are the Corsair designs. Farrier’s last project before he passed away last year was this sweet little tri. Available in three versions, ...read more

shutterstock_373701682

Cruising: Island Comeback

The U.S. Virgins Islands have surged back from the devastation of the 2017 hurricanes, with new infrastructure plans that will benefit charterers and cruisers alike. After hurricanes Irma and Maria roared through the Leeward Islands in September 2017, it was impossible to ...read more

albintoilet

Gear: Albin Pump Marine Toilet

Head Start Is there room for a new marine toilet? Albin Pump Marine thinks so, having just introduced its line of Swedish-built heads—ranging from compact to full-size models—to the American market. The toilets feature vitreous porcelain bowls and either wooden or thermoplastic ...read more

07n_45R2699

Multihull Sailor: Classic Cats

If you’re looking for a decent sub-40ft cruising cat, you have few choices when it comes to new-boat offerings. It is a well-known fact that the multihull market has taken off in a way very few could have predicted. Despite Hurricane Irma’s recent destruction of a large part of ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell. Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.com Thanks a bunch  This scene is very calm and seamanlike. No frantic rope throwing or shouting. As he passes the line to the gent on the dock, the crew on the boat says, quietly and clearly, “Would you ...read more

mcarthy-and-mouse

Experience: McCarthy and the Mouse

Sitting at the helm in a light breeze, my arms crusted with a fine rime of salt, my skin so dry I’d lost my fingerprints, I heard a clatter and a curse from below. There were only three of us a thousand miles from shore and only one on watch at a time. Usually, the off watch lay ...read more