Over 65,000 recreational boats were damaged or lost as a result of Hurricane Sandy, according to the Boat Owner’s Association of the United States (BoatUS), resulting in damage estimated around $650 million, making the late October storm the single-largest industry loss since the Association began keeping track in 1966.
“We are all reeling from the huge impact this storm has had on communities and people’s lives,” said BoatUS AVP Public Affairs Scott Croft. “We’ve never seen anything like it. The scope of the damage to boats is unprecedented, affecting large areas from the Atlantic seaboard as far inland as the Great Lakes, with the majority of damage in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut. The combination of boats stored ashore at low elevations and record high surge levels caused hundreds, if not thousands, of boats to float away into neighborhoods, parks and marshes. The tri-state coastline left no place for the surge to go, but up. While some boats that stayed in the slips did fine, other boats tied to floating docks simply lifted off too-short pilings and floated away — still tied to the dock. Some vessels never made it out of their slip and rest on the bottom.”
The BoatUS Catastrophe Response Team reports that the marine community has rallied to gain the upper hand on the recovery process. “If there is a story to tell, it’s about how the boating industry got together immediately after the storm to help each other out and get boats back in their place,” said BoatUS Catastrophe Team Member Jack Hornor. While some New Jersey barrier islands continue to restrict access delaying boat recovery efforts, some marinas, boat clubs and yards have recovered their customers’ boats and put them back on blocks to undergo damage assessments.
Many boating facilities, especially those on New Jersey’s coast, Staten Island and western Long Island, sustained significant damage to infrastructure such as docks, workshops, clubhouses and equipment, which will likely have an impact on the 2013 boating season.
BoatUS estimates over 32,000 boats were damaged in New York, followed by New Jersey’s 25,000, Connecticut’s 2,500 and 6,000 remaining in various states.
Dollar damage to recreational boats in New York is estimated at $324 million, followed by $242 million in New Jersey and $23 million in Connecticut. Previously, in the 2005 storm season, Hurricane Wilma and Katrina damage was estimated at over $700 million combined.
As with any storm, the BoatUS Marine Insurance Program will be investigating hurricane damage prevention measures taken by boaters and possible new solutions, but one early indication is that boats tied-up to protected floating docks with tall pilings had the best chance of survival with Sandy.
“However, you can’t base a hurricane preparation plan on one storm. While storm surge was the biggest factor here, wind and rain can be major factors in the next one. Hindsight is only good if you look at the bigger picture,” said BoatUS Director of Technical Services Bob Adriance.
One new factor that is affecting post-hurricane boat recovery efforts? Snow. BoatUS reports there is some concern in the industry that storm damaged vessels may not be winterized in time with the arrival of colder weather.