On September 14, 2018, Hurricane Florence lumbered ashore near Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina. As soon as the water receded, the BoatUS Catastrophe Team (CAT Team) arrived to begin the task of recovering its insured vessels. After most major storms, the damage is often widespread, with hundreds of boats stacked on each other, sinking, or even in backyards.
While the team found some severe damage at marinas, many boaters had sought protection from the storm by removing their boats from the water. Ashore, the team found marina parking lots crowded with stored boats. Many boat owners simply took their boats home and parked them in driveways, on streets or in the middle of open fields, away from falling trees. Catastrophic total losses, or those vessels that were totally destroyed, appeared to be minimal. Lesser damage meant boaters could get back on the water sooner.
“The combination of many vessels being a trailerable size, and that people in this part of the country are accustomed to hurricanes, helped,” said BoatUS CAT Team leader Mike McCook. “They recognized the warnings, had plans already prepared, and efficiently did what needed to be done.”
So what can boaters do this hurricane season?
1. Get your boat out of the water. The No. 1 way to reduce the potential for boat damage is to remove it from the water and store ashore on the highest ground possible. If you own a boat trailer, ensure it’s ready to go at a moment’s notice. If you don’t trailer, ask your marina to be put on a priority list for storm haulouts, sometimes referred to as “hurricane clubs.” Ensure your boat’s insurance policy will help to pay for the haulout so it’s an easy decision to make. The BoatUS Marine Insurance Programpays 50 percent of the cost of labor, up to $1,000, to have the boat hauled or moved to the safety of a hurricane hole, and the haulout does not penalize the policyholder. Once ashore, removing windage, such as biminis and sail furlers, and anchoring the boat to the ground with strapping has proven to reduce damage from high winds. Read more: