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Hurricane Ike - Lessons Ive Learned

By Terri Parrow Botsford - Published October 01, 2008 - Viewed 8972 times

I’m not a writer, nor am I an insurance person, but I am a boater and after spending some time with the BoatUS CAT Team (Catastrophe Team) I learned a number of things:

1. There’s no such thing as a boater having no insurance; they are actually self insured.  If your boat ended up like one of these at any of the marinas we visited, you will still have to pay to have your boat removed and disposed.  If your boat sunk, you’ll still need to have it hauled, removed and disposed.  If it has any fuel in it, you could also be liable for environmental damages.  So when it comes to boats, there’s no such thing as no insurance; when you’re self insured the costs for wreck removal becomes 100% your responsibility.  It isn’t as easy to walk away from a boat as it is a car.  A car you can hire someone rather cheaply to haul it away and sometimes you can even get someone to pay you to haul your car for scrap metal.  It doesn’t work that way for your boat.

2.  You have to do more than putting extra lines on your boat.  I saw plenty of boats with extra lines, but they were basically the same as when you normally tie up your boat.  When you put more lines on for a major storm surge, then the lines need to be reconfigured and longer.  If they’re too short, even if there are two lines instead of one, then the lines will break or the whole piling could be pulled out. Nylon lines can stretch 40% longer if needed, but if the line is only 10’ long, 40% is only 4 feet, where as if the line is 20’ long, it will stretch 8’.  If you’re expecting a 10 – 12’ storm surge, then you’ll want more like 25-30’.

3.  Some people don’t take down their sails or biminis because they’re too busy. and they figure that the insurance company will pay for new ones if they get blown apart in a hurricane.  Wrong.  Many insurance companies don’t cover sails and biminis for a named storm, or if they do, they depreciate them AND the deductible for a Named Storm is so high, these items will fall under it.  That means the cost of replacing these items would come out of your pocket.  Then, it could also take months before the local sail makers could even get to your sails with all the other business a Hurricane creates.  

4.  Some marinas are better protected than others. 

a.    You could have beautiful, floating, cement docks, but if the pilings are shorter than the storm surge, then they’ll all be floating away with the storm surge. For example, Bayland Marine in Baytown Texas.

b.     Protection from wind and waves makes a world of difference (Watergate versus Waterford Marinas).

c.    Floating docks and very tall piling fair much better than fix docks.

d.    The best protection is floating docks, very tall pilings, protection from wind and waves and good insurance.

5.  No two hurricanes are a like.  Aside from differences in wind speed, there's the storm surge, whether it hits at high tide or low tide and which side or quadrant of the hurricane (the NorthEast quadrant is the worst) you get hit with.  There's no way to easily predict what will happen with all these variables, so it's better to prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

6. The stress that a major storm puts on cleats, eyehooks, and pilings is unbelievable.

Terri Parrow Botsford
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