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Insuring Against Future Hurricanes
By badriance - Published August 12, 2009 - Viewed 6743 times
A Blueprint on How to Minimize Catastrophic Losses
Some Intermediate-Term Solutions
First and foremost, whenever hurricane warnings have been posted, ALL boats must be prepared by their owners or by professionals. This is critical; boats that are ignored before storms are much more likely to come adrift and damage boats that were prepared. This has been true when a boat was in a slip, on a mooring, or in a canal; neglected boats account for a disproportionate share of hurricane damage.
In past storms, a large percentage of boats -- over 50% at some
At Sebastian River Marina on
When storage ashore isn’t an option, other marinas and yacht clubs have worked with boat owners to move boats to hurricane holes. At Dog River Marina in
Not all marinas have the staff or equipment necessary to move or haul and block boats. If arrangements can’t be made with a marina to prepare the boat, an absentee owner has to make arrangements before the start of the hurricane season to have the job done by a friend or professional. Note that BoatU.S. Marine Insurance will pay up to half the cost to haul and block a boat ashore or have it moved by a professional captain.
Preparations must be thorough. One TowBoatU.S. captain in
Planning for something as extraordinary as a hurricane includes an analysis of all available options. Where will the boat be safest? Most boats will be better protected ashore, if they’ll remain safely above the surge. Others may be more secure on a mooring, a canal or hurricane hole. Boats that remain in their slips must be prepared with longer and larger-diameter lines and protected against chafe. All boats must be stripped of things like biminis and dodgers to minimize windage.
Long Term Solutions
Ultimately, efforts by boat owners and marinas to minimize damage have to include local and state governments. Area governments, which benefit financially from recreational boating, must become involved in coordinating hurricane preparation efforts.
This is already being done in a few areas.
As marinas are upgraded and rebuilt, they must be made more “hurricane resistant”. When new pilings were installed at its floating docks, Columbia Island Marina in
Cement pilings, if they’re used, also have to be designed to withstand tremendous forces; substandard cement pilings are far more likely to fail. And protective seawalls, which had previously been a foot or two above normal high tide, must be tall enough to resist surge.
Older boat storage racks have proven to be especially vulnerable in high winds. In 2005’s Hurricane Wilma, three large racks collapsed damaging hundreds of boats. These buildings didn’t have to collapse; steel structures can be built to withstand just about any wind speed.
Building codes in much of
Finally, the tie-down system used successfully at
Technology can also help. For instance, rope companies like Yale Cordage developed a braid-on-braid mooring pennant that has a nylon core for stretch to absorb energy and a polyester outer core to resist chafe. Other rope companies have similar products. Perhaps a rating system could be developed to let buyers know how sturdy a line is likely to be in a storm.
The Hazelett Rode, which was developed over almost 20 years, has considerable strength and the ability to absorb tremendous amounts of energy. Finally, helical moorings, which are drilled down into the seabed, should eventually replace traditional mushroom and deadweight moorings. However, it’s possible that the three could be used together to make a mooring that would resist almost any surge and wind speed.
Other innovations that could reduce damage have actually been around for decades. New folding cradles do a better job of supporting a boat’s hull than jack stands and can be strapped into the ground. Are there other ideas? With each hurricane we learn a little more about what works and what doesn’t work.
A Sense of Urgency
Aside from better technology, improves marinas, and even help from local governments, the one thing that is essential to combating damage in future storms is a sense of urgency. What would happen if, by some magical stroke of good luck, all of the hurricanes that form in 2006 were to pass harmlessly out to sea? Would people still have the same sense of urgency? Even if the coastal states get lucky this year, luck can’t be depended on every year to protect boats from hurricanes. Only planning and taking action can do that.
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