Beth Leonard

Director of Technical Services


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What do you do at BoatUS Marine Insurance?

As editor of Seaworthy magazine, I have the fascinating job of trolling through the marine insurance claims files in search of interesting stories and lessons learned. For more than 30 years, Seaworthy has tackled sinkings, groundings, theft, lightning strikes, fire, explosions, and other, less dramatic, ways boats go from seaworthy to not (think corrosion, rot, rust, and so on). I also work with our Catastrophe (CAT) teams to ferret out and share with our readers the lessons learned on minimizing boat damage in natural disasters like hurricanes, snow storms, and tornadoes. Seaworthy does not shirk from reporting on other critical boating topics like boaters vs. birds. (Hint: birds always win.)

How does your job impact our product or policyholders?

Seaworthy's mission is to give our members the information they need to keep themselves, their families, and their boats safe on the water. I try to combine the medicine of accident and damage prevention tips with a spoonful of sugar in the form of humor and real-life stories from our members. Seaworthy readers have always been eager contributors to the magazine, and the final issue each quarter ends up being a collaboration that includes many voices.

Do you own a boat? If so, what kind and where do you use it?

My husband and I own a 47-foot aluminum Van de Stadt Samoa named Hawk. We spent ten years living aboard her and sailing the "wrong" way around the world. We went as far north as the Arctic Circle and as far south as Cape Horn, and we sailed through the Southern Ocean under all of the Great Capes. We returned from our circumnavigation in 2009, and now we keep Hawk in the Chesapeake for most of the year. Hawk and my husband do have a tendency to wander off together to places like Nova Scotia and Maine, where I get to join them on my vacations.

Most unusual phone call, claim or assignment while at BoatUS?

After Hurricane Sandy, I was able to visit our CAT team salvors and surveyors in the field. The devastation was overwhelming, but the resilience and can-do spirit of the marina owners working to try to set things right was inspiring. We were allowed to go to areas that were still closed off to most people because boats were scattered everywhere and had to be moved to clear roads and allow electricity to be restored. Also, while most people only saw their neighborhood or town, we visited marinas from Staten Island to southern New Jersey, which gave us a an overview very few others were privileged to see.

Your favorite vacation spot?

Having spent two decades sailing around the world twice on two different boats, vacation is a slippery concept for me. I can say that on our second trip we ended up spending more than two years along the west coast of Chile in the labyrinth of islands and channels that stretch north for more than 1,000 nautical miles from Cape Horn. This is the most inaccessible, remote, uncivilized, windy and rainy place we have ever been, and it drew us in a way that no other place has ever done. We hope to go back some time and spend another year or so. But I can tell you, vacation is not the right word for it.

Tell us something that nobody knows about you.

I am not mechanical. Working with tools and fixing things comes very hard to me because it is not intuitive. But that's why I get so much pleasure out of it, and that lets me write about complicated topics so that others understand. If I get it,
anyone can!