Seaworthy | From The BoatUS Insurance Files

Hurricane Resources For Boaters

By Beth Leonard
Published: June/July 2013

With many areas still recovering from Sandy, hurricane season is upon us once again. Here are the resources you need to be prepared.

Photo of Sandy's surge compared to other high-surge events
Photo: Don Launer

Sandy's surge compared to other high-surge events

Superstorm Sandy, which walloped the northeast coast in October 2012, reminded all of us that surge can cause at least as much damage as wind. Sandy's surge, which exceeded 10 feet in the hardest hit areas like Staten Island and northern New Jersey, overwhelmed the infrastructure at hundreds of marinas, floating docks off pilings, destroying fixed docks, and carrying away boats on the hard. It would be easy to conclude that preparations didn't matter this time around, that nothing could have prevented the devastation. But that would be the wrong lesson to take from Sandy. Our research shows that boats stood a much higher chance of surviving where marinas and boat owners prepared for the surge specifically. The real lesson to take from Sandy is that the right preparations, designed to address the real risks, can and do work. So, as the 2013 tropical storm season begins, let's look at what you should do to beat the odds should a hurricane come calling.

1. Assess the risks for where your boat is stored during a hurricane.

If the odds are against you, look for another place. Ideally, you'd like to understand the overall risk of wind and surge in the future at the exact spot where you keep your boat during storms. But that's not information you can look up on the Internet. To get some idea of your risks, you'll have to rely on historical data.

The table below shows how frequently different areas have had to deal with intense hurricane winds in the past. Between 1900 and 2012, the Northeast has only experienced one hurricane with high winds every 22 years on average with none stronger than Category 3. The Gulf Coast and Florida, on the other hand, have been hit with a Category 3 or higher hurricane every three to five years over the past 112 years.

Table of How Often Regions Experienced Intense Storms Between 1900 and 2002
Click on table to enlarge

So, if you keep your boat in the Gulf Coast or Florida, you need to make sure the place where you secure your boat during a storm can withstand 100-knot and higher winds. If your boat is in a marina, find out if they've ever had winds that strong in the past, and how much wind the marina is designed to survive.

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