Hurricanes Harvey and Irma damaged more than 63,000 recreational boats for a combined dollar damage estimate of $655 million, BoatUS said today.
The numbers are strikingly close to 2012’s Hurricane Sandy, which disputably was the single largest industry loss, with more than 65,000 damaged boats and more than $650 million in estimated losses.
Breaking down the 2017 season storms, Irma damaged or destroyed 50,000 vessels with about $500 million in recreational boat damage, BoatUS said.
About 13,500 boats were damaged or lost at a cost of $155 million as the result of Hurricane Harvey.
Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, combined, did nearly as much damage as Hurricane Sandy. This footage was taken at Driftwood Marina and Storage in Marathon, Fla., Sept. 21, shortly after the Keys reopened to residents.
The estimates include only recreational boats and do not account for damaged docks, boat lifts, boatyards, marinas or other types of infrastructure, BoatUS public relations vice president Scott Croft told Trade Only Today.
“I caution people that it’s an estimate,” Croft said. “They are our best estimate, taking what we know is our size of the business and extrapolating that onto the larger industry.”
Still, Croft said it could have been much worse if the storm had continued on at the Category 4 or 5 strength that was predicted.
“If you just look at Irma, it’s significant, but it could’ve been a lot worse,” Croft said. “It could’ve gone up the east coast of Florida. It could’ve done more surge damage in Tampa Bay.”
Irma hit the Florida Keys as a Category 4 storm Sept. 10, but was quickly downgraded by the time it hit the Florida mainland as a Category 3, and then again to a Category 2 as it traveled through the state.
“This is not the worst storm — people were asking if this was the worst” for recreational boat damage, Croft said. “Sandy has that. Irma’s No. 2. But we believe 2004 was the worst year on record for boat damage,” when hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne ravaged Florida.
“I say that loosely because we don’t have the exact data,” Croft said. “We did some number crunching last night and tried to adjust for inflation.
Though Irma did far more damage to boats than Harvey, it was unclear how much damage was done to infrastructure in Texas and Florida.
“These two storms were as different as night and day,” said BoatUS marine insurance program claims vice president Rick Wilson in a statement. “The boats that were hit the hardest by Harvey were located on a relatively small slice of Texas coast, while we saw damage to recreational vessels from Irma in every corner of Florida.”
The BoatUS Catastrophe Team recently completed two months of field operations arranging for repairs, salvage or wreck removals for BoatUS Marine Insurance program members and Geico Marine Insurance customers.
Trade Only and sister publication Power & Motoryacht spent time in the Keys with Croft, the catastrophe team and boat owners shortly after the storm hit.
Check out Croft’s hourlong slideshow, which also includes video snippets, here.