ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Recreational boat owners from Louisiana to Florida's Atlantic Coast – and even as far north as some Great Lakes states – suffered $680 million in damage from Hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne, the Boat Owners Association of The United States said in a press release this morning.
Hurricane Frances was the costliest storm, doing some $300 million in damage to recreational boats, followed by Hurricane Ivan ($150 million), Hurricane Charley ($130 million) and Hurricane Jeanne ($100 million), according to BoatU.S.
The association said its figures do not include damage to commercial vessels, marinas or other infrastructure.
The total recreational boat damage from the four storms surpasses the $500 million mark attributed to 1992's Hurricane Andrew. Not surprisingly, BoatU.S. said that, on average, those vessels with hurricane plans in place prior to a storm's arrival fared much better than those whose owners waited until the last minute or neglected to take precautions.
Where the damage occurred
Hurricane Charley was the strongest hurricane to make landfall in the state of Florida since Andrew, according to the state’s Emergency Operations Center. It struck Florida's east coast near Port Charlotte on Aug. 13 with winds reaching 145 mph.
However, the swift moving Category 4 storm's narrow track struck few marinas, while vessels tied up at residences on the region's miles of canals took the brunt of the storm. Another factor limiting losses was that Florida's west coast also has more trailerable vessels that were easier to keep out of harms way, BoatU.S. said.
Hurricane Frances made landfall Sept. 5 near Stuart, Fla., as a Category 2 storm with winds over 100 mph. While it had weakened by the time it hit land, the storm's size – about twice as big as Charley – combined with a slower track and a greater concentration of larger vessels laying in its path, proved to be the most costly storm to hit boaters this season. Many marinas and dry stack facilities incurred great damage.
Hurricane Ivan struck Gulf Shores, Ala., 11 days later causing widespread damage in Mississippi, Alabama and the Florida Panhandle, with 130 mph winds. It is believed that Ivan brought the highest levels of storm surge - the leading factor in recreational boat losses - as compared to the season's three other hurricanes, BoatU.S. said.
The effects of the Category 3 storm were felt as far north as Pennsylvania and Ohio as rain swollen rivers ripped boat-laden docks from their anchorages and sent them careening downstream.
Hurricane Jeanne struck Florida's Treasure Coast Sept. 25 as a Category 3 storm, packing 115 mph winds. But because Jeanne struck the coast at nearly the same point as Hurricane Frances, further damage to recreational boats may have been mitigated, according to BoatU.S.
BoatU.S. said that by the time Jeanne came ashore - three weeks after Frances - many boats had already been moved out of harms way or had been previously salvaged, or that boaters had fully embraced precautionary measures such as doubling or tripling of dock lines and removing windage.
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