Over 63K boats affected by hurricanes in Fla, Texas

Hurricanes Harvey and Irma together damaged or destroyed more than 63,000 recreational boats in Texas and Florida at a total cost upward of $655 million, BoatUS estimated after a survey of insurance claims — its own and those of other insurers.

“It could have been much worse,” said Rick Wilson, vice president in charge of claims for the BoatUS insurance program.

“Oh yeah?” you might reply if your own boat was totaled and uninsured and you feel like you’ll never get over it.

“Oh yeah?” You might wonder if you lived in a Keys trailer park and lost everything you had including your job down there.

“Oh yeah?” you might ask if you’re the Miami bayfront home owner with four big sailboats ripped from a mooring field and flung over your bulkhead onto your back yard and the only owner you can find tells you he’s uninsured. He can’t pay to have it removed.

“Here, it’s yours,” that one says, handing you the title and walking away. This happened. The Miami Herald reported the story after Irma. Don’t bet there aren’t more like it.

Not that Rick Wilson was talking about you in particular when he said it could have been much worse. He was talking about all of Florida, where Irma likely would have been worse if it had not spent so much of its energy trashing the Keys or if it had turned from westbound to northbound an hour or two sooner than it did.

“Irma ultimately traveled up Florida’s west coast and not the east, which was initially forecast,” he explained. “And while locations in the right front quadrant of the storm such as Big Pine Key and Marathon were hit hard with a Category 4 storm, Irma lost strength as it approached the mainland... As the storm passed east of Tampa Bay, waters receded and came back gradually, also lessening surge damage.”

Here’s how the two-hurricane insurance estimate breaks down: Irma got about 50,000 Florida boats for about $500 million in costs. Harvey’s score was about 13,500 boats and $155 million in costs.

How much worse could those figures be? Consider 2012’s hurricane Sandy, which damaged or destroyed about 2,000 more boats than Irma and Harvey combined. Sandy’s boat insurance cost was estimated at about $5 million less than the Harvey-Irma total.

BoatUS also released a video montage of Irma damage on the southeast coast and in the Keys. If you can handle the sight, of vessels ranging from dinks to yachts sunk at their docks, flung ashore, and webbed in among mangroves, here’s where to look: www.youtube.com/watch?v=5IIL-hCobEs.