Florida’s boating industry has begun its recovery process after Hurricane Irma slammed through much of the state last week. According to a story in the Wall Street Journal, the greatest damage to boats, marinas and docks will most likely be the Florida Keys, Marco Island and Jacksonville. The paper said that boats in the rest of the state fared better than expected, according to industry representatives.
“We basically dodged a bullet here,” James Brewer, director of business development at Derecktor Shipyards in Dania, Florida, told the paper. Brewer said the shipyard had received about 40 calls from boaters needing repairs.
A number of marine businesses, including Marine Concepts in Ft Myers, MarineMax, with multiple boat dealerships around the state, and Suntex Marinas sent out notices that they had no sustained significant damages for their businesses.
Florida has the largest number of boats in the US, with 889,350 registered in 2015, according to the NMMA. The marine industry generated US$15.3bn for the state in 2015.
Scott Croft, spokesman for the BoatUS, said that claims for boat damage are just beginning to trickle in. Croft said that Irma’s move to the Gulf of Mexico side of Florida spared the boating community significant damage. Croft said that the record for boat loss was US$650m caused by Hurricane Sandy in 2012. That hurricane damaged about 65,000 boats. In October 2016, Hurricane Matthew caused about US$110m in damage.
State Farm, an insurance agency without about 15,000 boat policies had received less than 20 Florida boat claims as of Wednesday, compared to 14,860 auto and fire claims, according to the paper.
Tom Hansen, president of The Boat House, which has three Florida boat dealerships, expects Irma to eventually boost demand for new boats. He said that after Hurricane Charley destroyed one of his stores in 2004, “we had one of the best years of business we’ve ever had.”
In Texas, industry officials say that Hurricane Harvey had a devastating impact on marinas and boat dealerships in the Houston area. Ryan Miller, president of the Marina Association of Texas, told the paper that Harvey was the “worst storm in recent history,” for boats and marinas along the Texas coast. “We’ve heard from a number of our marina members that they are dealing with sunken boats and considerable losses,” he told the paper. “It’s pretty devastating.”
The Tampa Bay area, which was expected to get the worst tidal surges and wind damages since the last hurricane hit in 1921, was largely spared infrastructure damage. The NMMA announced yesterday that the IBEX trade show would proceed as planned next week. “We are thankful Hurricane Irma left little damage on Tampa, making it accessible for exhibitors,” said Anne Dunbar, IBEX show director.