How to Recover a Boat After a Catastrophic Hurricane

How to Recover a Boat After a Catastrophic Hurricane

It is imperative to understand how to recover a boat after a catastrophic hurricane strikes and causes unmistakable damage. Hurricane Ian was one of the most devastating natural disasters in recent history, causing millions in damages to coastal properties in Florida, Georgia, and South and North Carolina. Ship repairers in these states have dealt with repair requests from clients since then, and recovery efforts are still ongoing in many communities.

The question that is foremost on the minds of many boat owners is: “Is it possible to recover a boat after a catastrophic hurricane?” Just as importantly, is it even worth the effort?

The good news is that many boats are recoverable, even after extensive damage. With the help of capable ship repairers, even severely damaged vessels can be seaworthy again.

Even if full recovery isn’t possible, the opportunity to salvage valuable components and equipment makes an effort worth it. And there is also something to be said about preventing further damage, which helps reduce the cost of repairs and gets the boat back to normal sooner.

How to Recover a Boat After a Catastrophic Hurricane

If your client wants to recover their boat after a hurricane, there are a few steps to take. 

Ask Permission to Board the Ship

Your client should never enter a damaged boat without permission. Even if they own the ship, they could place the marina or harbor owner in a position of liability, which could entail a costly lawsuit.

Instead, they should get permission from the relevant authorities and cooperate with official recovery efforts. They should also be prepared to present proof of ownership of the vessel when requested.

Safety First

The first priority in any recovery undertaking is the safety of everyone involved. It should take precedence over recovering even valuable items.

Your clients should remember that damaged boats contain numerous hazards, including leaking fuel and downed electrical wires. There is also a risk of falls and lacerations, so they must take every precaution. 

Secure Valuable Items

Sometimes, boats may wash ashore by the action of the wind, waves, or tide. If this happens, your client should remove as many salvageable items and equipment as possible and secure them safely. Also, it will help ensure that they have protection against looters and vandals.

It is also a good idea for your client to post their contact details on a prominent area on the ship’s exterior. It helps establish ownership and hopefully discourages thieves and trespassers.

Prevent Further Damage

One of the main goals of recovery is to prevent further damage to the vessel. Whether restricting exposure to the elements or drying electrical components, your clients should do everything to prevent even more damage.

It is imperative to “pickle” wet machinery, which involves flushing them out with fresh water and replenishing the fuel.

Contact your Insurance Provider

There are many cases when a damaged boat is wholly or partially submerged. Regardless of how much of it is underwater, it will probably have to be removed by a salvage company.

Most experienced boaters and marina owners advise owners not to sign a salvage or wreckage-removal contract without getting approval from an insurance representative. It ensures that your client has full coverage against liability and that nothing hinders their claim for damages.


Recovering a boat is often a formidable challenge, especially after a hurricane. However, your client may decide that spending time, effort, and resources on the recovery project isn’t worth it.

Of course, there are instances when recovery is possible, in which case your client should attempt it if they have the time and money to spare. In any case, they should prioritize the safety of everyone involved above all else. Following the tips outlined above will hopefully have their boat back in working order or at least salvage enough of it for a new vessel.

About Merrimac Marine Insurance

At Merrimac Marine, we are dedicated to providing insurance for the marine industry to protect your clients’ business and assets. For more information about our products and programs, contact our specialists today at (800) 681-1998.