The florida keys took a big hit this year. Ryan Jacobson, vice president of Yacht Works — a boatyard, marina and boat-sales company with locations in Tavernier and Key Largo — is watching the region’s recovery.
KK: Did you have any damage? RJ: We didn't have anything damaged, but we've come across a lot of damaged boats. What we're seeing is that [for] most of the boats that have been damaged, the owners are currently dealing with the insurance companies. Generally, if it's a little bit of damage it's OK. But if it's a 1986 hull with a down engine, most people aren't going to spend the money to rebuild the boat.
KK: What are boat owners doing in the meantime? RJ: Everybody is hauling their boats out, mainly to the Homestead area.
KK: What kinds of issues are you seeing? RJ: The main damage is around the Big Pine [Key] area. The boats on trailers, averaging about 25 feet, maybe a hundred of them got washed around like a washing machine on their trailers. So pretty much everything down there is totaled. Once the motors go underwater, if it's a brand-new Yamaha four-stroke, if it goes underwater and sits there for two weeks, you kind of have to assume it's not going to run again. The electrical stuff is a major concern too. A lot of that stuff will need to be replaced.
KK: Are you seeing a lot of hull damage? RJ: We're seeing boats that came off trailers and landed on roads and docks, and you see fiberglass damage of course. A lot of the boats that were moored are total losses. There just wasn't enough protection in some areas unfortunately, and boats became untethered. Will these damaged boats hit the water again? Yes, but they won't be the same. A lot of them will go to auction.
KK: How will the damage affect the auction side of your business? RJ: All the damaged boats will go to auction, and that's a good opportunity for a do-it-yourselfer. If you want to spend some time with your hands on a boat, now's a good time for you. Some of the boats you shouldn't touch. You have to be smart. Rebuilding a sunken boat always costs more than you think.
KK: What else should snowbird cruisers know? RJ: There's less places to put boats. So that's something we will have to work on in the future. A lot of the docks got destroyed, particularly on the ocean side. That's not something a lot of people have realized yet. Things that used to be there just aren't anymore.