Robert Nolin, reported on January 17, 2013 for SunSentinel.com that flotillas of boats savaged by Hurricane Sandy are finding their way from the Northeast to South Florida, as insurance companies shed damaged goods and purchasers chase a good deal.
“We’ve got a lot of people from your area that buy from us, tons of people from South Florida,” said Ron Milardo, founder and owner of Cooper Capital Specialty Salvage of Old Saybrook, Conn.
“That doesn’t surprise me at all,” said Gordon Connell, executive director of the Fort Lauderdale-based American Boat Builders and Repairers Association, a national industry group. “I’ve heard from several of our boatyards that have been involved in repairing large amounts of boats from the Northeast.”
Milardo’s firm is one of several that are selling the rehab-ready vessels on behalf of insurance companies that have declared them a “constructive total loss.” More than 200 boats are listed on Cooper Capital’s website, ranging in length from 10 to 70 feet, with most in the 20 to 40-foot category.
All were damaged in some degree — from busted hulls to minor motor malfunctions — by the fierce, wide-ranging storm that roared ashore near Atlantic City on Oct. 29. BoatUS, a marine insurer and recreational boating organization, estimates that 65,000 boats in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and other areas along the Atlantic Seaboard and Great Lakes region experienced some form of damage by the storm.
Milardo figures 13,000 of those boats will be declared total losses by insurers, making them available for sale or auction by insurance companies seeking to recoup some of their losses. Cooper Capital lists the boats, their photos, the damage, and a starting bid. The lion’s share of the profit goes to the insurers, with the sellers keeping a percentage.
Sales from the auctions are “as is,” and buyers are responsible for transporting their purchases after a 10-day grace period in storage. Prices are generally a bargain, but not giveaway cheap. “I think it’s fair for both buyer and seller,” Milardo said.
And a lot of those vessels are finding new life in South Florida, one of the country’s major boating centers. Milardo calculates about 30 percent of his trade come from South Florida buyers. “They visit our site and they bid regularly,” he said. “Given the amount of repair facilities in your area, I think that’s the reason that we see so much interest from South Florida.”
Connell said the boats are repaired for resale, personal use, or even export. One company, he said, is specializing in trailering boats to South Florida from the Northeast.
“South Florida is known for its skilled and quality marine industry workforce and workmanship,” he said. “That’s why a lot of boats are on their way down the East Coast to Florida.”
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