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Old 03-15-2018, 02:41 AM   #1
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Wood Boat - Insurance and Pending dilemna

So - I have a 32' Wooden Grand Banks (1972). I love it. The hull is sound and its in good overall condition. There is nothing I dislike about it but I do dislike that it suffers what appears to me to be a prejudice* (justified or not) against wood boats. Wooden GB's are a fraction of the cost of their fiberglass descendants.

My dilemma is this. I suffered an engine loss which the insurance company, after its own examination has decided too cover.

The "problem" is all of my estimates for replacing the engine etc are coming in at over the insured value of the boat. I have not received final word yet but I think in the next day or so I'll be faced with having to make a decision about whether to take the entire settlement check and sign over the boat to the Insur Co or to take less than the full amount and keep the boat. If I keep the boat I would attempt to repower it myself on the cheap.

I am wondering though if its time to move on to a fiberglass model. Should I take the money and run and let my beautiful ship be sold off and parted out?

Having thought it over I realize the only reason I am tempted is because of the aforementioned overall prejudice against wood. The harbors, the boat labor force and other marine related businesses, even the insurance companies and certainly the boat resale market in southern California do not seem all that amenable to wooden hulls. I wonder what it will be like in another 5 years. Maybe wood will make a resurgence? Frankly I hate fiberglass but perhaps its time for me to throw in the towel.
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Old 03-15-2018, 06:06 AM   #2
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I don't have any answers for you but that is the worst, or at least one version of the worst, dilemma that a guy who loves his old wood boat could have. I do not envy you. The thought of wood making a resurgence in 5 years is sort of funny though...I have my doubts...
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Old 03-15-2018, 06:54 AM   #3
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Dont envy you.

Wherre I am, boat yards wont even pull or block wooden pleasure boats.

Not much of a market for them with all the problems from insurance to maintenance to hauling.
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Old 03-15-2018, 07:13 AM   #4
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You likely will never get a deal like described again for that hull, take the money and run. I am a wood boat guy.
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Old 03-15-2018, 10:30 AM   #5
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Not knowing the $$ involved it’s hard to make a suggestion. A floating boat will always have some value as there will always be some one looking for a liveaboard only boat. There is also the costs of changing boats beyond the purchase price.
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Old 03-15-2018, 11:12 AM   #6
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I love wood boats- and know that owning one means having the fiscal resources to maintain the vessel. That is the reason I would not own one.

I would take the total loss settlement and move on. As mentioned earlier, fewer and fewer yards want to deal with wood boats, and the insurance markets offering coverage are certainly dwindling. Those still insuring wood boats are demanding and getting significantly higher premiums for decreasing coverage.
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Old 03-15-2018, 11:41 AM   #7
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If it were me, I'd take the less amount and do the re-power. I assume you have a single screw 120 Lehman. Depending on the failure, I'd either do a frame in re-build (if possible) or find one in good running condition. They pop up here on Craigslist all the time. If the boat is sound and you have been maintaining it anyway, at least you know what you're dealing with. I don't think I'd want to maintain a woody much bigger than 32', although there are lots of folks around here that do. The fiberglass counterpart to your 32 aren't foolproof either. Just my .02
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Old 03-15-2018, 02:41 PM   #8
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Lots of wood boats here on the BC coast and lots of yards that specialize in them. The big marinas and yards prefer cookie-cutter boats as they can be handled like a standardized commodity and be stuck in pigeon-hole marinas. If you can't repower economically, bring it up here and she'll sell, although even here they are worth less than 'glass.

Tell us about the engine thing and we might have more info to offer? Many 32s get new power, pretty common. Worthwhile keeping her if you like it and remember that "boating is the best time you can buy."
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Old 03-15-2018, 02:44 PM   #9
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I would take the money and buy a fiberglass boat. In the future more and more yards and marinas will not take wooden boats, justified or not that is just the way it is. 5 years down the road you might not even be able to get insurance.
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Old 03-15-2018, 03:15 PM   #10
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What is wrong with engine? As you say, you love your boat. Have you firmly identified rebuild plan, schedule and costs? It could be a fun project, but the deeper you go the more issues you'll find. What kind of condition are the fuel tanks? Transmission etc?
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Old 03-15-2018, 03:54 PM   #11
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Wood boat

Quote:
Originally Posted by Comodave View Post
I would take the money and buy a fiberglass boat. In the future more and more yards and marinas will not take wooden boats, justified or not that is just the way it is. 5 years down the road you might not even be able to get insurance.
I agree.
As we're already starting to see insurance companies that won't insure vessels under 100K + in value. I suspect soon no matter if the boat is fiberglass OR wood, those of us with our cheaper 30+ year old boats won't be able to get or afford coverage. Just an opinion
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Old 03-15-2018, 04:09 PM   #12
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Can't rebuild the engine in situ?
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Old 03-15-2018, 04:12 PM   #13
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Hi Mplangley,

Please school me here, as I'm a tad confused. It has been my experience that few insurance policies specifically cover "engine failure"per se. They will, however, pay for the cost of discovery of what DID fail. And upon discovery of a non-covered entity (a non-latent defect within the engine, for instance), simply pay for the cost of that discovery, and perhaps mitigation of the results of that failure (towing, puking oil overboard, for instance).

Could you elaborate on the circumstances of your engine failure, and your insurance policy that covers such a failure? I know for sure that if my engine craps out for any reason (unless I can prove a latent defect), my insurance company will simply say "We looked into your bilge, your engine's broken, too bad, so sad, go away and fix it on your own dime".

ANY insurance money related to your engine failure seems like manna from heaven to me. And surely a "take the money and run" decision (or fix, sell, or scrap etc.) isn't one that lends itself to crowdsourcing.

Regards,

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Old 03-15-2018, 04:16 PM   #14
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I would take the money tip in a truckload of extra money and buy a fiberglass boat..
Corrected for you.
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Old 03-15-2018, 04:25 PM   #15
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Can't you "total" the boat with insurance co and buy back at pennies? Then rebuild or repower and keep it or sell it... or, even sell it as is for a bit more than your buy back.


One way or the other... I believe wooden material pleasure boats is a dying sport. Resurgence - I think not. More and more marinas here won't berth, haul or dry dock them. Competent workers on wood boats are getting few and far between too.


I thought I'd hate a frp boat... till we got out fiberglass Tollycraft - 10 yrs. ago! Great boat, super easy to deal with.
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Old 03-15-2018, 05:18 PM   #16
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I'm confused too as to why your insurer is paying for engine damage. I'm sure some event we're unaware of.

That said, I only see a couple of ways owning wood boats makes sense.

1. You're financially well off and restoring and maintaining old boats is your passion. You keep them looking beautiful and show them off every chance you get. You don't have hull insurance but can afford any loss.

2. It's an inexpensive way of getting into boating. You don't get hull coverage but get liability, including environmental. You enjoy the boat but realize it's resale value is fast approaching zero so fully expect to have to pay full price on any replacement boat, getting nothing for yours. Meanwhile, you have fun with your wooden boat. I'd be shocked if after a "total" claim you'd ever get hull coverage on that boat again. That doesn't mean though you couldn't enjoy it and take your chances. Just owning a wood boat you can't depend on insurance and you can't depend on resale.
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Old 03-15-2018, 05:54 PM   #17
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I'm confused too as to why your insurer is paying for engine damage. I'm sure some event we're unaware of.
BandB, in Sept, 2015 we had a runaway starter motor on our boat. (See the link below). By the time the bills were all rolled in on this incident the total for all the repairs was just a bit north of $35K. The insurance picked up all but my deductible because it was "an instantaneous breakdown not due to lack of maintenance". To verify the charges were "reasonable and necessary" the insurance company sent a surveyor from Portland, OR. Tand he owner of the yard doing the work on the repairs took him on a guided tour of the boat to show him what he was doing and why. Apparently the surveyor agreed because he gave the insurance company the green light.


I'm sure it doesn't happen often (where the insurance company picks up the tab) but it does happen.



A bit of a scare this weekend
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Old 03-15-2018, 05:56 PM   #18
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I only see a couple of ways owning wood boats makes sense.
It made sense to us because on our list of must haves was.....

1) Our cabin above decks and well ventilated
2) Space for a real king size bed
3) NOT needing a/c to be comfortable
4) No more than 1/2 gallon/ nm burn at hull speed
5) Full standing room er.
6) Roof space for almost 100% solar

I could not find that on a $2million dollar plastic or steel boat
But I could find it on a timber one for almost $2million dollars less.
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Old 03-15-2018, 06:57 PM   #19
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At an objective level I`d say "take the money and run". Be comforted it is more likely someone else will re-engine it than part it.
On insuring if you keep it and re-engine,if it`s only an engine failure, and it`s fixed, insurance may be possible.If you find an insurer willing to look beyond the "write off/total loss", otherwise it`s a real problem. You need liability cover at least.
At a subjective level you love the boat and you like wood. Rot potential vs osmosis potential. If it`s your "forever" boat, you should keep it.
Sit down with pen and paper,or a screen. Write down the pluses and minuses of your options. An answer you are comfortable with should emerge.
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Old 03-15-2018, 07:01 PM   #20
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BandB, in Sept, 2015 we had a runaway starter motor on our boat. (See the link below).
I recall that now. Perhaps he'll share what happened.
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