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Debbie says the 8thP with Insurance is Patience

by John Curnow on 19 Apr 2017
Timber! SW
This all stems from the learnings in the widely read, Debbie says there are 7 Ps and 1 C with insurance’. As time unfolds some more, we learn that indeed there are a lot of reasons you need to apply patience with both your dealings with your insurance company, and also all the many trades that are working feverishly to get all the jobs done.

In this way it is like the time Pantaenius collected up all the boats in the Caribbean after Hurricane Ivan and shipped them back to Europe. It was prudent (yes it too is spelled with a P), for there were more resources available than the over-strapped local facilities, and overall it provided for a shorter timeframe.

Recently we spoke at length with Jamie MacPhail from Pantaenius Sail and Motor Yacht Insurance, who were the very first insurance organisation on the ground in the very heavily affected areas of Airlie Beach and Hamilton Island. However, it wasn’t exactly easy for them to achieve, and far more akin to John Candy, polka band and all, in ‘Planes, Trains and Automobiles’, as MacPhail explains.

“Prior to the cyclone we had already lined up our two key relationships: David Morris who operates out of Hawkes Boatyard at Abell Point Marina, and also Michael Lieberman from IMS Loss Adjusters, who is one of our principal surveyor/loss adjusters. Both of them were ready, so the day after the storm had gone through we were set to go.”



“Problem was that despite telling us we could get into Hamilton Island, and potentially Mackay, the airline kept cancelling our seats the moment we tried to board. Two days passed with this game of musical chairs, and we had bought five tickets in the meantime, before they sold us seats to Hamilton Isl via Cairns.

“Alas, on arrival into Cairns they promptly informed us that the service would not be running at all, and further that no one was allowed to travel to Hamilton Island anyway!. So we found ourselves in Cairns, a long way from Sydney, but more importantly some 570 km away from Airlie Beach or Hamilton Island. So it was 7pm and we smartly hired a 4WD, believing we’d probably have to drive through some flood barriers. Turned out to be quite a good decision later on.”

“We did make Townsville that night at around 11pm, booked a hotel, and then jumped back into the car again on Friday morning at 7 a.m, (after a quick shop for boxes of water and essential supplies at Wollies at Townsville), to complete the remaining 200+km South to Airlie Beach, via Ayre and Bowen. We knew at that stage that there were still roadblocks to get past but we decided that we were going to try and talk our way through, on the basis that we were effectively emergency personnel.”

“Turns out luck was with us, for as we got to the roadblocks they were opening at the same time, and in one of them we were in the first group of cars to get through, so a two and a half, three hour drive took us five hours, but at the end of the day we got into Airlie Beach at about 11, 11:30 on the Friday.”

No laughing matter

“We got straight to work at the Port of Airlie Marina. We had a list of all our clients there and inspected all the boats. There was one that we missed however, which we came back and to on Saturday afternoon. We kept going until about 9.30pm, identifying craft, making notes, and taking pictures. There were a small number of clients there on site, but most of the owners of the bigger boats live somewhere else, so we did reports, took photographs of the damage that we saw on our clients’ boats and we created a dossier, of course, for each and every boat, and each and every client.”



“On the Saturday we elected to go to Hamilton Island and got the first ferry at 6.45am. Whilst we had 18-20 boats there, we only had four or five boats with any damage that’s beyond the excess amount, which was good for all. The damage on the other boats was very minor, very superficial and underneath the excess. So we looked at and photographed them, then focused on the boats that were in a more grave state.”

“Two in particular had a significant amount of damage. There is a big Princess 82, a three year old motor yacht, that will require a good deal of repair and rectification work, some of which could fall back on the manufacturer.

“The other boat that we had in a precarious position was a Buizen 48 called, Free Spirit, that is owned by one of our long-term clients. He and his brother have actually got sister ships, and they are an experienced boating family from Melbourne. Pictures of it were all over social media, which was not ideal for the owner who was on a train somewhere in Russia, at the time, but his Brother was in constant communication with us. This boat was high and dry on the beach, up in the corner of the harbour, and hemmed in by a large Marlow Motor Yacht, and a Sunseeker.”

“We really didn’t know how much damage it had, but when we inspected it we were thrilled to find no water in the boat. Sure there was stuff strewn all over the boat, because she had been shaken and rocked everywhere. So we cleaned the boat up a bit, then cut and pulled down the staysail that had been left up, and subsequently unfurled. Naturally, it went straight to the bin!”

“However, the larger headsail had miraculously not unfurled, and it remains undamaged on the rig. We checked all the bilges, and there was no water. There was power still running though, on the Saturday no less, and the cyclone went through on Tuesday at midday! One of the fridges was still running, and we managed to turn all the power off. Luckily there was no food in the fridge, just drinks. We opened all the hatches then just to let some air in the boat while we inspected the outside. There some damage to the stainless work, and she was lying on her starboard side in the dirt and gravel, with a bit of coral there too. It was pretty badly scratched up, and certainly not going to just buff out!”



'We didn’t really know whether there was damage to the rudder, but we didn’t think the keel had suffered. Of course, we couldn’t really see anything on the starboard side basically underneath the waterline, and had hoped there were no holes in the boat, but you just couldn’t see. I mean it could’ve been sitting on a rock for all we knew, yet we figured there were no holes, as were no signs that water had ingress.”

Interestingly, even though the boat had lots of hatches and windows and things, no water had made it in, which just goes to show you how well built those Buizens were. MacPhail also concurred, saying, “There were a lot of boats that we inspected over that four/five day period that had inches of water in the boat, which just got in through hatches, covers and what have you. The Buizen was pretty watertight even in 140 knots, which says something about the construction of that boat. Eddy Buizen who built them is now deceased, unfortunately and sadly, but he built a great boat and it’s testament to the way they were made.”

Dig a big hole, and then make it even bigger

“We got that boat off the beach by having a tractor come in and dig a huge hole behind it. Club Marine insured the Marlow and we worked together on this one, sliding the Buizen into the hole at high tide and floating her off. She is currently being checked out, yet our original assessment seems to be pretty accurate. Obviously it needs some new antifoul on the starboard side, the stainless work and the davits at the back are badly damaged, but otherwise the toe rail, the bulwark, everything else is actually in pretty good nick, and other than paint on the starboard side it really doesn’t need anything else.”



Note here that unfortunately the owner is going to have to buy a new staysail because it was up in the air at the time of the storm and not stowed properly. Other than that it’s a pretty successful salvage, and that large Princess made her way immediately down to the Boat Works on the Gold Coast to affect her repairs.

“In regards to the latter, MacPhail explained, “On the day we organised a delivery crew and fuel pickups at Mackay, so the boat left as soon as the delivery crew could get flights into Hamilton Island. Other than that, our clients faired reasonably well, and so by 2pm we jumped back on the ferry to Airlie Beach and went straight to Abell Point Marina to start walking the dock, well sort of... With the assistance of Luke McCaul and Paul Darrouzet, the owner of Abel Point, we identified all the people we had insured.”



“More importantly they informed us where they were exactly, which was the crucial piece of the puzzle, as some of the walkways and the ramps down to them had broken away or twisted severely. As a result, we had to get access to many by water, by ducky to some of them. So it was not plain sailing, so to speak.”

“We believed we had 76 boats insured at Abell Point. We sighted every one, and we’ve created reports on all of them. Of all those boats we believe somewhere around 38 or 40 boats in that Marina probably have an insurance claim with us. Like elsewhere, for a large number of those the owners were not there, and don’t live in Airlie Beach. They live in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, and so on. We’ve since reported to those people, often to their surprise, and provided them with images and a statement saying, ‘Hey we’ve been on the boat, we’ve checked it, it’s safe, or there’s some damage, or you’ve got no covers, or some scratches, fenders ropes fell, blah blah blah. So we’ve provided damage reports to all those people.”



“Just like Hamilton Island we had one other boat up on the beach inside Abel Point Marina Compound over at Shingley Beach. There was a Clipper 34, and then the boat we had, which was a large Formosan Ketch, a big Taiwanese craft, very heavily constructed in solid fibreglass. It is a boat that obviously the owners love, for they spent plenty of money inside it and put some reasonably expensive booms and rigging solutions on her too. But again and unfortunately, like a lot of boats, they’d left the headsails up and both headsails had come out, and we were led to believe by the Marina Manager and other people there that had the headsails not been up, the boat would never have left the dock!”

“We met a couple on the beach on Saturday afternoon when assessing the damage who live in the waterfront apartments and they said that they saw the Formosa heading straight for their apartment at the height of the storm, and were thankful that it passed by ending up on the beach right next door.”

OK. We have more about the eighth P of insurance, but that will have to wait for Part Two, so make sure you stay tuned for that. It will be with you soon enough!

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