In September of 1998, Hurricane Georges roared through the Caribbean Sea and continued on a course that would take it through the Florida Keys and the Gulf of Mexico. When it became evident that Georges would score a direct hit on the Florida Keys, author David Harris prepared to evacuate. Wreck and Resurrection is his account of securing his belongings, including his 32-foot catamaran, Top Cat.
Georges arrived, hitting Key West on September 25, 1998. David began having second thoughts about whether Top Cat would survive in the poor holding grounds of the Keys. His premonitions were entirely accurate. Upon returning home, he found out what 110-mph winds and an 8-foot storm surge will do to low-lying areas such as the Keys. Trees and power lines were down, some homes were missing roofs, and the surge had done considerable damage. Top Cat was missing, no longer floating where he had seen her last.
The author found his wrecked boat upside down miles from where he had attempted to secure her. The mast was broken, the hulls had gaping holes in them, personal belongings were scattered about, and everything inside was soaked.
His troubles were just beginning. The book takes us through dealings with insurance agents, brokers, claims adjusters, foreign underwriters, salvage companies, boatyards, and parts distributors. Getting his insurance claim paid was a monumental task, one that took dozens of letters, email messages, phone calls, and faxes. Nearly seven months after filing his claim, David received his settlement.
Early in this process he searched for a boat to buy with the insurance proceeds but couldn’t find a suitable replacement. After discussing these matters with his family, it was determined that Top Cat was part of their family and should be repaired. Sticker shock soon set in as he shopped around, getting estimates to do the repairs. When he couldn’t be sure the insurance money would be enough to get the job done, he decided to tackle the enormous job of repairing Top Cat himself. Resourcefulness and determination went a long way in helping David achieve success in bringing Top Cat back to life, her resurrection.
I came away from reading this book wondering more than just a little, who the book’s target audience was. It is obvious that no two salvageable wrecks would be the same, so the details of repairs made to Top Cat would not necessarily be helpful to anyone courageous enough to attempt what David did. Any layperson attempting to do repairs of this magnitude might find some useful information while reading this book, but in my opinion, that information lies in understanding what one is up against and the many pitfalls one must avoid to achieve favorable results. This isn’t provided in the detailed text of the many repairs done to this particular boat.
Wreck and Resurrection, How I Made $60,000 Repairing My Sailboat by David Harris (Tortuga Books, 200, 191 pages)