Stacked in piles by the dozen. Leaning against homes and on top of cars. Peeking out from murky waters and marshes up and down the New Jersey coast.
Hurricane Sandy had turned the Shore area into a graveyard of boats.
More than 1,400 marine vessels, from personal watercraft to 40-plus-foot yachts, littered the coastline in the wake of the storm, carried from their docks by a record-breaking storm surge and deposited wherever Sandy saw fit — often hundreds of yards away from where they began.
“It was just completely decimated,” said Smith, a towboat captain with TowBoatUS Sandy Hook who has removed dozens of displaced vessels at the Atlantic Highlands Municipal Harbor. “It wasn’t just minor damage either. I’d say 70 percent of the boats that we salvaged were total losses,” he told The Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J.
Sandy caused record-breaking damage to nearly every facet of life along the coast — and the maritime industry was no different. BoatUS, an insurer and the nation’s largest boat-owners association, estimates 25,000 boats were damaged in New Jersey at a cost of $242 million.
“In a lot of cases it’s not that people aren’t interested in salvaging their vessels, we’re just having trouble finding them. We’re writing letters and placing calls to addresses where there’s no longer a home,” said Lt. Perry Capiak, of the State Police Marine Services Bureau, which has been collecting data on displaced and missing boats and helping reconnect owners.