Top 10 claims from Christian & Company Marine Surveyors

Here I sit at the San Diego boat show, trying to come up with an idea for an article, when low and behold I see the September 2018 BoatU.S. Magazine and their top 10 claims article. I decided to use their list and my experience handling claims and add Southern California comments for your entertainment and perhaps enlightenment.
#10 Wake damage, this includes boats at the docks, boats rafting up and passengers thrown around underway. In Southern California many marinas are in no wake zones, but most of San Diego bay has no speed limit. Proper dock lines and extra fenders are important but knowing what to expect and preparing for it is the way to prevent this damage. There are a couple restaurants and attractions directly on the bay and they get big wakes, many have tried to fend properly, many have failed, consider the risk vs. the reward. Warn passengers about wakes and take them at an angle and speed to reduce their effect on your boat and crew.
#9 Boat theft, primarily is a trailer boat issue and while not as prevalent in So. Cal, it’s worth considering where you hide your key, could you find it if you didn’t already know where it was? How long would it take?  Try to make your boat harder to steal than your neighbor’s boat, on a trailer or in a slip.
#8 Fire and explosion, like theft ranks high because the amount of each claim is relatively high. We have had some bad years in San Diego with marina fires consuming multiple boats, but lately we have been lucky with only the occasional individual boat fire. Electricity is the ignition source for most of the fires we investigate and there is usually a distinct precursor smell. Explosions are usually preceded by the smell of gasoline or propane, be alert, monitor closely and get out quickly
#7 Grounding, we have polar opposite types of grounding. Much of our grounding is on soft mud, usually allowing us to simply back off or perhaps await a higher tide. On the other end we have a few rocks, usually comprising jetties; this type of grounding is much more significant and destructive. Make sure your grounding does not turn into #5; check your bilge after the incident.
#6 Theft of equipment is a new addition to their top ten list and includes outboards, stern drives, electronics and fishing gear. I always wonder how much meth you can get for a radar monitor or an old loran? Make your boat less attractive, lock it up, put a (fake) camera in a conspicuous place and choose a well protected storage location for your trailered boat (with several conspicuous cameras).
#5 Sinking, is slipping in rank, but has made it on all three of their top ten lists. The cause of loss is always the same, too much water on the inside! This claim is as normal for So Cal as anywhere. A good way to prevent this is to keep a dry bilge; it is much easier to detect a leak than to detect a bigger leak or another leak. While bilge pumps’ malfunctions do not sink a boat (see above) bilge pumps and high water alarms can prevent submersion’s. Trailer boats fill with water during rainy season too, make sure the plug is out and the bilge is clean.
#4 Weather/wind, is also normal for our area. We may not get snow and ice, but we get high winds, occasional storms and I remember few Tsunami claims. Weather is usually mild and storms here are usually moderate, but they are normally in the winter and are rarely surprises. Extra dock lines, an extra wrap around the roller furling sails, reduced windage and open scuppers are the ounce of prevention. Be aware which wind direction will cause your boat problems and respond or have a boat buddy make the extra precautions and do a post storm check.
#3 Collision/allision, a collision is between two vessels, an allision is between a vessel and a fixed object (which can be another vessel). With the exception of sailing races where both entrants contractually agree to alternate rules, every boat in a collision shares some responsibility. Know the rules, keep a proper look out and do whatever is necessary to avoid one. When warranted (boat parade or 4th of July) add a look out, reduce speed, choose courtesy and loose that assertiveness big fella.
#2 Hurricanes, well we may have high cost of living, state income tax, earthquakes and fires, but we don’t worry about this one here :<)
#1 Striking submerged object, while these claims rarely result in total losses, if it happens to you make sure you don’t get a #5 (again). Many submerged hazards are charted and are, as are almost all of these claims, avoidable. Do you know about the Hyperion Sewage pipe offshore Playa del Rey or where the submerged jetty is in the San Diego Bay entry channel? There is likely a similar, charted hazard near you and remember maintain a proper lookout.