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Tall Ship Falls Over: Could Your Boat Do This?

When a tall ship stored on the hard at a boatyard blew over during last week’s brutal blizzard, the loud crash – unlike a tree in the woods – was heard by many. But now that the ship is lying on her side with a punctured hull and snapped mast, it will be an expensive recovery effort to return the boat to the water by next season. The incident may also have recreational boaters asking, “Could this happen to my boat?” The short answer, according to Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS), may depend on whether you ignore your boat over the winter lay-up period.

“Some boat owners put the boat away for the winter, and it becomes out of sight, out of mind,” said BoatUS Director of Damage Avoidance Beth Leonard “That’s a mistake. You need to make periodic boat checkups. If you can’t do it yourself, ask a marina staffer or friend to take a look to ensure any blocking or jackstands haven’t moved. If the boat is not on a hardened surface, the freeze-thaw cycle can cause blocking to shift. Always use chains to secure jackstands to the opposite jackstand.”

“Tarp lines that are tied off to a jackstand can pull the stand away from the boat – not a good thing. It’s better to run them under the hull tied off to the opposite tarp line. Loose tarps can also allow snow and ice to collect like a pond, adding tremendous weight that can tear stanchions out of the deck or worse,” added Leonard.

In the case of the toppled tall ship, the USS Providence, initial reports indicate the ship’s supports failed due to Winter Storm Juno’s high winds buffeting the 110-foot vessel. East Providence WPRO New Talk 630 reported a crowdsourcing campaign has begun to raise the $900,000 required for updates to the ship not covered by insurance and to support crew who take care of the vessel.

For more tips on winter boat storage, see the BoatUS Marine Insurance Program Seaworthy Magazine story, “Boat Winter Checklist” at
The 110-foot USS Providence toppled over in last week’s blizzard.
(Photo credit: Rocky Steeves)


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