Local boat owners like Tom Clark aren’t rolling the dice on Hurricane Sandy.The Rehoboth resident’s 52-foot powerboat was one of dozens pulled from the water at Brewer Cove Haven Marina on Friday. Mr. Clark said he didn’t want to take any chances on Hurricane Sandy, which is slated to spend the weekend rumbling toward the mid-Atlantic seaboard.
Ms. Clark also said he normally leaves his boat in through the end of November and while his family won’t be able to take a traditional Thanksgiving Day cruise, the revised schedule does have one advantage.
“I’ve actually got some projects to start around the house,” he said.
“I’ll get going on them a little bit earlier.”
Cove Haven General Manager J. Michael Keyworth has seen a number of storms in his 25 years at the marina. It’s a tenure that has provided him and his staff with plenty of experience hauling boats on a tight timeline. Mr. Keyworth has previously delivered seminars on hurricane preparedness before the American Boat Builders and Repairers Association and said the marina’s average staff member has been around for more than 14 years.
Mr. Keyworth said that although Thursday was a relatively quiet day at the marina, Friday was a different story. He estimated about 50 boats were hauled out of that water that day alone, about five times the typical load for this time of year. Mr. Keyworth said the marina plans to operate with extended hours Saturday and Sunday to keep up with hauling requests despite typically being closed on the weekend.
“If you had been here last week you would say it’s pretty empty,” Mr. Keyworth said.
“But it’s filling up fast.”
The workload this weekend is expected to be heavy not only because of Sandy but because the marina is also trying to accommodate several previous agreements with boat owners who are storing their vessels at the site this winter. That means some of the boats pulled this weekend will actually have to be put back in the water and re-hauled at a later date so crews can properly winterize each vessel.
Mr. Keyworth said a lot of people ask him whether he thinks it’s a good idea to pull their boat. His answer? A motion to his 44-foot boat sitting on stands near the marina’s entrance.
Mr. Keyworth said the marina subscribes to a private weather service that is predicting Sandy will bring about sustained winds of more than 50 knots for 48 hours. Not only does that put a lot of pressure on dock lines, it’s the reason numerous masts were piled at the marina, off their boats.
Despite the long weekend hours, however, Mr. Keyworth said his crew has a good-time. Former assistant manager Dave Smith even came back to help out. He retired in January after 39 years at the marina but spent the day Friday operating a 150-ton crane.
“There’s a great spirit and a sense of camradarie and team play,” Mr. Keyworth said.
“We’re all pulling for the same thing to happen.”
Meanwhile, on Barton Avenue, Stanley’s Boat Yard also found itself in the midst of a busy pre-storm schedule. Ted Terhune is an office manager at Stanley’s and he said the phone started ringing at 8 a.m. Thursday. By that night, Stanley’s had hauled about 20 boats out of the water. By the end of the day Friday, another 30 were expected to be pulled with as many as 10 more slated for Saturday.
That’s a far cry from the half dozen boats normally pulled in a single day this time of year.
Mr. Terhune said the fall tends to be a busy hauling season anyway though the threat of rough seas next week has crammed a few weeks worth of work into one long weekend.
Overall, Mr. Terhune said boat removal was running as smooth as possible. He said boat owners have expressed a mix of excitement and apprehension though the pending storm does come with one significant difference from last year’s brush with Tropical Storm Irene – It’s timing.
While Irene hit in late August, Sandy’s timing at the end of October means there are a lot less boats in the water and accordingly, a lot less owners worried about the weather.
Local residents don’t appear to be taking the storm too lightly either. DPW Superintendent Joe Piccerelli said six palettes of sand bags were put out free to residents, almost all of which were gone by late Friday afternoon. Mr. Piccerelli said more bags might be available Monday, depending on the storm’s forecast.
Mr. Piccerelli also said DPW crews were busy Thursday and Friday getting the town ready for possible effects from Sandy. Chainsaws have new blades, Mr. Piccerelli said, trucks are fueled up, catch basins have been cleaned out and drainage lines have been cleared.
Mr. Piccerelli said a conference call was scheduled with National Grid officials for late Friday afternoon and Friday morning, Town Manager Peter DeAngelis held a meeting with all local department heads and school officials to prepare.
One popular spot in town for preparations is ACE Hardware, on County Road. There, owner George Tamer said generators went quickly though a new shipment is due in Monday. Mr. Tamer said other popular items have included tropical storm staples such as batteries, flash lights, candles, storage containers, tarps and tape.
Mr. Tamer also said the storm has been a popular topic of conversation.
“It is the subject of the day,” he said.
Mr. Tamer said customers stopping in had a mix of emotions though generally there seemed to be less anxiety than prior storms.
And while the storm isn’t scheduled for any type of impact until early next week, Mr. Tamer said he is already thinking of the aftermath including customers looking for pumps and mops.
Here are a few links to help with storm preparation:
Hurricane preparation guidelines from the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency:
Hurricane/storm preparation kit: http://www.riema.ri.gov/preparedness/preparenow/index.php
Interactive tracking map from The Weather Channel: