Hurricane Isaias: Boaters said they’ve seen a thing or two and aren’t necessarily worried about this storm. In fact captains and sailors say improperly secured boats may pose more danger than Isaias.
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Boaters in Palm Beach County on Saturday weren’t taking any chances in the face of Hurricane Isaias, even though some seemed to think it would blow past before they learned to pronounce it.
Isaias (pronounced ees-ah-EE-ahs, for those not in the know) moved through the Bahamas on Friday morning as a Category 1 with 80 mph winds. But by Saturday morning, a weakening eye wall and a slightly more easterly track had some boaters in South Florida breathing a sigh of relief.
"If this was a Cat 2, I’d be worried, but I’m pretty prepared," said Kim Crawford, pausing before adding "like the wine" with an easy grin.
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Crawford lives on "Katharsis," a 51-foot sailboat docked in the Riviera Beach City Marina. She spent the morning like many other boaters up and down the coastline — adding mooring lines, removing potential projectiles and loading up on bumpers.
Despite the sweaty work, there was an easy feeling in the thick, heavy air — far different from 2019 when Hurricane Dorian threatened Florida’s coastline as a Category 5 storm.
Thankfully, Dorian stayed offshore, Crawford said. And she has a good feeling about Isaias as well.
Still, she’s concerned about potential damage from a nearby boat. Well, not so much a boat as a floating dock, strapped together with a dinghy, several small boats, a truck shell, and what appears to be a sort of shed, she said.
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"Somebody calls it ‘art’ and they live on it," Crawford said. "Many of us are worried it's going to break loose, and the winds are coming this way."
While numerous people live on boats at Crawford’s marina, few were around Saturday morning. The parking lot was empty and the docks were quiet, save for two neighbors rolling by with carts of essentials like paper towels, rum and vodka.
But there will be no hurricane party for Crawford.
"I’m going to really keep my wits about me," she said about the need to remain alert and sharp Saturday night in case anything were to happen. "Tomorrow maybe I’ll feel relaxed."
A half hour north of Riviera Beach, the vibe at Jupiter Yacht Club & Marina was more than relaxed. It was desolate.
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"I’ve been here 20 years and have been through about a dozen storms, and nothing has ever happened," said Jimmy Hall, captain of a 60-foot Rybovich named "Tripletale."
The marina is tucked away in something called a ‘hurricane hole," which protects it from the worst of the wind and waves. Boaters know that, Hall said, so they don’t all rush over to prepare for storms the size of Isaias.
Hall is worried, he said, but not so much about the hurricane.
"I worry about all of the boats," he said. "Just because they are tied up, doesn’t mean it’s done properly. They use lines that are too small, it's mistied, and some have nothing at all."
Hall spent the afternoon stowing away anything that could become airborne in a storm and securing Tripletale with lots of extra lines.
Chris Susko, captain of a nearby boat called "Smoking Reels" in the same marina, said he was frustrated more people were not doing the same thing.
Wearing a T-shirt with the names and pictures of the common boating knots, he expertly tied one after another around the thick pilings, dripping in the stagnant heat. He said he wasn’t going to take any chances with Isaias, regardless of what forecasters said.
"I’m worried they don’t know what it’s doing," he said of the storm, which, even if it moves farther east may have the greatest impact on the coastal communities. "It’s changed so much, we won’t know until it’s here."
Only hours before, he said, a friend in the Bahamas sent him a message that Isaias was packing some "pretty substantial" winds. And that’s enough to make him err on the side of caution.
"I’m going to check on the boat every hour during the storm until it is no longer safe to do so," he said.