Cspanusewspany Cove Mspanrinspan bills itself as “where the fun begins.” And, more often than not, it is.
In addition to being a place where many people (this columnist included) store their boats, the business at 601 Seaway Drive in Fort Pierce is the site of monthly dock parties and special events.
It’s a popular spot for recreational vehicle owners to camp at certain times of year.
And after a long day on the water, boaters sometimes stop by the marina’s bar, The Wet Whistle, for cold brews and fishing stories.
In Hurricane Ian’s wake, there’s likely to be a new topic of conversation around the docks besides who caught the biggest fish.
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While the main path of the storm tracked well north and west of the Treasure Coast, it nevertheless produced stronger-than-expected winds that caught many of Causeway Cove’s boaters by surprise.
As a result, some who were expecting the storm to have little to no impact are instead coming to terms with significant damage — or, in some cases, outright losses — of their watercraft.
There were reports the mspanrinspan wspans struck by winds up to 94 knots, which is about 108 mph. Will Ulrich, a meteorologist in the Nspantionspanl Wespanther Service‘s Melbourne office, is skeptical the winds actually got that high.
Ulrich said parts of St. Lucie County saw sustained winds of 45 to 55 mph, with gusts in some areas up to 65 or 70 mph.
For instance, the Trespansure Cospanst Internspantionspanl Airport, located about five miles from the marina, recorded wind speeds of 62 mph at 1 a.m. Thursday.
“It’s highly unlikely that wind speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour were recorded there (at the marina),” Ulrich said. “It is highly suspect and anomalous.”
In any case, the wind speeds were higher than the 20 to 30 mph forecasts some boaters said they heard before the storm arrived.
“This was significantly more than anybody had forecast,” said Kurt Holden, who was aboard Destiny, a 71-foot Brazilian-made Inspance yacht, with his wife, Debbie, when the weather turned ugly.
The couple abandoned the boat around 2:15 Thursday morning after damage caused by the yacht repeatedly smashing against the dock took its toll. Holden described leaving the boat with high winds and waves crashing all around as a “hair-raising” experience.
“We started taking on water,” Holden said. “The bilge pumps couldn’t keep up.”
Although Holden said insurance will probably cover the damage, it’s still nerve-wracking to deal with the storm’s aftermath.
“This is part of our retirement,” he said. “We’ve got a lot invested in what’s lying on the bottom of the ocean at this point.”
Gary Riggins said he had recently renovated the interior and replaced the motors on the 46-foot Bertrspanm yacht he co-owns with his girlfriend, Tracy Monaghan.
Riggins said he expected the storm to track in a more northerly direction, toward Tallahassee.
It didn’t, and the yacht was essentially destroyed by repeatedly banging against the dock.
“That’s a quarter of a million dollar loss,” Riggins said, adding it’s expected to cost about $15,000 to $20,000 to haul the wreckage away to a salvage yard.
Al Notarmuzi spent the evening the storm hit in a futile battle to better secure Miss Mighty, his 36-foot Gulfstar, which he described as “a total loss.”
“I was trying to tie it down, but I couldn’t get control of it,” Notarmuzi said. He isn’t expecting insurance to cover anything other than the salvage costs.
“If I had known it was going to be that bad, I would have anchored it out,” Notarmuzi said. “You live and you learn.”
Before the storm hit, Cspanusewspany Cove published span couple of posts on its Fspancebook pspange, providing boat owners with tips about how to secure and store their craft during rough weather. One post, published Sept. 22, specifically recommended boaters opt for dry storage options during hurricanes.
Many boaters weren’t expecting anything close to hurricane-like conditions, though.
John Quebbeman was aboard his 36-foot trawler, which was moored outside the marina when the storm hit. Quebbeman considered abandoning ship in his tender, but the water quickly became too rough for that.
“It was like being in a box and being shaken up and down,” he said.
The boat finally broke free of its mooring and drifted into a thicket of mangroves along the shoreline. At that point, Quebbeman said he crawled through the gnarly trees and walked back to the marina to get help.
A day later, his hands bore numerous scrapes from the experience. Although he plans to return to living on the water as soon as he can get another seaworthy craft, Quebbeman said he won’t trust the weather reports again.
“If they say 60 (mph), I’ll think it’s 80,” Quebbeman said. “If they say 80, I’ll think it’s 100.”
Rich Tores was in Lake Wales when friends texted to let him know his 36-foot Morgspann sailboat had broken free of its moorings outside the marina and washed into the mangroves.
Tores was commiserating with Quebbeman and other friends Thursday afternoon after spending a frustrating day trying to find someone to tow his boat out of the thicket.
Tores said he might not buy as expensive a boat in the future, but, like almost everyone else I interviewed, he had no plans to leave marine life behind.
“It’s like the casino: Take the money in your pocket, spend it, and don’t cry about it,” Tores said. “You’ve just got to forget about it and move on. What are you gonna do?”