UPDATED Thursday, 11:15 a.m.
By Dorie Cox
South Florida escaped the worst of Hurricane Irma’s punishing winds over the weekend as the eye of the immense Category 4 storm tore over the Florida Keys and skirted up the state’s west coast, quickly diminishing in strength to a tropical storm.
Being in the strongest quadrant of the storm, however, South Florida marinas and shipyards did face hurricane-strength winds coming in from the east. The feared winds of up to 200 mph didn’t materialize and neither did the 15-foot storm surge that was expected. All of the yards and marinas we talked to today reported similar minimal damage.
Still, the storm surge at the mouth of the Miami River took out the docks and power at Epic Marina. The marina had been evacuated for the storm so there was no damage to boats. Winds covered A1A on Fort Lauderdale beach with about 6 inches of sand.
The industry liaison for the South Florida marine industry was inundated with calls from mariners looking for a status report.
“Yes, I’m pretty popular right now,” Patience Cohn, of the Marine Industries Association of South Florida, said by cell phone this afternoon.
All bridges on the New River in Fort Lauderdale are open. The railroad bridges had some problems, but all are opening to navigation. And the Captain of the Port in Port Everglades opened the port for marine traffic at noon today. North port, mid-port and the turning basin are open to light transits only and operations are prohibited at night.
IGY Marinas has 17 marinas with many in the path of Hurricane Irma, including Florida marinas One Island Park in Miami Beach, Ortega Landing in Jacksonville and Maximo Marina in St. Petersburg.
“We’re doing an assessment right now, we need to be clear on the status of our marinas so we’ll get the information to you soon,” said Bert Fowles, vice president sales and marketing. [For the latest from IGY, click here.]
Other IGY marinas are Rodney Bay Marina in St. Lucia, The Yacht Club at Isle de Sol and Simpson Bay Marina in St. Maarten, Marina at Yacht Haven Grande in St. Thomas, and Blue Haven Marina in Turks and Caicos.
Suntex Marinas has 11 marinas in Florida and none had significant damage after Hurricane Irma. All are open for business.
Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale is open with no restrictions by order of the U.S. Coast Guard Captain of the Port.
Tuesday, Fort Lauderdale marina crews were putting yards back together to get ready for business. Most had minor yard damage and no boat damage, although many are working without electricity. Cell service is not 100 percent, so many marinas did not return calls this morning. Here’s the status of marinas The Triton talked with today:
Fort Lauderdale New River
“We had a 30-foot boat that came off a stand but that was all,” Hruska said. “We have 55 to 75 percent of our employees here doing cleanup, fence repair and putting everything back out.”
This morning the yard planned to begin launching boats.
“Seems like water came to six inches below the seawall,” he said. “We were fortunate. Just regular rain areas held water and we had no water in the main buildings, only some water blew in through door entrances.”
“One yacht has scratches because the fenders were not properly tied,” he said. “We have a new expedition yacht that clocked peak winds of 111 mph on Sunday afternoon and 98-102 mph on Sunday morning.”
The marina had power but lost it today when a transformer blew.
“We had 4 inches of water on the east access road, but that’s it,” Calot said. “Not one window broken and the tiki hut is in place. I’m impressed.”
“All boats are good,” CEO Bob Roscioli said. “Just a bent rail here and there, lots of debris and we lost some beautiful trees.”
Winds downed power lines during the storm and prompted a call to the fire department last night.
“Five firetrucks and about 20 firemen were here because the trees out front were catching on fire with a downed line,” Roscioli said. “They shut down State Road 84 about 8:30. Fortunately, the diesel and flammables right under it were safe.”
He said the New River and nearby streets were flooded when the tide came up.
“Water came up, but not over my seawall,” he said. “It flooded because the storm drains couldn’t drain to the river and State Road 84 is higher than our building.”
A small building and meeting rooms in the older part of yard had a foot of water in them and water was over the seawall at Secret Woods county park next door, Roscioli said.
“We turned down 75 boats on the waiting list and we haven’t made a dime in a week,” he said.
Roscioli supports 80 employees in the Dania Beach yard, plus 20 in the Donzi factory in Bradenton, which sustained flood damage.
“We’re starting to move boats out,” said Justine Avila, marketing and public relations coordinator, said. “The ones that came in for the hurricane are leaving and most others are staying for work.”
“Nothing fell over and nothing sank,” Hole said. “We had property damage like everyone else. We hauled lots of boats and we start launching tomorrow.”
Hole said employees are moving rafted boats to make clearance to launch.
“The trick is now to get everyone back,” he said. “We’re getting calls from Georgia, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, from people that evacuated.”
“We’re totally fine with no boat damage,” she said. “We’re up and running, fully operational and we had no major damage to structures.”
She reported no flooding, just a retention pond that often fills during rain, she said.
“We’re back hauling boats and the majority of employees are back to work.”
A press release Wednesday said both the Fort Lauderdale and Bahamas yards, “prepared diligently before the hurricane and we did not experience any serious damage to property or vessels. Both facilities are up and running and we are fully staffed.”
“There was no damage to boats to speak of,” Brewer said. “And just some cosmetic sheet metal damage and debris.”
The marina had higher tides but no water on the asphalt, he said.
“We do lots of prep work so we have a fair bit of reconstruction and rebuilding of tents to do,” he said.
“We’re all good, no flooding and the water did not come over the wall,” he said. “We’re putting everything back out and we have power.”
Fort Lauderdale Intracoastal Waterway and beach
“The water was not even over the parking lot,” she said. “We had some palms and seagrapes down, but they didn’t even hit the parked cars; some just barely had the leaves of the branches touching them.”
The barrier island was under a mandatory evacuation but about 80 boats stayed in the marina during the storm, she said. After the hurricane, some of SR A1A was closed due to a buildup of sand. Authorities are working to clear and open access.
“Some of the stern-to boats have sand in them, but all the boats were tied down good,” Lagasse said.
“We weathered the storm with no damage,” Quirk said. “Pier 66 has no power yet, but will soon.”
The marina was under mandatory evacuation orders for Fort Lauderdale beach, and residents and business owners have slowly been returning.
“The 17th Street bridge has a police checkpoint for people returning, to make sure they belong on the beach,” he said. “They are still clearing sand on A1A.”
“The marina will be out of power for some time, our power pedestals were under water,” Smyth said. “About 85 percent of our dock is unusable, we had water about three feet above the docks with 5-foot waves on top of that.”
“The marina was under mandatory evacuation last minute for surge,” he said. “We estimate damage at about $200,000.”
Smyth said power pedestals have been pulled off the dock and are getting sent to be rewired.
“We lost all of our decking with the surge,” he said. “We’re sourcing wood and calculating what it will take to repair the marina.”
Nearby Brickell Avenue is under 4 feet of water, he said.
“It’s bad but could be worse,” he said. “We have customers trying to return, who are getting kicked out from where they went for storm. We are working as fast a possible to try to bring clients back and will be able to take ones that don’t need power.”
“We got a full load of diesel and gas for cash sales,” Mundey said.
The 400-slip marina had 135 boats docked during the storm.
“We did lots of preparation and did not lose a single boat,” Mundey said. “There was damage to some of the piers and pilings, but we have checked them and will have an employee accompany tenants until the power is back up.”
Mundey said flooding was at least up to the finger piers.
West Palm Beach
“We have power and are getting everything ready,” she said. “God’s hand was on us and the marina. A couple of small sailboats from the ICW ended up out front, but they are being cleared.”
“Our floating docks are intact, and it appears all guest vessels have made it through the storm with minimal damage,” the release stated. “Stock Island and Key West are without power and water at this time, but we are optimistic services
will be forthcoming. The inshore waters around Key West and Stock Island have not been inspected at this time, thus boaters are strongly discouraged not to sail until cleared and all in-shore hazards are noted.”
Other sites around Florida
Dorie Cox is editor of The Triton. Comments on this story are welcome below.
A few photos from around South Florida: