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Crew can handle offshore storm

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By Staff Report

Hurricane Sandy may scare some tourists away and it may put a damper on activities, but the 50-knot winds South Florida is likely to feel beginning tonight don’t scare yacht captains and crew at the 53rd annual Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show.
“This is not much different than other times,” said Capt. Lee Rosbach of the 140-foot M/Y Just Enough. “We put on extra lines and our large shamu fenders. Gusts up to 50 knots shouldn’t be a problem.”
“The weather doesn’t matter; we’re having a boat show anyway,” said Capt. John Wampler, a freelance captain who helps move yachts into position each year. “The yachts are tied in and stitched together. If one leaves, that affects all the rest.”
With winds steady at about 12 mph, with gusts up to 26, yesterday, crew and workers spent much of the afternoon securing dockside plantings and signs.
“We’ve taken down our awning, added extra bow lines and fenders, and we brought the cushions inside,” said Bosun Lia Usilton of M/Y Sea Bowld, a 174-foot Oceanfast, a bunch of tie wraps in her hand. “If it gets worse, we’ll keep tying down. We may bring in the shoe basket if it gets bad.”
But the worst is yet to come, with the windiest weather expected tonight and much of tomorrow.
The National Weather Service predicted Hurricane Sandy to move due north over Jamaica and Cuba before turning northeastward over the Bahamas today and tomorrow.
South Florida’s coast will see tropical storm-force winds late tonight and most of tomorrow of 30-40 mph with gusts up to 60 mph. Occasional bands of rain are also likely.
Seas are expected to be 15-20 feet. Beach erosion is a concern, including sand on A1A outside the show.
But adverse weather is nothing new to the show. Torrential rain last year swamped a few walkways in exhibitor tents and kept chamois cloths busy.
Still, the tents and docks were busy.
And in 2005, Hurricane Wilma blew 100 mph winds over Ft. Lauderdale a few days before opening day. The strongest storm the city had seen in more than 50 years destroyed tents, flipped floating docks, blew loose yachts, downed power lines and closed roads.
Despite all that – and criticism tht they were being callous to the city’s condition – organizers rescheduled the show to open the following week.
History has proved that was the right decision. The Ft. Lauderdale show represents a significant portion of many companies’ annual revenues.
So today, and tomorrow as the weather is worst, the show will go on.

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