Marinas clean up and recover after Hurricane Matthew

Oct 11, 2016 by Dorie Cox

UPDATE Oct. 11

Hurricane Matthew left a trail of death, damage and flooding between Haiti, Cuba, the Bahamas and the southeastern United States this past week.

Highbourne Cay Marina felt the brunt of the hurricane, and is cleaning up.

“We took a beating for five to six hours,” said Carolyn Cartwright, assistant manager at Highbourne Cay Marina in the Exumas. She said winds ranged from 125 to 155 mph and the island lost many trees and roof shingles.

“All the people are great, we did great … thankfully,” Cartwright said.

She said all boats were pulled out of the water for liability reasons. And the resort has its own power plant, reverse osmosis system, and landline phones.

“The cell phones are dead; we’re waiting on the Bahamian phone company for those,” she said.

The resort has staff housing, a fully stocked food store and enough diesel and gas for about two months.

“Our mailboat out of Nassau, fortunately his boat weathered the storm, so he’s available to bring in supplies,” she said. “We’re fortunate not to be in Nassau, where they are still suffering extensive damage.”

David Hocher, owner of Staniel Cay Yacht Club in the Exumas, Bahamas, reported that the club weathered the storm well.

“The eye passed about 30-35 miles to our west, keeping us out of the west wind. The wind stayed southeast and south last night [Oct. 5] and today [Oct. 6]. No dock damage at all, but lots of trees down.

“Basically, the majority of damage on Staniel Cay was shingles being blown away; there are lots of blue tarps in use right now,” Hocher said. “No major structural damage other than one hangar at the airstrip had its doors blown off. Overall, Staniel Cay was very lucky. We never lost communications, and power and water was only down for less than a full day.”

Hocher said his company, Watermakers Air, is working to partner with other airline charter operators to get relief supplies to Andros Island.

“Andros was hit hard and many small communities there are still without power and water,” he said.

Rains and winds of the storm, which varied in strength up to Category 4, have contributed to continued flooding along waterways in the eastern parts of North and South Carolina. Electrical power was restored at Thunderbolt Marine in Savannah, Ga., yesterday and its staff is on duty today.

“This was the worst storm the area has seen in a hundred years,” Thunderbolt President Ernest D’Alto said. “None of the boats were damaged, including seven big yachts and 14 smaller boats. All the boats did great and crew were out rinsing off pine needles.”

A captain who stayed onboard one of the yachts during the storm told D’Alto that the storm surge was the scariest part. The marina had a record high tide and water came up a foot over the seawall.

“I’ve never seen water up over the seawall before,” D’Alto said.

The most severe damage was caused when the roll-up door blew into the machine shop, the door to the wood shop was partly blown in and an old wooden dock on the property sustained two broken pilings, D’Alto said.

“We were very fortunate,” he said. “Great preparations were probably a good part of it; that and the way the basin is set up. We’re off the [Savannah] river and there is not really a current to contend with.”

The U.S. Coast Guard is working to reopen the ports of Savannah and Brunswick in Georgia.

USCG Sector 7 reported that about 50 navigational aids were damaged or destroyed and several major navigational buoys were pulled off station by the storm.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are conducting underwater surveys of channels to confirm they are clear of obstructions and the depth is sufficient for deep-draft vessel traffic.

Charleston City Marina in South Carolina is up and running, according to dock office manager Stephanie Collins. Electrical power was out until Monday, Collins said, but damage was minimal.

“We’re fully operational,” she said. “We had a little flooding in the dock office, but we took the office equipment home. And there are downed trees and power lines.”

The marina has resumed regular activities.

“Our fuel tanks are full, the power is back up and we’re taking transients,” marina general manager David Rogers said. “We’re busy because there are fewer marinas open in the area.

“We’re blessed,” he said. “The staff did a great job with pre-storm and post-hurricane clean up. We’re cleaning seagrass off the docks, now.”

Dorie Cox is editor of The Triton. Comments are welcome below.

To donate or help, here are a few relief effort sites created by members of the yachting industry:


Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina continue to prepare, the Bahamas clean up and South Florida unpacks from Hurricane Matthew this week.

Yachts and crew in Savannah, Georgia have prepared for the storm according to Ernest D’Alto, president of Thunderbolt Marine.

“We buttoned down yesterday and are closed today,” D’Alto said of preparations in the yard. “We’re expecting contact tomorrow between 5 p.m. and 2 a.m.”

Charleston City Marina in Charleston, South Carolina closed at noon on Wed., Oct. 5 and expects to remain closed until Sun., Oct. 9 according to the city’s Facebook page.

The storm is tracking to be downgraded to a category 1 hurricane and may hit close to the coast of North Carolina this weekend. Some forecasts for the storm include a turn to the Atlantic Ocean with a circle back toward the Bahamas, and possibly Florida, as a weaker system next week.


Beginning at 8 p.m., all bridges on the New River, Miami River, and Intracoastal Waterway in Miami-Dade and Broward counties will be closed in preparation of Hurricane Matthew, according to a U.S. Coast Guard advisory. According to the USCG, all bridges will be locked down by 1 a.m.

Port conditions in Port Everglades and the Port of Miami have been set to Yankee, which means vessels will be able to move within the port with no restrictions, but any requests to arrive or depart the port will be made on a case-by-case basis, to be reviewed by the captain of the port. Sustained gale force winds of 25 mph and gusts up to 40 mph are expected within 24 hours.

Port Condition Zulu, which prohibits vessels from entering or transiting within a port without permission of the COTP, is expected to be set at 10 p.m., when sustained gale force winds are expected within 12 hours., October 6, 2016.

For updates or details contact:

  • Click for details from U.S. Coast Guard Sector 7 in Miami
  • Marine Safety Information Bulletin post updates on Homeport under Port Condition.
  • The COTP may be reached at telephone (305) 535-4472, or via Channel 16 VHF FM Marine Radio through Coast Guard Sector Miami.
  • More Information on how to prepare for a hurricane can be found at the Coast Guard’s Storm Center webpage.
  • For information on Hurricane Matthew’s progress and hurricane preparedness, please visit the National Hurricane Center‘s webpage (
  • For breaking news, follow the USCG on Twitter @USCGSoutheast.


Yacht captains, marinas, tow companies and divers in South Florida are busy this morning preparing for Hurricane Matthew. The Category 4 storm made landfall this morning in Haiti with sustained winds of 145 mph.

The storm is expected to hit Eastern Cuba and then cross over the Bahamas tomorrow and Thursday. Effects are expected to impact South Florida as well before the storm heads up the U.S. East Coast to Savannah, Charleston and back east to Cape Hatteras.

Capt. Pedro Camargo runs several yachts. M/Y Brunello, a 115 Benetti, is already docked west of I-95 in Ft. Lauderdale in safe harbor at Universal Marine Center. But he plans to move M/Y Sol, a 120-foot Riva, up the Miami River close to Miami International Airport for safe dockage.

“We’re taking dodgers down, tying up all the canvas, putting all cushions, chairs and everything that can fly around inside the boat,” Camargo said by phone.

He is doubling docking lines and tying on extra fenders.

“‘I’m more concerned about tides than winds,” Capt. Camargo said. “I’m no weather forecaster, but it looks like we’ll have strong winds, and if the eye is close, we’ll have big tides.”

Capt. David Sloate of the 157-foot M/Y Cocktails, was already tucked in the basin at Lauderdale Marine Center this morning, going through a survey. He’s got chains on the cleats, eight lines out to the chains, and is stowing all he can. The crew have stocked the vessel to withstand any disruption in services afterward, and he’s thinking next how he can help those around him get secure.

“I’m more worried about flying objects, that and the storm surge,” he said.


Hurricane Matthew

Many parts of the South Florida marine industry are mobilizing in preparation, said Geno Gargiulo, president of Commercial Diving Services of Florida.

“We’re starting to drop storm anchors, marinas are removing dock boxes and yachts are filling water tanks and topping off fuel,” Gargiulo said.

He recalled lessons learned from Hurricane Wilma in 2005.

“Five years after Wilma, we were still finding dock boxes in the water,” he said. “We thought we had another day with Wilma, but it came faster than we thought.”

Tow boats are busy, too. Courtney Day of Cape Ann Salvage and Towing spent the morning moving yachts up the New River in Ft. Lauderdale.

“Last night at 5 o’clock, the phone calls started coming in,” Day said. “Everyone is going up river to LMC, Roscioli, Rolly, Bradford and private docks.

“We don’t need it, so close to the [Fort Lauderdale] boat show with so many boats in town,” he said. “If it hits, we will be cleaning up for weeks.”

Dorie Cox is editor of The Triton. Comments on this story are welcome at Publisher Lucy Chabot Reed contributed to this story.

For more information about Hurricane Matthew, click here.

For the NOAA map, click here.


About Dorie Cox

Dorie Cox is a writer with Triton News.

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