By Dorie Cox
UPDATE Sept. 3
Communication with employees in the Bahamas has declined during slow-moving Hurricane Dorian, according to Michael Kelly, president and CEO at Bradford Marine. Staff in the Fort Lauderdale yard have been in contact with some of the 70 employees at the company’s yard in Freeport, Grand Bahamas, using a WhatsApp group.
“We don’t have an assessment on how the property is; cell phone batteries are starting to die,” Kelly said this morning from Bradford’s Fort Lauderdale yard. “Yesterday, we had check-ins, but today, part of the issue is cell phone batteries. We’re saying prayers and hoping they’re OK over there.”
Hurricane Dorian, which reached winds of 185 mph as a Category 5, is now a Category 3 storm that has stalled around Grand Bahama with maximum sustained winds of 120 mph. The storm is expected to move slowly toward the north-northwest and veer north just off the U.S. East Coast for most of today.
Bradford crew in the Bahamas have posted photos of rising water at their homes, but Kelly said there is no information about the yard because staff were sent home to be with their families.
“We’ve heard of massive flooding, high winds, lots of rescues, and people getting trapped as the water has risen,” Kelly said of reports from the Bahamas team.
Bradford Marine is working with the Rotary Club of Freeport to allow commercial use of the yard’s dock space for ships in relief efforts, Kelly said. With water depths of 25 feet, the yard can accommodate commercial ships and yachts up to 400 feet. The property houses a travelift and a 1,200-ton floating drydock, several shops including welding and machine shops, and a main office. For the storm, boats were stored on the hard, anchored into anchor points in concrete, Kelly said.
To see more ways to help, read this story: Yachties mobilize to help Bahamas.
“We’ll get assessments today on how the docks fared,” Kelly said. “We have bulkheads and can help with relief efforts.”
Joe Dargavage, general manager of Romora Bay Resort and Marina, offered this update Monday morning from Harbour Island: Romora Bay Resort and Marina, along with all the other hotels, resorts and marinas on Harbour Island, were blessed to miss the brunt of the storm. We had 48 hours of heavy rains and tropical storm-force winds, but there was no major damage to any of the properties. In addition, our lovely Dunmore Town (Briland) also did very well.
“Our world famous “Pink Sand Beach” , stood the test of time, and had almost zero erosion.
“It will take a day or so to sweep up and take the shutters down, but Romora Bay, both the marina and hotel, will be fully open by Wednesday.
“Harbour Island and its people now stand ready to assist in any way possible the less fortunate in the path of this terrible storm.”
Apparently, a photo making the rounds on social media from Valentine’s Resort & Marina “looks much worse than it is. Valentine’s has slight damage to one small interior dock. All else is great at their entire marina and resort,” Dargavage clarified.
UPDATE Sept. 2
People on the east coast of Florida continue to wait and watch the slow moving Category 5 storm, Hurricane Dorian as it pounds The Bahamas with sustained winds of 160 mph.
Fort Pierce, located more than 100 miles west of the center of the storm and about 70 miles north of West Palm Beach, is home to two large yacht facilities.
No yachts are at the docks as of Monday morning, according to Buddy Haack, operations manager at Fort Pierce Yacht and Ship.
“We had M/Y Compass Rose, but they left Friday,” he said. “We have a few squalls and we got the [storm] shutters up. There is not much more that we can do.”
Click for Florida Disaster for evacuation and other storm-related information.
UPDATE Sept. 1
The U.S. Coast Guard had issued a marine information bulletin for closure of Miami River, Port of Miami, Port Everglades, Port of Palm Beach, and Port of Ft. Pierce as of 8 p.m. tonight.
“This means no vessel movement without Captain of the Port prior approval,” according to Patience Cohn, industry liaison for Marine Industries Association of South Florida.
Bridge lock-downs in Broward County began at noon and the swing bridge on SE 11th Avenue was scheduled to lock down at 2 p.m.
Drawbridges in all counties, Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Martin, St Lucie, and Indian River are expected to be in full lock-down by 8:00 p.m.
Questions regarding this MSIB or required actions should be directed to the Marine Transportation System Recovery Unit by telephone at (305) 535-4553 and Marine Safety Information Bulletin updates are available on Homeport at homeport.uscg.mil/miami under “Port Conditions”.
The COTP may be reached by telephone at (305) 535-4472, or via Channel 16 VHF FM Marine Radio through Coast Guard Sector Miami.
UPDATE Aug. 31:
Hurricane Dorian remains a Category 4 strength storm as it heads to The Bahamas. NOAA and Air Force hurricane hunter aircraft reaffirmed storm winds on Saturday evening with movement west at 8 mph with maximum sustained winds of 150 mph.
Bradford Bahamas is prepared for the storm’s arrival with a detailed hurricane plan, according to Michael Kelly, president and CEO at Bradford. The staff most recently went through a major storm with Hurricane Matthew in 2016.
“They have been implementing the plan all week and securing as many as possible on land,” Kelly said. “They’ve gone through it before and they know what they’re doing. They started implementing early.”
Crew at Bradford Fort Lauderdale made final preparations at the yard today for potential wind and rain conditions starting on Sunday.
Yacht captains and crew are navigating in and tying down at South Florida marinas and shipyards in preparation for a possible direct hit from Hurricane Dorian.
Diverse forecasting models are coming closer together with predictions for the Category 3 storm to begin impacting the northwestern Bahamas on Saturday and possible landfall as a Category 4 storm on the central east coast of Florida with rain and wind beginning Sunday evening.
As of the 2 p.m. update from the National Hurricane Center, the location is 24.8°N 70.3°W, moving NW at 10mph with minimum barometric pressure at 970 mb and maximum sustained winds at 115 mph.
Bob Roscioli spent Thursday morning in the shipyard at Roscioli Yachting Center as yachts were being secured.
“We hauled four yesterday, we’re full on land now and the lift is closed,” he said. “We’re only docking now.”
In the business for nearly 60 years, Roscioli has weathered many storms and said the atmosphere in the yard is a “panic mode, just like every year, where people wait until the last minute.”
“We have reservations for 25, not counting people already in the yard, but there are 75 on the waiting list,” he said. “There are only so many dockage spaces and we are just one marina.”
Port 32 Fort Lauderdale opened for business this year and is filling up quickly, said Bruce Wallace, director of operations for Port 32 Marinas.
“We’re staying busy,” Wallace said on Thursday afternoon. “We had several come in in the middle of the night. We have a couple more today, and then the house will be full.”
Although the hurricane is a serious threat to many of the Port 32 marinas around the state of Florida, including Palm Gardens and Tampa, he said they are well prepared.
“It [Hurricane Dorian] does not look good, but everything is brand new so we hope everything weathers through it,” he said. “We put some Med moorings in the basin, and right now I’m thinking it’s a genius move.”
The team at the Marine Industries Association of South Florida is working with local authorities to update bridge management and closures. Updates from the group will be shared when available.
Higher than typical tides, known as King Tides, may add to flooding in some Florida areas, according to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) projected tides. The water height can be exacerbated by rainfall, wind strength, storm direction and high water tables, or groundwater levels, due to recent rain. King Tides are predicted to peak on Aug. 29-Sep 3, Sept. 26-Oct 3, Oct. 25-31, and Nov. 24-28.
Beginning as a tropical storm, Dorian first affected several islands in the Caribbean. In the Virgin Islands, local freelance reporter Carol Bareuther said that power is out on St. Thomas, USVI.
Dorie Cox is editor of The Triton. Comments are welcome below.