Hurricane Jose was downgraded to a tropical storm as it moved towards Southern New England. But sailors are still preparing.
At the Newport Yacht Club, dinghies and pleasure yachts were all getting tied down as the storm approached. Mike Anderson of Newport was tying up his boat “Carpe Diem.”
“The yacht club has provisions if they didn’t think we could, so they would tell us to get out, and they haven’t,” said Anderson. “So I’m just making sure it’s secure, doesn’t bounce around too much and damage any of the docks.”
Boaters also remove all sails and canvas as a precaution before a storm, explained Dockmaster Stefan Nassaney.
“You don’t want to catch too much wind off your boat, because in that case things will get pretty destroyed,” said Nassaney. “I don’t think it’s going to be too bad, but things like the blue canvas right there, that has nothing on wind. That will be shredded if it’s that bad.”
At the Newport Shipyard, home to multimillion-dollar yachts, sailors were reinforcing rope tie, removing the sails and canvas that could catch wind, and putting rubber fenders along the boat sides.
David Clemens, who works on one of the yachts, was getting ready to spend a day or two inside the boat to protect it from damage as the storms moves through.
“We’ll be on the boat, keeping an eye on the wind, wind direction, and strength, and kind of the overall picture, the meta-picture, of what the storm’s doing,” said Clemens. “And then just constant vigilance on the lines and just being prepared at a moment’s notice to adjust stuff and just make sure nothing gets messed up.”
Clemons' craft will remain at the dock, not on the open ocean, where swells are expected to reach at least 10 feet.
Eli Dana, general manager at Newport Shipyard, said stronger storms like Irene and Sandy had caused only limited boat damage. So far, forecasters are expecting winds from Jose to be less severe than those earlier storms.
“If a storm was going to be a direct hit then we would try to encourage as many of [the boaters] to head up to Maine or other safe places,” said Dana. “But with forecasts of 35-50 (mph) we should be pretty well off. There’ll be some damage, but hopefully it will be minimal.”
Wind gusts could top 40 miles per hour in Newport on Wednesday.