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Delayed Reaction; Marinas Busy as Residents Prep Boats Before the Storm

On Wednesday, local marinas reported relaxed activity. The next day, busy offices and ringing phones proved residents were starting to heed storm warnings.

Bob Sharkey barely had time Thursday to finish his sandwich and take a sip from his box juice.

Between answering calls from customers and keeping a close watch on the hurricane radar filling up all corners of his computer screen, the project manager at New England Boatworks was extremely busy.

"We're flat out," Sharkey said. "There are many boats still needing to be pulled out. People are calling us and asking about the storm. We have three travel lifts that will be running from dawn to dusk to haul boats out."

New England Boatworks, a private marina with roughly 100 employees, was jammed with employees Thursday working to prepare for the impending Hurricane Earl. People ran in and out of the office as the phones continued to ring.

"Most insurance companies prefer that the boats are taken out of the water," Sharkey said. "However, this marina is a 'hurricane hole' built by the Navy. It's probably the safest marina in the area to ride out the storm in."

New England Boatworks will store approximately 30 to 50 vessels on land as the hurricane passes over the region late Friday. 

"We expect to haul boats up until Friday afternoon when we expect the winds to increase," Sharkey said.

The company is also offering information about hurricane preparedness on their Web site here.

Across town, at another marina, the activity appeared to be slowing down.

An employee of the Pirate Cove Marina, located off Point Road, said the marina had been busy with phone calls, but boats were not being pulled out of the water.

Customers were preparing their boats, however, for the impending storm.

Over in Common Fence Point, at Brewer Sakonnet Marina, customers appeared to be relaxing and preparing at the same time.

Residents packed up their boat sails, while other family members laid out in the sun for one last time.

"There's always something to be concerned about," said Bill Dispirito of Westport, who was preparing his boat at the marina, but wasn't too concerned about Earl.

"You never know what's going to happen," he said. "I keep my boat here year round. I've been through hurricanes, tropical storms, blizzards, Nor' Easters, you name it."

Mitch Myette of Bristol sailed his C&C 25 into Brewer Sakonnet Marina from Bristol Thursday for safety reasons. He also took the sails down.

"I'm insured, but I am worried because my wife and I put a lot of work into the boat," Myette said. "Bristol Harbor is not a good place to be right now."

"Bristol's a whole open channel," added Dispirito.

"I made a lot of calls around to the different marinas," said Myette. "Most of them were booked up. A lot of people are booking slips."

Employees of the marina said they had been busy.

"We're battening down the hatches," said Dave Rodrigues, general manager for Brewer Sakonnet Marina. "We're doubling up on docks, taking the sails off."

Rodrigues said they are not hauling any boats out of the water. Customers are welcome to take their boats out, but they are probably safer off dry land, he said.

"In this location, they are safer if they leave them in the water," Rodrigues said.

Dispirito took the sails off his Catalina 30 sailboat just to be safe.

"You know, I'm kind of looking forward to this storm," he said. "For a sailor, this is excitement."

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