Boat Owners Prepare For Tropical Wind, Waves

Civil Defense says boat owners should use their own discretion regarding evacuations. Some harbormasters say they're telling boat owners to stay put. So the boat owners are preparing to do just that.

The Amber B is undergoing storm preparations. Owner Sam Fennell and his friend Ronnie Fairley enjoy many fishing trips on board, so they want to make sure the boat weathers whatever Arlene blows our way.

"We're cleaning all the bilge out and cleaning all the drains and stuff like that, so if we get a bunch of water it all flows out the back side," Fennell said.

Fennell expects a lot of wind and rain. But he's not worried that the Amber B will fare okay.

"We'll see. I'm sure it will, it's made it through the other ones. As long as I've got batteries for the bilge, I'll be alright."

Pierre Willems says the next several hours will be a waiting game.

"I'm just watching the situation very carefully and will monitor it and do whatever will be necessary."

The people we talked to say the best thing to do is leave their boats right where they are.

"It's a little late. I mean for a sailboat to start moving around in the back, it takes about five hours to get back there, so it's a little late," boat owner Brian Welch said.

Gulfport Harbormaster D.J. Ziegler kept up a steady trek, watching all the activity. He says storms are nothing new to veteran boat owners.

"Been through it many times, many times. So we want everybody to be prepared, but we don't want people to think it's the end of the world when it's not the end of the world."

If you're a boat owner thinking about seeking safe harbor, the Coast Guard and Mississippi Department of Transportation will keep draw bridges open to marine traffic until sustained winds reach 34 miles per hour. At that time the bridges will close.