Boaters prepare to move vessels to safety

Boaters prepare to move vessels to safety

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - As Tropical Storm Nate begins to approach the Coast, some are preparing their boats to leave.

The Gulfport Small Craft Harbor is new and sturdy, but even with a few feet of storm surge, these boats are vulnerable.

Some have already left, and more will likely follow. Darien Hill has a big task ahead; moving eight boats without much time to spare.

"Our stress levels are higher because we're on a time crunch to get these things done," said Hill, who has to move a 110-foot symmetrical schooner to Bayou La Batre.

In addition to the schooner, Hill has several other smaller vessels to transport to a safe place.

"We'd like to get the boats that we have to get off-shore moved earlier than later because the weather's going to be deteriorating as we go on," Hill said.

Doug Wimberly hasn't made his decision yet on whether or not to move his 40-foot Biloxi Lugger. For right now, he's keeping an eye on things.

"Any time that a tropical depression or storm moves into the Gulf, we have to watch that pretty close," Wimberly said. "This boat doesn't go very fast. It only goes about 8 or 9 miles an hour, so it takes us a while to get it moved to safety."

Harbor Master George Manemann hasn't made an official call but defers to the standard procedures.

"If the National Hurricane Center advises that we're going to have a rise of seawater of 4-feet or more, that's the key to leave," Manemann said.

Most people heed the warning. As of early Thursday afternoon, 10 boats have been moved from the harbor.

"Our boaters, we hound them all the time. We let them know consistently that we have a hurricane plan, and we expect them to have plans of their own to be ready to go if they need to go," added Manemann. "Our advice is to go east toward Biloxi. When you get to Biloxi, take a left, go under the bridge and follow everybody else and you'll find a hurricane hold," he said. "It's as simple as that."

The WLOX weather team is keeping a close eye on the threat of severe weather. Download the WLOX First Alert Weather app or visit wlox.com/weather for the latest updates, and click here to view the WLOX Hurricane Center.

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