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Precautions taken to prevent boats from hitting pier

By Mark Young, Islander Reporter

Scenes like this at Cortez Beach in Bradenton Beach in June during Tropical Storm Debby were avoided as Tropical Storm Isaac passed north in the Gulf of Mexico. Officials warn that the unpredictability of storms require caution and preparation. Islander Photo: Mark Young

More than a half dozen boats broke anchor in Sarasota Bay and crashed into the Historic Bridge Street Pier during June’s island brush with Tropical Storm Debby.

In all, 27 boats were reported sunk or destroyed across Manatee County following Debby, according to Bradenton Beach Police Department Lt. John Cosby.

As Isaac approached the Tampa Bay area, Cosby called an emergency city meeting Aug. 24 to discuss storm preparation.

TS Debby’s overall damage on the island was minimal, but an exception was the pier, which sustained enough damage to force the city to close it for several days, although the restaurant remained open.

The city did not want a repeat of the TS Debby event during TS Isaac.

“We went out to speak to the boat owners and had a good meeting with them,” said Cosby. “They all had a lot of questions and we had our concerns, as well.”

Cosby said the boat owners, many of whom live on their boats, were taking precautions.

“Many of them were actually diving down to secure their anchors further into the muck or double anchoring,” said Cosby. “It was the boats that had deeper anchors that didn’t go anywhere during Debby.”

Cosby said before TS Debby there were several boats anchored just south of the pier that had been secured and left by their owners.

“The difference is that the people who are living on their boats are there to prepare for a storm,” he said. “Those who anchored and left the area without preparing for a storm are the ones who lost their boats.”

Cosby said every boat currently anchored in the pier area was occupied and being prepared for the storm.

“Any boat that wasn’t being occupied prior to Debby is basically no longer there,” he said.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission was advising all boat owners to prepare for Isaac.

FWC recommended that if people trailer their boats to secure the vessel in a safe location, let the air out of trailer tires, block the wheels, and if possible, anchor the boat down or add weight to help keep it in place.

FWC also advised “thrill seekers” to avoid high waters created by the storm.

“Please, keep in mind that when people choose to act irresponsibly, they jeopardize others,” said Capt. Tom Shipp, with FWC’s Boating and Waterways Section in a statement.

“They cause law enforcement officers, rescue workers and other emergency personnel to risk their lives unnecessarily,” Shipp said.

FWC reminded all boaters that tropical storms and hurricanes are unpredictable.

For more information on how to properly anchor or store a vessel, visit myfwc.com/boating. Click on Safety and Education and select Hurricane.

After the storm, boaters who observe damaged waterway markers are asked to call 866-405-2869.

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