Boaters brace for Earl

As Hurricane Earl continues to brush northward along the East Coast, boaters in its path continue to make preparations for the storm’s arrival, while reports from North Carolina’s Outer Banks indicated it had done less damage there than many had feared.

Earl’s center passed about 85 miles east of Cape Hatteras, which was 50 miles farther out than some forecasters had predicted, and North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue said there was no serious damage and urged people to get back out for Labor Day Weekend and “have a little fun and spend some money.”

Although the storm – which was 130 miles northeast of Cape Hatteras at 8 a.m. EDT this morning – has weakened to a Category 2 hurricane, its projected path could bring it near Cape Cod and Nantucket Island, Mass., and some worry the storm could be the worst to strike the area since Hurricane Bob in 1991.

On Nantucket, 1,400 boats had been brought ashore as of this morning and scores of others had sailed for calmer waters.

Preparations for the storm were also underway farther west in Connecticut, where a local meteorologist believed Earl might be “more of a vacation storm than a destructive storm.” Nevertheless, a broker at Southpaw Yacht Sales in Cos Cob, Conn., spent yesterday pulling some boats from the water and tying down the others.

“We’re going to be securing a lot,” said Bill Biebel, a broker at the business. “The bigger boats, we’re just doubling the lines.” Biebel said that not even the owners of 150-foot megayachts are taking any chances as some may seek refuge in the Hudson River.

In Maine, boat owners and yards also spent yesterday hauling out boats. Harbormasters were advising boaters in areas that were more exposed to the east wind to take small dinghies and tenders out of the water and to haul larger boats out as well if they could. For those whose boats remained in the water, two or even three mooring or anchor lines were recommended, and vessels also needed to be protected from rubbing against docks or other boats.

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