Michael Torras, the great grandson of Fernando J. Torras, for whom the St. Simons Island causeway is named, was not overly concerned Friday about the oncoming Hurricane Irma.
As the manager of the Brunswick Landing Marina, he knows a thing or two about hurricanes and how to protect the scores of vessels moored to the docks along the East River.
He advised boat owners to use extra lines to secure their boats and add more fenders than they normally would use.
“That’s pretty much the standard operating procedure, here,” he said.
Torras’s guidance was in line with advice given by Petty Officer 2nd Class Anthony Soto, a Jacksonville-based spokesman for the U.S. Coast Guard.
“Find a safe haven for your boat,” Soto said Friday. “If you can pull your boat out of the water, do that. We are advising all mariners to stay off the water entirely.”
As Hurricane Irma approaches the region, the Coast Guard’s abilities to conduct search and rescue operations will be significantly degraded, Soto said.
In particular, boat owners should secure any loose items that could be tossed around by wind. Stray life jackets and other such items can find their way to sea, where rescuers can mistake them for a person and initiate a false rescue alert, added Soto.
Lucky for the owners of boats tied up at Brunswick Landing Marina, the river is expected to help shield most of the vessels, Torras said.
“Until the 1970s, the Navy used this river as a hurricane hole,” he said. “We’re surrounded by land on three sides, and because the river flows south, the wind pushes the water out to sea.”
Brunswick Landing Marina, which was completely booked with boats Friday, has heavy-duty docks made to withstand the expected wind and rain.
“These are strong, concrete floating docks,” he said. “I think we’ll be OK.”