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Party Boats Hope to Ride Out Irene

Some captains will be aboard their recreational fishing boats when Hurricane Irene comes through the Jersey Shore

For many boaters, the best method of protecting their boat from damage in a hurricane involves removing it from the water completely.

For the larger boats, however, taking it out of the water completely isn't a realistic option.

So how are the captains of local boats—like the 125-foot Jamaica or the 90-foot Gambler or the 90-foot Miss Barnegat Light—preparing to protect themselves when Hurricane Irene comes through the Jersey Shore this weekend?

"We'll be doubling up our lines to tie her up to the dock," said Capt. Bob Bogan, whose Gambler sails out of Inlet Basin in Point Pleasant Beach, on the south side of the Manasquan Inlet. While he normally would use just a couple of lines, or ropes, to tie the boat up at the dock, this weekend he'll be adding extra lines from the stern and the bow, spring lines (which control the forward and backward motion of the boat at the dock), all to keep it securely tied to the dock through the storm surge.

"We're right inside the inlet," Bob Bogan said, "so we get a real bad storm surge. The rub rails took a beating (in the last major storm)."

"And then we'll just pray for the best," said Bob Bogan, who had patrons out fishing for fluke on Thursday afternoon. "Right now, it's not too bad."

Across the inlet on the Brielle side, Capt. Tony Bogan of Bogan's Basin, one of the most well-known groups of recreational fishing boats at the Jersey Shore, had similar plans to add extra lines.

But the captain—whose family's boats include the Jamaica, the Jamaica II, the Paramount and the River Belle, which is a paddleboat used for dinner cruises—said in addition to the extra lines, he and other captains in the family will be riding out the storm on their boats.

"Once the storm arrives, we won't be able to get to the boats if there's a problem," said Tony Bogan, who is a cousin of Bob Bogan. "If you're on a boat and it breaks free, at least you can do something about it rather than it floating down and banging into things," and getting badly damaged, he said.

The bigger preparation, he said, involves getting everything up off the docks that could blow away, float away or be ruined by flooding.

Some of the boats may be moved to a more sheltered location up the river or up one of the creeks, Tony Bogan said, because the storm surge at Brielle Basin will likely be significant because it is directly in the path from Manasquan Inlet.

However, it would take a massive storm surge to lift the boats higher than the pilings they'll be tied to, because the pilings are designed to be high enough that the boats remain tied up.

"Even in 1992 (during the December nor'easter that pounded the Jersey Shore for three straight days) the boats never got higher than the pilings, and those were some of the highest tides anyone in the family had seen in 70 years," Tony Bogan said.

If a boat breaks free, "worst-case scenario we can drive it into the mud," Tony Bogan said. "We could drive the Jamaica right up on Treasure Island. Then it wouldn't go anywhere, and that damage would be much smaller."

The captains in Barnegat Light have similar plans, said Karen Larson, whose family owns the 90-foot Miss Barnegat Light. "We hope to have captains on every boat," she said.

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