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Sailors spend rocky night in Summerside, P.E.I., marina amid Dorian

Sue Nakazawa and Curt Hermann from Chicago in the United States spent the night in their vessel docked in Summerside's marina.
Sue Nakazawa and Curt Hermann from Chicago in the United States spent the night in their vessel docked in Summerside's marina. - Desiree Anstey
SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. —

It was a rocky, but safe Saturday night for a U.S. couple that decided to ride out hurricane Dorian on their vessel docked in Summerside’s marina.

While many on land were waking up to power outages, toppled trees and a trail of debris Sunday morning, Curt Hermann and Sue Nakazawa sipped coffee in the warm comfort of their boat.

“Over the night we felt safe because we were enclosed in the small marina and right near the Canadian Coast Guard vessel. I even joked with the Coast Guards and said, ‘All you need to do is walk 10 metres to save us,” said Hermann.

Nakazawa said while it was mostly a noisy and rocky night in the boat, the power outage caused the most inconvenience with the loss of heat.

Hermann and Nakazawa originally planned to continue to Halifax and then onto the Bahamas, but hurricane Dorian altered their path.

“We sailed from Chicago to P.E.I. and have been here for one week, touring, but plan to sail down to the Caribbean on Monday afternoon, if it’s safe, and then divert to the Islands least affected by the weather,” said Hermann.

Nakazawa said the Summerside Yacht Club and Marina staff were “wonderful and really helpful” over the night while keeping a lookout on all those weathering the storm.

Hurricane Dorian hit Nova Scotia as a category 1 storm but, as it slammed Summerside near midnight, it became a post-tropical storm.

Hermann and Nakazawa were not the only ones to take refuge in their vessel.

Skipper Paul Bingham and his crew member were hurriedly securing their sailboat early Saturday morning before the downpour of rain and high winds.

“We sailed from Toronto to P.E.I. for a wedding and initially planned to spend three days here before sailing to Nova Scotia, and then continuing south to New Zealand,” said Bingham, who said the weather altered his plan with a two-week wait for hurricane Dorian.

“I didn’t want to sail down to Nova Scotia because it seems the province will be hit the hardest. But Summerside’s marina is protected well. It’s probably one of the best ones in the Maritimes, so we – myself and another crew member – decided to stay here as our hurricane home.”

“I’m not nervous about staying in this marina as hurricane Dorian approaches. I think our preparation is good, but I have never weathered a hurricane before. I’m from Wellington, in New Zealand, which is the windiest city in the world, but this will be a new experience,” said Bingham before the storm hit.

“She’s a big solid cruising boat, designed to weather storms. The problem, however, with the marina is surging of water. You can bump against things and other boats, parts of the marina can break off into flying debris, so marinas can be very dangerous – and out on the open water is sometimes safer,” he continued.

Bingham’s vessel was suspended, like a giant spider’s web, between secured lines neighbouring Hermann and Nakazawa. 

“I wasn’t scared. It was just annoying, the sustained winds and bumpiness. The water also surged and brought the boat almost level to the walkway, but the Summerside Yacht Club and Marina did a great job in making us feel very safe and it’s a wonderful enclosed marina,” said Hermann.

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