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Coast Guard warns of gale force winds

Owner of large boats urged to move vessels to inland marinas

By Nathan Mayberg - Editor | Nov 5, 2020

The U.S. Coast Guard has has set port condition Whiskey for the ports of Fort Myers, Tampa, St. Petersburg and Manatee due to the expectation of gale force winds of 25 mph and up to 40 mph from Tropical Storm Eta.

The Coast Guard issued the announcement Thursday, with the strong winds expected through Sunday.

Sustained winds between 39 mph and 54 mph are also possible, according to the Coast Guard.

The ports are currently opened to commercial traffic, according to the statement.Vessels desiring to remain in port must immediately contact the COTP to receive permission and are required to submit a safe mooring plan in writing.Vessels bound for South Florida unable to depart 24 hours prior to threatening winds making landfall are advised to seek an alternate destination.

Pleasure crafts are advised to seek safe harbor. Drawbridges may not be operating if sustained winds reach 25 mph or when an evacuation is in progress. Port facilities are advised to review their heavy weather plans and take all necessary precautions to adequately prepare for the expected conditions. Mariners can view the latest port updates on the Coast Guard’s Homeport site.

Owners of large boats are urged to move their vessels to inland marinas where they will be less vulnerable to breaking free of their moorings or to sustaining damage. Trailer-able boats should be pulled from the water and stored in a place that is not prone to flooding. Those who are leaving their boats in the water are reminded to remove EPIRBs and to secure life rings, lifejackets and small boats.

Ronald Shawver, Boatswain’s Mate Second Class for the U.S. Coast Guard on Fort Myers Beach, said a warning for swimmers to stay out of the water due to expected strong waves has not been issued yet, though could happen by the end of the day depending on a shift in the weather.

As of Friday afternoon, winds have been in the 15-20 mph range and “not too bad,” he said.

The Coast Guard station in St. Petersburg said Tropical Storm Eta is heading to Cuba as of Friday afternoon and is projected to hit the coast of Florida on Sunday.