The Greenville News
Published 7:20 PM EDT Sep 12, 2018
LITTLE RIVER, S.C. – Rolling up some plastic windows on his 46-foot cabin cruiser Wednesday, Masten Cloer admitted he was nervous. A new weather forecast predicted Hurricane Florence changing paths to make a landfall near his marina at the border of North Carolina and South Carolina.
"I talked to some of the older people down here, and they are worried," he said.
Cloer, himself, though, is thus far undeterred. The 57-year-old from Hudson, North Carolina, is planning to ride out the powerful, destructive storm on his boat, named Later, while it's docked at the marina, located on the Intracoastal Waterway about 2 miles from the Atlantic shore of Cherry Grove Beach.
"We're pretty far from the beach," Cloer said. "But all water rises together."
A backhoe business operator back home in the mountains of North Carolina near Blowing Rock, Cloer said he could and would disembark if the storm becomes too violent.
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He's one of dozens of boat owners at the Lightkeepers Village Marina who have chosen to keep their boats docked during the impending storm.
Steve and Jill Forsythe are among them. They removed their boat's canvas, tied double lines around the tall pilings and secured the sails Wednesday in preparation for the storm.
“We have a 46-foot boat with a 5-foot draft, so there are just not a ton of places you can put it,” Jill Forsythe said. “So we’re tying it up and hoping for the best.”
Setting sail for a new location wasn't a reasonable option.
"We’re not as fast as the Navy in outrunning a storm,” she said.
But the predicted path of Hurricane Florence was enough to encourage her and her husband to leave their boat behind.
“We’re not going to stay for this one," she said. "We’re going to head west to get out of the flood zone and then head north.”
George Rubis, assistant dockmaster of the marina, said the marina has 125 slips, and about half of those boats have been moved. He said it is a personal decision by each boat's owner what decide to do in the face of a storm.
Eric and Barbara Coates of Little River plan to keep their boat docked and stay in a nearby condo.
“We’ll be staying here and hoping the boat is still here when it’s done,” Eric Coates said.
His wife said they can see the boat, a 44-foot-long fast trawler, from their condo. The couple have owned their boat since 2010, and Eric said he has been boating for 30 years.
“I’ve been in some storms,” he said, “but this one could be fun.”
Many members of the surrounding neighborhood say they plan to stay in their residences, fortified by their experiences with prior hurricanes.
Around the corner from the marina, Stacy and Billy Prince packed their vehicle to leave Wednesday afternoon. Stacey said it was the change in forecast that led to the decision.
She and her husband took jewelry, photo albums, videos, some clothes and their dog, Dixie.
“We’re from here all our lives,” Billy Prince said. “We’ve been through Hugo, Diane, Fran, all of them. We’ve never evacuated. But we’re not going to play around with a Category 4.”
They said they are headed for Florida, possibly Orlando.
“I just feel sorry for people who are new here and don’t have a clue,” Stacy said.
Karly Suggs and Jesse Prince also were packing to leave Wednesday. The couple loaded their large pickup truck and SUV Wednesday from their Light Keepers Village residence. For them, too, it was the new forecast.
“That’s what pushed us away,” Suggs said.
They had thought about going south, but a family member who came from Georgia Tuesday said traffic on Interstate 95 was backed up bumper to bumper. So they plan to head toward Greensboro, North Carolina, stopping along the way to pick up Suggs’ mom and dad in Tabor City.
Suggs said it was difficult deciding what to take.
“Basically anything important, like birth certificates, college degree diplomas,” she said. They placed other items on furniture off the floor in case of flooding.
Nearby, Keith Cooper, who has lived in his Little River neighborhood for a year after moving from Arizona, had decided to stay through the storm though his wife and family had left for Charlotte.
“I’m afraid about getting access back in after it’s all over,” he said. “I have radios, water, batteries. I’m a former Boy Scout.”
Also deciding to stay were Barbara and Gregg Smith.
“At this point we’re staying,” Gregg Smith said. “She wants to ride it out. She has all her kids here, and she wants to be around her grandkids. I’m very concerned. This is not going to be a good one.”
Barbara said the couple stayed in their home during Hurricane Matthew and “were fine,” as was the nearby marina. Hand-held radios and a generator are included in their gear.