Usually, this time of year, the Ship Ashore Marina boat yard is a dusty expanse that curves along a few hundred feet of Sag Harbor Cove. While boats tend to come in and out of the water at regular intervals, they’re either stored in a massive shed on the property or tied up to the dock near the shallow shore.
Hurricane Irene has changed all that.
“They’re packed like sardines!” one boat-owner exclaimed as he walked through the yard.
According Gayle Pickering, whose husband Rick owns Ship Ashore Marina, boat crews worked at a pace of about one boat every 20 minutes ultimately managing to pull precisely 60 boats to land on Thursday, bringing the total of land-bound vessels to roughly 250. (The marina has five to six full-time employees, in addition to another four people—including the Pickerings’ teenage son, Adrian—who have been helping the crew for the last couple of days.)
Walking past a veritable peninsula of ground boats propped up by steel holdings and wooden pilings, Pickering explained that the row of boats stretched back five, in some cases six rows. “A lot of the boats in the back came out of the water on Wednesday,” she said, referencing two navy-blue Hinckley Picnic boats. Those the types of boats with insurance policies that mandate mariners to pull them ashore at the first hint of a storm like Irene, Pickering explained.
While some boats were picked up by boat owners who will store the vessels elsewhere, “some people won’t take their boats out of the water,” she added with a shrug. As for sailboats, Pickering said those will have to ride the storm immersed in waves because “we simply didn’t have the staff to take down the sailboat masts in time.”