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How Sewaren Fared During Irene

The Sewaren Marina made it through the hurricane in surprisingly good shape.

With hurricanes, it's easy to get caught up in the hype and hyperbole of the storm. 

Sewaren is the one place in the township that has a waterfront exposure. Homeowners over the decades have been buffeted by hurricanes and nor'easters, some of which have caused major damage to Sewaren homes and property.

Captain Sal Cursi, who owns Cathy Sea Charters, a fishing excursion business in Sewaren, has seen many storms pass through the area over the years.  And while he respects Hurricane Irene and the dangerous weather it brought, he knows enough not to panic.

"It looks like it's going to be intense, but all hurricanes go counterclockwise," said Cursi, who operates Cathy Sea Charters on the Sewaren waterfront.  "The brunt of the storm is coming in from the area in Sewaren that's by public service - from the northeast.  Now, the people that are in Atlantic Highlands have to realize the brunt will come across the bay, whereas here is a different story, we're on the north side of the bay, not the south side.  That makes all the difference in the world."

Boat owners along the water in Sewaren secured their vessels as best they could.  For Cursi, that meant actually leaving his boat in the water.

"The pilings are the main thing," said Cursi.  "The dock itself floats - it's attached with poles, so it slides up and down.  If the tide gets too high, the floating dock will come all the way up.  If you boat is tied off to that, it can pull the boat under - so you only tie it to the pilings with extra spring lines - secure, but not taught.  The most secure thing there is the piling - quadruple the lines up with a little slack and untie it from the dock."

Others pulled their boats from the water entirely and put them on chops, pieces of wood that wedge under either side of the boat to keep it upright on land. It's not a practice Cursi endorses.  "If you pull it out with the crane and leave them in the parking lot, everything's too close together.  [A large storm surge] will float your boat right off the chops and they'll be bouncing off each other."

The tides will also play a major role in how the Sewaren waterfront was hammered by Irene, Cursi said.  Because of the full moon, high tides will be higher and low tides lower than usual.

"It's very iffy, every six hours is a tide change," said Cursi before the storm. "If it stalls and comes in at 8 o'clock, then we're in trouble.  We're not in as much trouble as those on the south side of the bay - Sandy Hook proper, Monmouth Beach - coming right across the bay and shoving all the water right in there.  I would expect it to come up into the bulkhead if it hits at low time - if (Hurricane Irene) slows down getting to us, then we're going to have a problem."

In his years on the water along the Jersey coast, Cursi has seen many storms, which likely contributes to his demeanor with respect to Irene - a calmness in the face of the storm.

"I've got over 40 years experience.  That's why I'm not panicking, I know what to do," said Cursi.  "Don't get me wrong, I'll park up on the hill and I'll be here.  But I will not let my boat get damaged."

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