Two Boaters Die at Dinner Key Marina
Hurricane Katrina's sudden, unexpected turn resulted in at least two deaths as it caught residents of a houseboat community by surprise. Officials fear more deaths.
BY JACK DOLAN
- Miami Herald (Sat. Aug. 27/05) ~ firstname.lastname@example.org
Herald staff writer Mike Vasquez contributed to this report.
Boaters riding out Katrina at the free anchorage just off of Dinner Key Marina on Thursday believed they were in for a rough night on the fringes of a far-off hurricane.
But just after dark, the wind turned from strong to vicious, and lightning
exploded over the bay.
Hurricane Katrina had made its sudden, unexpected turn and was bearing straight down on the small community of ramshackle boats.
At least two people died in the desperate hours that followed, police say.
Curtis L. Howse ("Bud"), 67
John Nye (''Go John''), 61
Search teams brought one body to shore just after noon on Friday morning. They discovered the other in a submerged houseboat around 2 p.m.
The two were among three confirmed deaths related to Katrina in Miami-Dade County. The third victim was an elderly Miami woman who died after a power outage shut off her ventilator. At least four were dead in Broward.
''Quite a few house boats turned over,'' said Miami Police Chief John Timoney.
``I wouldn't be surprised if we find a few more bodies.''
Dive teams, which were hampered on Friday by violent squalls blowing in behind Katrina, will likely be searching long into today, Timoney said.
Officials have not formally identified either of the bodies, but their friends knew them well.
''Bud's dead,'' said 62-year-old former shrimp fisherman Chuck Davis, who said he saw his friend ''face down'' on the deck
of his boat Friday morning.
Like many of the men
who live rent-free on weather-beaten old boats in the anchorage, Bud had no other home, and rarely used his full name.
But Davis identified him as Curtis L. Howse, 67, a former shrimp fisherman and Vietnam
veteran who had lived on his boat for decades.
Davis said he barely escaped with his own life.
Just after dark, he said, another boat tore loose and crashed into his, sheering his cabin
from the hull
and sending it overboard
with him inside.
Davis said he half-swam, half-drifted to one of the small barrier islands just off the marina, where he spent the night hunkered behind a tree.
Also missing and feared dead: John ''Go John'' Nye, 61.
He told his friend Fred Grothe that he thought the storm would be ''a piece of cake'' and that he wouldn't even need to take down the sunshade on his deck
But when dawn broke on Friday, Nye's two-story house boat had broken away from its anchor
, drifted to the other side of the island and flipped upside down, Grothe said.
There was no sign of Nye or the three dogs
that lived on the boat with him.
Early on Friday, Grothe said a search diver told him that he'd viewed the outside of Nye's boat from beneath the surface, and that it didn't look like there were any air pockets inside the mangled cabin
Later in the day, Grothe said that a Miami police officer who knew Nye confirmed for him that the second body discovered was Nye's.
''God, it hurts,'' Grothe said. ``He was like family
While deadly winds assaulted the boats outside the barrier islands in Biscayne Bay, more than 20 boats moored inside broke free and were tossed onto the rocks between Dinner Key and the Coconut Grove Sailing Club.
''It tore my heart out when I saw,'' said Richard Lemire, standing in the cockpit
of the double-masted, 37-foot sailboat he restored five years ago.
The boat was impaled on sharp rocks in the northwest corner of the marina, with seven other damaged boats strewn around and on top of each other.
In that pile was a 34-foot sloop
named ``This is the Life.''
Jeff Marquis, who endured the storm on his 25-foot shrimp boat, said he was shocked at the hurricane's intensity.
''There were hundred-knot winds, easy,'' he said. ``This was life and death, man.''
Marquis, who rode
out the storm tied to Pier 9 on the southern edge of Dinner Key, said several of the wrecked sailboats bounced off the bow of his boat before crashing ashore.
''There's nothing you can do,'' Marquis said. ``The wind and waves are relentless, they don't stop.''
The highest officially recorded wind speed in the area was 97 m.p.h across the bay on Virginia Key, with sustained winds of 73 m.p.h.
Stephen Bogner, Miami's marinas
manager, said the Dinner Key facility overall held up well in the storm.
But, he said, ''it's disheartening'' that Katrina piled up dozens of boats on the barrier islands, the subject of a much-trumpeted cleanup effort earlier this week.
Bogner said the idea of living carefree on a houseboat ``may be romantic from a distance, but when you're sitting on an anchor
at 90 miles per hour, it's not fun.''
Sunday, August 28/05
@6:05 AM CDT (1105Z)
Upgraded to Cat. 5 /w near 160 mph sustained winds
@4:20 AM CDT (0920Z)
Maximum sustained winds have increased to 150 mph (130 Kts), making “Katrina” a very dangerous category 4 storm. Further strengthening is likely with Katrina during the next 12 to 24 hours, and it’s possible that Katrina could reach category 5 status before making landfall along the northern Gulf of Mexico
. Hurricane warnings have now been hoisted from Morgan
City, La., to the Florida-Alabama border. This includes the city of New Orleans and Lake Pontchartrain.
Katrina is a very large storm that will affect a large area - both at the coastal landfall - and well inland, with a trail of flooding rains and damaging winds across Mississippi
, and then into Tennessee.
: In the northwest Pacific, “Talim” has become a typhoon, and is forecast
to grow to a 120 mph typhoon before moving across Taiwan
and into mainland China
in the next 3 to 4 days.