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Deadline Set for Boaters to Remove Gear from Hurricane Hole

Dec. 19, 2007 — Boaters have until Jan. 7 to remove their hurricane gear — including anchors, chain, ropes, buoys and sandscrews — from Hurricane Hole in V.I. Coral Reef National Monument, Superintendent Mark Hardgrove said in a news release issued Wednesday.
The original removal date was Dec. 10, but delays in issuing the news release advising boaters of the deadline forced the park to extend it, said Rafe Boulon, the park's chief of resources management.
Boaters with berths along the storm chain must reattach the marker buoy to the chain or return it to the park if it was removed from the chain.
If the hurricane gear is not removed by Jan. 7, the park will confiscate it, Boulon said. He thanked the boaters who have already removed their hurricane gear, and to boaters who put down gear during hurricane season, for their efforts in protecting the natural environment.
During this year's hurricane season, 112 boaters signed up for spots in Hurricane Hole, just a few more than the previous year, Boulon said. The park installed an anchoring chain system.
"Seventy-eight got spots on the chain," he said.
The park began installing the chain in 2005, but extended it in 2007. The park expects to add additional chain in 2009, Boulon said.
There were no problems in using Hurricane Hole, he said. However, the June sign-up session posed some issues. The park planned to sign up boaters on a first-come, first-served method that had worked well in previous years.
But boaters who hoped to get prime spots on the chain decided that lining up early on registration day wasn't sufficient, so they tried to camp out a day and a half in advance, Boulon said. They first set up at the Caneel Bay Apartments, located across from the registration site at the park's maintenance site next to Mongoose Junction shopping center.
Caneel Bay Apartments wouldn't allow the use of their property, Mongoose Junction shopping center wouldn't let them camp in its parking lot and they couldn't stay overnight in the park's maintenance parking lot, Boulon said.
Since it was pouring rain, he decided on a sign-up sheet, which upset many boaters who were not early birds.
"It wasn't our fault, but we had to resolve it," Boulon said.
To prevent problems during the 2008 sign-up session, Boulon plans to meet with representatives from various boating groups early in the new year to work out a system amicable to everyone.
The 2008 registration will be held as usual on the first Saturday in June.
For more information on Hurricane Hole, or if you require additional time to remove your gear, call Boulon at 340-693-8950, ext. 224.
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