NMMA reschedules this week’s event to late October

Hurricane Dorian devastated the Bahamas over the weekend, stalling over the islands as a Category 5 storm for more than 48 hours. But in welcome news for the state of Florida, Dorian – now a Category 3 hurricane – is expected to stay well offshore as it begins a slow move northward later in the day on Tuesday.

Even while the storm battered the Bahamas, and before it was clear that Florida would be spared the brunt of the storm, the marine industry began making plans. The National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), “out of an abundance of caution”, has postponed the Tampa Boat Show and Stokes Marine in Ft Myers, Florida is organising a private relief effort for the islands.

Brent Stokes, owner of construction firm Stokes Marine, is organizsng a fleet of boats and airplanes to deliver supplies he knows from first-hand experience Bahamians will need to begin the recovery process.

Stokes is asking for people willing to use their boats and able to make the 3.5-hour trip each way without having to refuel, according to WBBH-TV.

As for supplies, Stokes – who owns a home in the Bahamas and has vacationed there for years – is putting out a call for tents, tarps, generators, chainsaws, items to help clear out debris and break down drywall to prevent mould in people’s homes. He’s also reaching out for people with skills and manpower who could help get things done.

Stokes Marine and three other local businesses are serving as collection points for donated material, and an armada will be organised as soon as it is safe to travel.

The Tampa Boat Show, originally scheduled for September 6-8, has been moved back to October 25-27.

“While we are disappointed to postpone the event, our main concern is the safety of the boaters, manufacturers and dealers that attend our show,” said Kevin Murphy, show manager, in a statement from NMMA. “This decision was made to ensure attendees and exhibitors have time to adequately prepare for Hurricane Dorian.”