As winds began to pick up this afternoon and sprinkles started to fall, people in Morehead City screwed down hurricane shutters, secured boats and stored outdoor furniture as Hurricane Earl approached from the south.
Lifelong buddies Lewis Piner and Danny Meyers dragged Meyers' catamaran from near the water's edge and moved it 20 yards into the weeds, tying it to a post. They put the mast into the back of a pickup.
Meyers, 53, spent the morning surfing and didn't seem too concerned about the ability of the Crystal Coast to withstand Earl.
"I have a feeling it is going to bump out and go a little east of here," he said. But with winds expected to reach 50 to 60 mph, they didn't want to risk losing the boat.
Others sailors seemed more confident. As the men secured Meyers' boat, several small sailboats were still in the water, with an additional handful on land near the water's edge, lined up next to a row of kayaks.
After they were happy with the boat's location, the men moved to Piner's trailer, about three miles from the water. Piner, who is also 53 and lives in Wendell while keeping the trailer in Morehead City, had fashioned wooden supports to screw into the trailer's awning, and then into the deck.
Meyers teased him about the homemade solution, but Piner seemed confident the wooden poles would keep his awnings secure. Piner planned to ride out the storm at his mom's house in Morehead City, while she traveled back to Wendell to stay in his home. His trailer is surrounded by tall pines, and he worried about falling limbs.
By early afternoon, Piner had gassed up his car, and purchased enough food, water and ice to last a few days if the power went out. All he had left to do was fill up his mother's bathtub with water. If the power is interrupted and water can't be pumped into the water towers, he'll use the bathtub water to flush the toilet.
"I hope I don't have to use it," he said.