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Waterfront museums 'battening down hatches,' but hopeful Hurricane Florence will keep heading south

Waterfront museums in Maryland have been preparing for the worst, but now that Hurricane Florence seems to be heading south, officials are breathing a little easier.

“We outlined a plan yesterday, but we’ve suspended it for right now, until we see exactly what Florence does,” said Alice Estrada, executive director of the Annapolis Maritime Museum.

“We’ve canceled a few programs just to be sure, but we’re not doing anything special,” said Traci Cimini, spokeswoman for the Calvert Marine Museum in Solomons. Florence “has twisted a different way,” she explained. “We’ve got positive thinking down here.”

At the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michael’s, Talbot County, officials have been “battening down the hatches,” said Tracey Johns, vice president of communications. That includes moving its fleet of historic boats to St. Michael’s Harbor, “where it will be more protected from any winds,” she said.

The queen of the museum’s fleet, the 1889 bugeye Edna E. Lockwood, a National Historic Landmark, is out of the water and on its marine railway “where she’s safest,” Johns said. In fact, it’s been out of the water for two years, having its log bottom rebuilt. It’s scheduled to go back in the water during the museum’s OysterFest in October.

None of the museums have any plans to suspend operations. But all are keeping a close eye on Florence, just in case.

That’s especially true at the Annapolis museum in Eastport, which was essentially destroyed by Hurricane Isabel in 2003. It re-opened five years later, following a $2 million rebuild.

“They rebuilt it to sustain flooding,” Estrada said, noting that the location is “super vulnerable” to rising water levels. “We can take in water and be OK. But a hurricane, with high winds, could be another problem.”

Optimism at the Annapolis museum is running high, however. Although officials had to cancel Saturday’s Boatyard Beach Bash, featuring Jimmy Buffett’s Coral Reefer Band, the improved forecast has convinced them to throw a Hurricane Party, with members of the band who are able to make it. The party is scheduled for 6 p.m., with tickets available at for $35.

Naturally, “our signature cocktail will be a Hurricane,” Estrada said.

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