PORTLAND – Cameron McLellan moved the patio furniture off his dock at DiMillo’s Marina on Thursday morning and secured it to a net on his 63-foot catamaran.

As workers loosened the bolts holding his dock to the marina, McLellan stowed the lawn mower he uses to cut the patch of grass at the end of his dock. He is sailing to safer waters in The Basin in Phippsburg today.

“Don’t let my grass get too much sea spray,” McLellan said just before the workers moved his dock to a safer place in the marina.

Marinas and boat owners began hauling vessels from the water and securing docks Thursday in preparation for a brush with Hurricane Earl this weekend.

And with the storm moving up the East Coast, events in Maine such as Camden’s Windjammer Festival and some high school sports were rescheduled as a precaution.

Portland Yacht Services, at the mouth of the Fore River, planned to haul out about 100 boats in anticipation of the storm. Phineas Sprague, president of the marina, ordered the emergency haul-out Wednesday.

“The issue isn’t the hurricane, but the associated wind out of the northeast,” Sprague said. “Our marina is not set up well to protect the boats in northeast winds. It’s an unfortunate wind direction of significant velocity. The alternative (to taking boats out) would be a disaster.”

DiMillo’s Marina advised its customers to take their boats out of the water or go to a “hurricane hole,” such as Quahog Bay in Harpswell, an area that’s protected from the surf and swells that storms can generate.

About 25 boat owners at DiMillo’s decided to pull their boats out. The marina is not accepting transients.

“If the storm stays what it is right now, it won’t be a big deal for us,” Chris DiMillo, an owner of the marina, said Thursday. “But you never know what is going to happen. You don’t know which way it will shift or what the wind speeds will be.”

South Port Marine in South Portland, widely considered one of the most protected marinas in the Portland area, planned to haul about 30 boats from the water.

Handy Boat Service in Falmouth, one of the least protected marinas, decided not to haul any boats.

Jay Hallett, general manager of the marina, predicted the storm will pass 130 miles east of the marina, so quickly that the seas won’t have time to build up and damage boats or marinas.

“We’re really too far from the center of the storm for it to affect us,” he said.

The National Weather Service in Gray issued a tropical storm watch early Thursday.

Mike Cempa, a meteorologist for the weather service, said Mainers can expect wind gusts reaching 30 mph tonight into early Saturday.

“If the storm stays on its current track, it could nearly miss the area,” he said. “It’s going to go too far east to bring us true tropical storm effects. There is still some chance that it will move west and produce stronger winds. We don’t want people to think it’s safe just yet.”

Organizers of the Camden Windjammer Festival decided Wednesday to cancel today’s events and delay the start of the festival until 4 p.m. Saturday. The festival will last until 9 p.m. Sunday.

“The last thing we want to do, as a community, is throw a party that will bring thousands of people here when there is a risk of a hurricane moving through the area,” said Dan Bookham, executive director of the Camden Rockport Lincolnville Chamber of Commerce. “We thought we would err on the side of caution.”

Anticipating Hurricane Earl’s possible effects, some Maine high schools moved season-opening football games from Saturday afternoon to today. Thornton Academy and Cheverus High School moved their home football games to 1 p.m. today, while a few games scheduled for 7 tonight will start one hour earlier.

Central Maine Power Co. has increased its work force in preparation for possible power outages early Saturday. It also has arranged to hire contractors to provide line and tree crews.

The York County Emergency Management Agency is advising people to pay attention to weather forecasts and plan for evacuations and power outages.

Staff Writer Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at:

[email protected]

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