Severe surf, wind along S. Florida beaches

Sandy takes its toll on beachside businesses

HAULOVER BEACH, Fla. - It was a wet and windy Thursday across South Florida courtesy of Hurricane Sandy.

On South Beach, the wind whipped the palm trees and kept tourists at bay. Lifeguards looked lonely and a run on the boardwalk was a challenge. But those who ventured out, had the beach nearly to themselves.

Up at Haulover Beach, the wind was so strong it shredded the double red flags that let beachgoers know the beach is closed to swimmers. But the rough conditions didn't stop the rare breed South Florida surfer from getting in the water.

"It's about head high out there," said Cary Arak. "It is pretty rough though, pretty drifty. The current is pulling pretty hard to the south there."

Bal Harbor Police looked out for the safety of the surfers eyed the sloppy sets of waves crashing on shore.

"It is good we finally got some waves," said Anthony Dellicarpini. It has been pretty flat all summer."

Luckily a surf board acts as a good flotation device, but today you definitely needed a leash so you didn't lose your board.

"It is big. I mean, I would not swim, but I have been doing this for a long time so it is not scary anymore," Dellicarpini said.

The wind was so fierce and waves so formidable, that charter fishing row at Bill Bird Marina in Haulover Park looked like a ghost fleet Thursday.

"Actually we had a charter yesterday and most of the people didn't show up so we had to switch from offshore fishing to inshore because we couldn't even venture offshore," said Capt. Rafael Maines of Sea Cross Charters.   

But worsening conditions prevented fishing captains from reeling in any more customers.

"It is really, really rough," Maines said. "It is blowing out of the northeast right now and it is about 8 to 10-foot seas out there. it is not a nice pleasant day to fish today."

Local 10's Todd Tongen spotted a few mechanics using the down time to work on a diesel engine, but the wind-whipped big wave weather is bad for business. 

"It is very, very difficult for us when you get or are waiting for that booking," Maines said. "Then you finally get the booking and you wait two weeks to go out fishing and the day of the charter the weather kicks up and you can't go. It takes a big toll on our business."

But the day wasn't a total waste for everyone.

"Every day is a good day fishing," said Gary Pflueger, who was fishing off the jetty.

Pfluegler wassn't letting the weather get in the way of wetting a line. He and a few other South Florida fishermen dropped anchor on the jetty and stayed on dry land.

Meanwhile, South Floridians are not the only ones taking Sandy seriously. Good Morning America's weekend meteorologist Ginger Zee showed up at the beach. The self described weather nerd says she is fascinated but also fearful of Sandy's path.

"The fear is that the super storm happens again," Zee said. "If it becomes the storm of the century, that is my biggest fear humanly. Meteorologically, I am fascinated."

PHOTOS: Sandy's stormy weather Vol. I

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