Chances are this big old flybridge cruiser, awash in Miami harbor and surrounded by debris from Hurricane Cleo, didn’t get a lot of offers. Cleo struck in August 1964 after ravaging the Antilles with 155-mph winds and leaving more than 150 dead. As it approached the Miami area, it was downgraded to a tropical storm.
But hurricanes are fickle things; after leaving Cuba behind, Cleo got stronger. When it hit North Miami on Aug. 27, it was a Category 2 storm with winds of more than 100 mph and gusts as high as 135 mph. Barometric pressure plunged to 28.57 inches, rain (more than 9 inches in some areas) came down in wind-blown sheets, and a 6-foot storm surge swept unchecked into scores of marinas lining the coast.
All hell broke loose. Docks were pummeled, and boats were ripped from their moorings, swamped and swept ashore en masse in a 20- to 35-mile-wide strip from Miami northward.
The Sebastian River Baptist Church had its roof torn off. The Fort Lauderdale News missed publishing for the first and only time in its history. Storyland, a children’s theme park in Pompano Beach, was destroyed and never rebuilt.
The storm moved up the Georgia coast and into the Carolinas, spawning tornadoes as it went. Cleo caused more than $130 million in damage and left hundreds of boats like the one above in its wake. Barely two weeks later, on Sept. 10, Hurricane Dora hit the Jacksonville area, causing $200 million in damage. By the end of hurricane season the Sunshine State had endured four (including Hilda and Isbell) named storms.
This article originally appeared in the October 2015 issue.