Yacht captain Graham Cavanaugh, 53, told DailyMail.com he was confident he could resist the huge surge generated by Hurricane Irma.
Taking to the water near South Point Park he said: ‘I know the sea. I’ve been going out there 35 years. Conditions are not that great, I’m looking for a clean waves, less whitewater, but I’ll give it a go.
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‘Anything you do in life is calculated but the risk is minimized if you know what you’re doing. At this moment there is the least amount of danger because the beach is clear. Other surfers are more of danger than Mother Nature herself.’
Cavanaugh’s mother Gaytan, 84, his wife Yvonne, 44, and son Dylan, 12, are all taking shelter at a Holiday Inn inland in the city of Dania, 25 miles north.
‘My wife just said have fun. She wouldn’t come to the beach. I’m not worried. It’s going to the West Coast. You will not see me here tomorrow if it’s 70mph winds – I’m not stupid.’
Others donned workout gear to run up and down stairs after the elevators were switched off to avoid the threat of people getting trapped when the power goes.
By early afternoon Saturday residents were still wandering around the ghost-like streets and cycling through the driving rain to take selfies and live Instagram videos despite the looming threat of tropical storm winds.
On West Avenue where luxury condos overlook Biscayne Bay last minute preparations were still underway to tether yachts to private jetties.
Pockets of residents loosely organized themselves into groups to pool resources and appoint first aiders.
A Facebook group, South Beach Locals Staying Home for Irma has 150 members.
Gaetan Mondet and six-months-pregnant wife Carole decided to stay inside their sixth floor apartment overlooking the water.
‘This building is like a bunker. It has been here for more 50 years and survived several major hurricanes. I wouldn’t entrust the safety of my wife and unborn child to some flimsy inland motel,’ said Mondet, 30, a sales director from Bourg-Saint-Maurice in the French Alps.
The couple entertained themselves by organizing a game of monopoly for neighbors in the Mirador North building.
‘We have lots of supplies and a great community here. And most importantly of all, we are six floors up,’ added Carole, 29, who works for an accounting firm.
‘My sister is not thrilled that I have ignored a mandatory evacuation zone. But we have to do what we feel is safest.’