So You Want To Live On A Sailboat
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So You Want To Live On A Sailboat

The states of Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and even Texas are in the tropics where people long to live on the water and enjoy the same season of summer all year long. Well it is at least warmer there than everywhere that is not in the tropics.

But in those states along with all that joy of the warmth comes hurricane season from June 1st to the end of November. Every summer the tropics get six long months of "What might happen today?" Most of those months are worry free. The terror usually comes late in August and definitely September, then some of October, and if you can get through that time you are usually okay.

There has been an occasional hurricane in March but those are freak occurrences.

So, here we are in hurricane season again. We were having a nice mild season without any storms, and then all hell broke loose. Well, if you can call good hanging around in weather of 97 degrees with a heat index of 112. We cannot figure out why they don't just say it is 112 degrees but they simply refuse.

Okay it is cooler now since the hurricane is passing by. This one has actually not been upgraded to a hurricane yet. We will still have the same kinds of problems from a tropical storm.

Of course we have the problem of the strong winds picking up small items like a pencil, or anything lying around that is not tied down, and turning it into a missile of death. Then we have the flooding on the roadways. Property on the water can have the water come right into the home or establishment. I remember people on Marco Island sweeping the water right back out of their home as it came rushing in if they lived on the water and had a seawall. This rising water is called the storm surge and it can be as large as twelve feet or more. And this storm surge can come very quickly under certain conditions. Unless people live around this weather they usually have no understanding of the events of a hurricane.

First of all to be a hurricane the wind has to get up to 75 miles per hour. Then it is deemed a category 1 hurricane, which is not smart to go up against because you will lose. Until then the storm is called a Tropical Storm. After the wind gets up to 96 mph, it has then become a category 2 hurricane, something unbelievable to be around. And when the wind passes 111 it is a category 3 hurricane. A category 3 hurricane is also something to run away from. If the wind should happen to get up to 131 it is a category 4 and that is the height of destruction on land and in the air. If you are unfortunate enough for the wind to get up to 156 mph then you have a category 5 hurricane which you never want to be anywhere near. It does unbelievably, devastating damage.

This storm we are enduring tonight is still a tropical storm and should be the same when it passes us. When it gets back out past the Florida Keys and is over water, because the water in the tropics is so warm, it then becomes stronger and is supposed to be a Cat 1 or 2 when it hits somewhere between Mobile, Alabama and west of New Orleans.

Good morning, today is day two for us in southern Florida and we will be attending the rising water, or storm surge, today along with another day of rain with lower winds up to 50 mph as the storm's surrounding bands travel on through the area.

There have been many power outages in all places from the storm. Florida Power and Light is reporting over 48,000 power outages on this second day of tropical storm Isaac and that is with FPL. We also have LCEC here which is Lee County Electric Co-op. LCEC is always a better responder and they have fewer outages, which makes it much better for us to have LCEC.

Certainly Isaac is a bigger storm than most and it is not developing as quickly as most of them do. This means that it is still with higher pressure, around 994 mb. Higher pressure means it is not forming a definite center, or eye, to become a hurricane yet. However, now that it is traveling out over the warmer water of the Gulf without any more land in its path to break it down, it now has the chance to develop.

They are saying it will become a cat 1 or even a cat 2 by the time it hits land. This is much better than a higher category which some would become out over this much water.

Isaac is very large and slow developing which is not as bad for the receivers of this storm in the way of high winds but as a large storm traveling this slowly the rain is the devastation. Getting up to a foot and a half of rain in this short of time is a very bad problem. The rain draining systems for most of these low lying areas cannot handle this amount and it backs up on the streets. In most places like islands there water table is around 1 foot below the surface so saturation is quick.

Schools are closed today and maybe tomorrow. Fed Ex is even closed today. The main roads are the safest roads to travel but rain can be nasty to handle even on freeways.

Here in Florida as of recently, state road is now implementing a new kind of pavement to deal with wet roads. We have it on the Interstates and it is amazing to drive in the rain. The roads do not get wet. You can see by the side of the road that it is wet, but the road you are driving on is still dry. This is even in the torrential downpours we get here.

This takes away a great amount of the problems of driving in the rain. The hazard of hydroplaning is gone along with the water poured onto your windshield as something as large as a semi passes. Such a blessing this is to people who spend their time on the road.

Everything I have described to you so far has to do with living in a house. I live on a sailboat which makes the event much worse.

First of all during a hurricane you are not allowed by law to be on your boat.

Secondly, your boat insurance, which you paid dearly for, will not cover your boat unless you are paid up before the event happens.

Thirdly, you cannot usually leave your home, your sailboat, in your slip if you live at a yacht club. You must put your boat somewhere, not in the water, to insure its safety. It is called "on the hard". The marina has a boat lift to take your boat out of the water (usually costs at least $500.00) and they put stands underneath of it on all sides to balance it. If you have never seen this, it is truly hard to imagine.

The keel of the boat which extends around 4 to 5 feet below the boat is propped up on a block and then the stands are placed around it before the boat lift straps are removed from the boat to make certain the boat is properly supported. I have actually slept on our boat while it is on the hard. Some marinas will let you do this. You can even plug in to electric and cook and have air conditioning while on the hard. It is strange to not have that floating feeling underneath your feet from being in the water.

This is the main complaint I have about living on land. I am extremely spoiled by sleeping on the boat. I love the floating feeling of the boat when I am sleeping as well as just being on the boat. I compare it to being in the placenta again. Maybe it is a psychological thing but I will have to get a water bed when I move off the boat, which will happen when I am too old or out of shape to do all the work.

There is an extraordinary amount of work that is involved in sailing as well as living on the boat during times like this. I am used to it. I am capable of doing it now but eventually I will think it is just too much. There comes a time when it becomes work and when that happens you know that you are done living on a boat.

Fourthly, there is a great amount of work to be done to the boat other than normal to leave it in the slip or at anchor. You must double all the lines on the slip, and tie up the boom and the sails tightly and securely. You must take all the enclosures like the bimini and the dodger off the boat. The air conditioner must be put inside and the hatches all closed securely, nice and tight. Everything that is not tied down on the outside of the boat must be put inside.

Yesterday is an example of the work as I moved everything I wanted to not lose, if the worst happens, during a hurricane and the boat somehow goes down. I made trips all day up to the cars to take them to safety. By the way it is 1/8 of a mile from the boat up the dock to the cars making the round trip 1/4 of a mile. I estimate that I walked over 3 miles yesterday by making at least 12 trips up the dock to the car.

Now that I have everything in the car, I am going to return and clean the boat with a toothbrush while I have it all off the boat. All the wood is teak and requires a washing in the spring and fall to help keep the mildew down. We run fans to keep the air circulating even with the air conditioning on to keep mildew down on a constant basis. We live on the water so the humidity is 100%. My muffins that I make from scratch mold in 3 days so they have to eaten quickly.

After I have the boat clean I will put only our belongings back on the boat that I want to move again this season. Yes I have been doing this for 9 years now, and I have it down to a science what I want to do. I went through Hurricanes Frances, Jean, Katrina, Rita, Dennis, and Wilma in just my first 2 years on the boat. I figured out how to make this more efficient for the next time.

I spoke with a friend back at the yacht club this morning and she said the stationary dock is under 2 inches of water and it is not high tide yet. So we will wait until tomorrow to go back because we want to be rested to clean and we also do not want to run into any water over a road that we need. Because we live on an island there will be water over the roads today especially at high tide. Tomorrow will be a different day.

Tomorrow we will be ready to do this again in reverse order. We will leave things tied as we are not going to go sailing until hurricane season is over this year and we do not want to tie it all up again. But we will clean it and move some stuff back and get back to life as normal on the boat by the end of the week.

Crock pot meals until we get going again then it is time for some spaghetti and garlic bread or maybe even lasagna. Yes I am quite the cook on the boat and I will be making bran muffins the first day back to give us some quick grab and eat food for now. We eat organic as much as possible and use natural health remedies because it is all you have in other countries or at sea. We also use prevention for our health more than what they use in this country which is fix it way after you get it and the symptoms appear. We will soon be growing a few organic veggies on the boat too. We also live off the grid as much as possible so solar energy is prevalent among sailors and their boats. And life is then back to normal sailboat life.


Street Talk

Great article Kaite!

Reply
  about 1 decade ago

Thanks Lacey and thanks for commenting

Reply
  about 1 decade ago

Very informative article, thanks for sharing!

Reply
  about 1 decade ago

thanks Shawn

Reply
  about 1 decade ago

I love to sail but I think hurricane winds might just be too much for me...

Reply
  about 1 decade ago

I agree Rob... I have heard many of the frightening stories from sailors who are involved in storms at sea not even hurricanes and that is something I never want to go through personally either. Hurricanes are something not to tangle with and I have definitely seen enough of them by now. Enough is enough.....

Reply
  about 1 decade ago
Joan S  

Thank you Kaite, for the fascinating account of living on a sailboat in the tropics. Do you also have a house to run to to keep safe and out of the hurricanes? Hope Isaac doesn't cause too much damage for you guys living near the Gulf. If they weren't so destructive, hurricanes would almost be fun. But flooding is not fun, nor is having one's home destroyed fun. We used to have them regularly up here in CT. It's calmed down a little in recent years. Hope the storm passes, and you can enjoy being rocked to sleep on the water, once more. Garlic bread and lasagna? I'm coming.

Reply
  about 1 decade ago

Thanks Joan, I have been so busy with all of this. I am trying to get back to writing now...well a few things to finish up with the boat...I am taking care of a sick friend today but soon...we really do live by the weather..mostly radar...knowing the wind etc the tides, the moon.....all good stuff though..If you get to Florida you are welcome for dinner...

Reply
  about 1 decade ago
C. Hughes  

Makes you rethink your decision to live aboard eh?There is an old Chinese curse that goes"may you live in interesting times". I think living aboard a boat during a hurricane qualifies. It has always been a dream of mine to have a live aboard. Unfortunately, boats and dogs don't really co-exist very well. Since dogs are my passion and life, that dream has been put on hold. I can relate to your experience though. I'm glad you have weathered the storm.

Reply
  about 1 decade ago

Thank you very much C Hughes...I am very used to it by now and thought that maybe others would like to know since right now it is so current and still ongoing for the panhandle. Unless you are breeding your dogs or they are big, you too can live on a sailboat or a boat. It all depends on how big your boat is if you get a power boat type. Of course you cannot get a big dog down the companionway in a sailboat unless you carry it...We are also big dog people so right now we have no dogs but when we move to land we will have at least 3 big dogs if not more....There are some really great boats for sale down here where we live right now as I am sure there are everywhere in this economy. Now is the time to buy anything, right? thanks for commenting

Reply
  about 1 decade ago
C. Hughes  

Well, I'm a Labman so my 3 would need a place. One would probably do OK since she has already been trained on ladders. The other two might be a problem. I have a penchant for those Ragtops. Stinkpots aren't' my cup o' tea. Nice Tri BTW.

  
  about 1 decade ago
Golfspice  

Great read and insights into living with hurricanes Sister Kaite. Thankfully, we get few hurricanes in the UK, but then again we do not get months of glorious sunshine either. You mention "roads that do get wet" - these will be roads constructed with porous materials to allow water to pass through as well as drain to the sides, which are very effective at preventing spray and standing water.

Reply
  about 1 decade ago

These new roads are certainly amazing to me and I wish they had them everywhere already...i would think it would help immensely up north where it snows...like Michigan and Minnesota, the Dakotas, Nebraska....all of the northern states and Canada of course....I enjoy the UK myself as a vacation.....but I am not a fearless flyer....it is 8 hours of hell for me to get there. I was there in the 90's...thanks for the info on the pavement...and the nice words

Reply
  about 1 decade ago
Golfspice  

Apologies for the mistake in my earlier comment. It should of course read "roads that do not get wet" - Unfortunately, permeable road surfaces have tended to be more expensive to construct, so not widely used. Careful design, installation and maintenance are key factors in the success and longevity of porous pavements.

  
  about 1 decade ago
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