HOW TO SAVE YOUR MARINE MATTRESS IN A HUMID ENVIRONMENT

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The humidity in Florida in the winter is odd. In the summer, any moisture in the boat dissipates pretty quickly, likely because the air conditioners are running at full-blast, 24 hours a day. In the winter, however, the moisture in the bathroom after you shower, for example, can linger for hours or even days. We hadn’t been vigilant about this and we started seeing mold on the teak inside the shower. After cleaning that, we realized that hanging damp towels in there was the problem. Now, one of Mason’s chores is to take all the towels outside each night, and hang them on the lifelines. We have a couple dozen clothespins on board just for this.

That worked! The mold problem disappeared.

Last month, however, we pulled the v-berth cushions out to have them measured for replacement. That’s when we discovered they were damp on the bottom. Those cushions have rubber bottoms so we were able to clean them with bleach. Mason’s mattress was the same way. However, our mattress, which came with the boat, is a traditional memory foam one. When we checked it, we found it was wet on the bottom, and had mold. We had to get rid of it.

While we waited for a new one to be delivered, we slept on an air mattress. That was NOT a comfortable experience and we had to keep Rambo the cat out of our room. If you’ve ever owned a cat with claws AND an air mattress, you know why.

It took a week for the mattress to arrive and, in that time, we took a trip to West Marine. With the calculations for the size of the mattress, we purchased enough Dri-Dek to fit the bed area. When the new mattress arrived, Capt. Brian pieced the Dri-Dek puzzle together, which only took a few minutes. We then placed the new mattress in its place. A week later, we checked underneath and it was as dry as a bone.

We will also be purchasing Dri-Dek for the boys’ mattress, and the settee cushions.

Another good use for Dri-Dek is in high traffic areas on your deck. While the boys scrub the deck weekly with a long-handled brush and Comet, there was still a noticeable difference in “dirtiness” on the starboard side, where everybody boards the boat. Capt. Brian pieced together a Dri-Dek walkway along the starboard deck, from the finger dock to the cockpit. Footprint problem solved!

NEXT: OUR FIRST BIG SAILING TRIP GETS BLOWN AWAY. LITERALLY…

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Angela Hoy is a publisher, a blogger, and the author of 19 books. She lived on dirt her entire life before her family gave away almost everything they owned, and moved onto a 52-foot Irwin Center Cockpit Ketch. They all live, work, and play on board full-time.

Angela is the publisher of WritersWeekly.com, a free source of paying markets for freelance writers and photographers. If you want to write for magazines, websites, businesses, or others, check it out. It’s free! Her publishing services company, BookLocker.com, has published more than 9,000 books over the past 18 years. If you want to publish a book, she’d love to hear from you! Abuzz Press is BookLocker’s hybrid publishing company. And, PubPreppers.com offers services to authors who are having their books published elsewhere.

STRAY CAT STUCK IN THE BILGE!

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After our plumber’s horrible seizure onboard No Tan Lines last week, we all made a pact that the following day would be a boring one – one devoid of any drama whatsoever. But, alas, that was not to be…probably because we forgot to KNOCK ON TEAK!

The next morning, Capt. Brian Whiddon called me from his boat, saying he’d be late for work. He works for our publishing company and he is NEVER late for work. What happened? Well, let me start at the beginning…

Exactly one week prior, Brian said he was hearing a “bell” on his boat. One night, he even texted us to ask if our cat, Rambo, may have followed him home, which is literally just a few feet down the dock from the floating “home office.” But, he had not. Rambo was comfortably curled up in our salon so, of course, we told Brian he was NUTS. He was babysitting Pookie at the time (his brother’s dog). He said Pookie heard the bell, too. So, laughing, we told him he AND Pookie were nuts.

Brian knew he wasn’t crazy because Pookie heard the bell, too.

Fast forward a week to Brian’s phone call. He said, “I was right! There IS a cat on my boat!! I can hear it meowing!!!”

As with a house, if a live critter is loose under your floor, and if you can’t access that area, you might have to cut into the floor to rescue the little furball. And, that’s what Brian was going to have to do so Richard raced down the dock to assist. I was still getting dressed and, as soon as I finished, I grabbed one of our bowls, put some cat food in it, and walked down the dock as well.

By the time I arrived at Brian’s boat, the guys had lifted up floor boards everywhere, and had successfully located the cat. Brian had lured it close with some ham but he couldn’t quite get it. I reached in with a piece of ham, and tried to lure kitty cat forward so I could grab his or her scruff. He/she grabbed the ham, and ripped it completely out of my hand. I was quick, too, and grabbed it right back. I held on tighter, and was eventually able to lure it forward, and lift the starving feline out.

Once I got it in my arms, it was clear kitty cat was very sweet and affectionate. Still, we put it in Pookie’s kennel (Pookie was NOT in there at the time!) in case it tried to bolt, and pondered our next move. We took pictures, and came up with a pretty accurate description. Green eyes. Very small. Hot pink collar and fully-functioning pink bell (ha ha). All black with a tiny wisp of white under the throat, and another near the groin. And, speaking of groin…was it a girl or a boy? The hair was so black we couldn’t tell so…I had to feel down there. After apologizing to kitty cat for pawing her (heh…), I said, “No dangly parts! It’s a girl!!”

Now that we had the little kitty out of the bilge, we had to figure out who she belonged to…

We brought her back to No Tan Lines, and transferred her to our cat carrier, gave her cat food and water, and started posting “FOUND” notices online. About 30 minutes later, a friend on our private Dock Facebook page, Diego, said he’d heard a week prior that the crew of the Tall Ship Lynx had lost their cat.

This is a pretty big town and there are LOTS of lost animals, according to Facebook’s lost pets pages. It was a long-shot. It really was. But, I called their office anyway, and left a message. A man in New Hampshire immediately called back, very excited. The missing kitty, Leeloo, belonged to the ship’s captain. We compared descriptions and it sure looked like we had a match! We offered to drive her to the ship, which is docked five minutes from here for the Winter, 2017 season.

The TallShip “Lynx”

The Lynx is a full-sized replica of a topsail schooner that actually served as an American privateer blockade-runner during the War of 1812. The captain was expecting us. He walked down the gangplank as we approached. We exchanged greetings, and opened the cat carrier. He reached in and pulled her out, excitedly saying, “It’s her!” He hugged her tight. And, we knew he was her daddy because she curled right up into his chest. He then held her out in front of him with his hands under her armpits, examining her, and then pulled her back in for another hug, before saying, “You’ve lost a lot of weight!”

That’s when my eyes got all teary. I’m getting teary-eyed again just thinking about it. 🙂

He then told us she’d been missing for 13 days. He proclaimed us honorary sailors on the Lynx.He thanked us profusely, and said we can come sail for free anytime. We, of course, accepted his offer as we’ve been wanting to sail on that beautiful ship for a year now. They do educational excursions and we know Max and Mason would love it!

As we were walking away, we turned back to see the other Lynx crew members coming out to pet Leeloo, and to welcome her home. The captain emailed Brian later with an update, saying Leeloo was doing just fine, and was being spoiled rotten. And, they installed the pet tracking device that had been delivered two days after she went missing.

Here’s the weird thing…

The previous Friday night, we’d gone out to dinner with some dock friends. While some of us went to the bathroom, the rest were standing outside, in front of the restaurant. Two women approached Diego, asking if anyone had seen a black cat. They said the Lynx was missing theirs. Diego remembered that brief encounter when he saw our post on Facebook. Had we not all gone out to dinner that night, we may never have found the owner. And, that was the exact night that Brian started hearing the bell in his boat!

After leaving the Lynx, we returned back to No Tan Lines. Half a day had been spent doing all of that and, combined with the seizure emergency the day before, we were getting more behind on our work. We all once again made a pact. The following day would be soooooo very boring. We would all be completely bored to tears and we would LOVE IT!

SO, WHAT HAPPENED NEXT?!

Chaos seems to follow us wherever we go. The next day, we received an urgent text from our daughter-in-law. Our son, Matt, who was supposed to arrive this weekend for Christmas, severed his Achilles tendon while playing flag football. He and all of us are devastated because he had to cancel his trip. Thirty-six hours later, he had surgery. It was worse than they thought. (How could it possibly be worse? It was severed!!) Turns out the injury was higher than they thought. He’ll have to wear a cast 2 weeks longer than they originally predicted and full recovery can take 6 to 12 months.

We sadly packed up Matt’s Christmas gifts, and shipped them to Maine. He’s doing well after surgery and he is so very happy his new Xbox arrived just before his injury. His brothers here in Florida are able to play with him online. He is an actuary and, as soon as he no longer needs pain meds, he’ll be able to work from home for awhile. We also bought our son, Zach, a plane ticket so he can fly up there next week, and keep Matt company for a couple of days.

The good news is, nothing weird has happened since then (because we remembered to knock on teak!)…and we’re praying it stays that way!

NEXT: DRIVING (NOT SAILING) TO KEY WEST. SIGH…

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Angela Hoy is a publisher, a blogger, and the author of 19 books. She lived on dirt her entire life before her family gave away almost everything they owned, and moved onto a 52-foot Irwin Center Cockpit Ketch. They all live, work, and play on board full-time.

Angela is the publisher of WritersWeekly.com, a free source of paying markets for freelance writers and photographers. If you want to write for magazines, websites, businesses, or others, check it out. It’s free! Her publishing services company, BookLocker.com, has published more than 9,000 books over the past 18 years. If you want to publish a book, she’d love to hear from you! Abuzz Press is BookLocker’s hybrid publishing company. And, PubPreppers.com offers services to authors who are having their books published elsewhere.

Halloween Decorations on “No Tan Lines” and BRRRR!!!

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We’ve been anxiously awaiting our first real cold front while living aboard “No Tan Lines.” (“Tanny” for short.) And, we’ve been blessed with a whopper just before Halloween! It’s almost noon as I’m writing this and it’s sunny and only 64 degrees. The wind is blowing 20 mph so it’s quite crisp outside indeed…for Florida anyway!

Last night, when we were sitting in the cockpit, I realized that every one of my sweaters was in storage. So, I grabbed a blanket. Since nobody in the marina is running their air conditioners right now, we could hear everything…and I mean EVERYTHING our neighbors are saying on their boat. Ahem…. Learning from others’ mistakes, we spent the evening whispering.

At bedtime, Max took his blanket and pillow outside, and fell asleep in the cockpit. We had all our ports and hatches open and it was lovely curled up under the comforter! Rambo (Max’s cat) carouses the neighborhood after dark, and always returns around 2 a.m., crawls in our bed, begs for scratches, and curls up by my head.

When the tide or wind pushes the boat too far from the finger dock, Rambo lies and waits for the boat to get closer so he can jump back onboard.

 

I woke up around 3:00 a.m., and didn’t see Rambo on our bed. I assumed he was out in the cockpit with Max so I wasn’t too worried. Just then, I turned over in bed, and just so happened to open my eyes, glancing through the hatch above our bed. Two glowing eyes were staring back at me! After I sucked in my breath and woke up Richard with a yelp, I realized the eyeball glow belonged to Rambo. He was standing there above me, creepily staring at me as I slept. I pulled out the hatch screen, and pulled him into bed. He begged for scratches, purred really loudly, and then finally fell asleep.

This morning, we woke up freezing but we didn’t mind because it sure feels like Fall!

While it’s quite chilly, I’m glad because this weekend we’re attending our first outdoor Murder Mystery Dinner. My female gangster costume includes a dress, a blazer, and knee-high boots. I was NOT looking forward to wearing a blazer and boots in 88-degree heat!

The boats are “decked” for our favorite holiday of the year – Halloween! Here are some photos:

Our salty, sailing skeletons definitely don’t have any tan lines!
Captain Brian P. Whiddon‘s special friend, Matilda. She looks awesome at night because her eyes and face light up. And, the way he strung her up makes her appear to be flying madly through the strong salty breeze. Small children don’t want to walk past Brian’s boat right now. 😉
If you pass to close to our bow, John John might eat your face.

NEXT: TAKING CLASSES AT THE BOAT SHOW

* * *

Angela Hoy is a publisher, a blogger, and the author of 19 books. She lived on dirt her entire life before her family gave away almost everything they owned, and moved onto a 52-foot Irwin Center Cockpit Ketch. They all live, work, and play on board full-time.

Angela is the publisher of WritersWeekly.com, a free source of paying markets for freelance writers and photographers. If you want to write for magazines, websites, businesses, or others, check it out. It’s free! Her publishing services company, BookLocker.com, has published more than 9,000 books over the past 18 years. If you want to publish a book, she’d love to hear from you! Abuzz Press is BookLocker’s hybrid publishing company. And, PubPreppers.com offers services to authors who are having their books published elsewhere.

HURRICANE IRMA WAS TERRIFYING!

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A couple of weeks ago, we heard about Irma, a monster hurricane brewing in the Atlantic. Since we’ve had a small hurricane, as well as two tropical storms here in the past year, we weren’t too concerned. I mean, statistically speaking, what were the chances we’d get another one this soon? Regardless, we made sure to stock up on water and gasoline early, just in case. And, it’s a good thing we did because, a week later, all the stores here were out of bottled water, as well as any container that you could reasonably store water in.

As the days passed, and as the forecast changed, showing Irma heading up our coast, we became increasingly alarmed.

Which way would Irma go?? It was maddening trying to decide what to do!!

We decided to pack up our personal belongings, secure the boats as best we could, and head to Orlando. BookLocker‘s Operations Manager (and WritersWeekly‘s Managing Editor), Brian, would stay with his mother in her assisted living facility, which is a tall building. He would be safe, and would be able to check on the boats after the storm. We’d planned to leave on Thursday morning. But, come Wednesday morning, everybody else had the same idea. The freeways were gridlocked and people were running out of gas because the stations were empty. Worse, people were dying in car accidents while fleeing a storm that was meandering all over the place! That’s when the forecast changed again. Irma was going to head right up the middle of the state, and hit Orlando.

We cancelled our Orlando hotel reservation, and tried to get into a sturdy hotel here. It appeared all the hotels were full so the boys’ tutor, Cindy, offered to let us bunk in her living room. She’s not in a flood zone. But, then there was a new obstacle. Her daughter is deathly allergic to cats. We have a cat, Rambo. Cindy was in the middle of trying to find a neighbor to keep Rambo when Richard got back online and checked with the Hilton, which is two blocks from the marina. It’s a waterfront hotel. Maybe few people would think that’s a good place for a hurricane evacuation? (We soon found that the Coast Guard had selected this hotel to house several of its Search and Rescue personnel during the storm.) He tried to get rooms at the Hilton but the websites kept saying they were full. Yet, they would then flash available dates and those were the dates we wanted. I had Richard drive up to the Hilton and they did have rooms. He reserved two. We also found out that hurricane rates would apply, thank goodness. And, at the urging of Governor Rick Scott, the pet restrictions had been waived. We were all saved!

Even Coco pitched in with the packing. But, look at her eyebrows. She looks worried. 🙁

The forecast changed again. Irma was going to march up the east coast. Shwew! We kept the hotel reservation just to be safe and we spent one day relaxing before we learned that Irma was coming in our direction once again. So, we reverted right back to panic mode! We briefly considered changing our plans again but it was obvious Irma was following us. We chose to stay put, and to wield our swords for the battle!

We packed up all of our personal items, choosing to leave only the tools and boat supplies in the boat. The fridge and freezer had to be emptied. We bought extra duffel bags for our belongings. We kept filling up water containers. We were running on the assumption that we’d have no boat to come home to, and that our city might be uninhabitable. It was a terrifying thought but we had to keep moving forward, keep busy, and do whatever we could to save whatever we could. I think I slept three hours in four days.

A friend told us that someone could check into the hotel and refuse to leave so we could be without rooms after all. So, Richard drove to the hotel once again to get the rooms two days early. That was a good thing because he had a LOT of stuff to haul there. And, Brian had stuff to haul, too. He decided to stay at the Hilton as well so he could be within walking distance of the boats.

Between our emergency supplies and Capt. Brian’s – we were confident we could hold out for a prolonged period without electricity or drinking water.

On a whim, I called local parking garages. We found two spots and put the “newer” cars in there (my Mustang and Brian’s SUV). We kept the truck with us for hauling things. It’s very old and rusty but still runs like a champ. We figured, if we’re gonna lose one vehicle, that’s the one that needs to go. I doubt it’s worth $400 at this point but we do have it fully insured.

 

 

Two-week old Jack snoozed through the hurricane.

Our daughter and son-in-law have a 10-day-old baby, Jack, and they live in a class A flood zone in Bradenton. They would join us at the hotel, along with his brother and his brother’s girlfriend. Between those two families, there were four dogs and three cats. I have to admit…I was happy I wasn’t staying in THAT room! We have one dog and one cat.

Friday (Max’s birthday!), the day before we were to feel the first effects of the storm, we woke up to a stiff breeze from the east that never eased. Even if we didn’t have radar or The Weather Channel, we’d have known something huge was brewing. And, that was two days before the storm hit. We spent the day furiously making final preparations, and moving things to the hotel. Brian tied and retied lines, trying to gauge the best possible set-up for how we thought the storm might pass. Max helped other people on the dock get their boats ready. My phone rang constantly. Friends and relatives far and wide were worried about us. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time for phone conversations.

Our plan was to stay in the Hilton that night. Richard drove the boys and pets to the hotel around dinner-time, telling them to order room service for all, and we’d eat it later. We apologized several times to Max about needing to delay his birthday. He was such a good sport about it!

Earlier in the week, Capt. Brian helped us remove our 4 sails, and lash down the booms.

Richard came back to the marina after dropping off the boys. The wind was whipping pretty good! We got the last of our belongings off and then we helped some neighbors who were also trying to evacuate. Earlier in the week, at the suggestion of a friend, Brian had run some “long lines” behind our boat, all the way to the dock behind ours, and sank them. The idea was to pull them up tight just before the storm hit. Late that night, when the weather started getting really bad, we decided it was time. No other boats would possibly attempt to come into, or leave, the marina in those conditions. And, about an hour later, as I was helping our friend, Chris, remove her bimini-top, I saw bright lights and heard shouting. A boat was coming!

I screamed to Brian down the dock. He took off running, waving his arms, telling them to stop. He dropped the lines once again as the crew on that boat kept hollering at us. Our lines never touched their propellers. They’d seen them in the water early enough because they had huge spotlights on their boat. And, why did they have spotlights? Because it was the Coast Guard! Richard talked to them later and they understood what we were doing. They were not upset.

Finally, around midnight, we were able to leave the dock. On the way to the parking lot, I felt something funny under my right sandal. I’ve had a pair of sturdy Teva sandals for 10 years. The sole of the right one was half-way torn off. I reached down and tore it the rest of the way off. A few steps later, I felt the exact same thing on my left foot. I looked and, sure enough, that one was coming off, too. What?! After 10 years, both sandals broke within a minute of each other?

Both of my 10-year-old TEVA sandals broke at the same time!

That’s when I had a sense of foreboding. Here’s why…

Earlier in the day, our battery charging system stopped working. We MUST have battery power to run the bilge pumps. No bilge pump means your boat sinks. The marina was going to cut off power the following day so we HAD to have the batteries. We got the charger working again but it was charging slowly. We were nauseated by that development.

About an hour before we were going to leave the marina, our companionway door (“front door”) broke clean in half. It’s a beautiful teak door. It just…broke! Brian had to hurriedly fix it with a spare piece of wood, drilling it into the back. It was ugly but it worked! Without a “front door” to keep out the estimated 10-15 inches of rain, the boat would sink.

And, then, both sandals of the pair, which I’d had for 10 years, broke within seconds of each other.

Something bad was going to happen. I was even more nauseated with fear than I’d been all week! As we were leaving, we saw the last person on the dock. It was Derek. He has a large motoryacht with a wood hull. It’s pretty old and the hull is a bit soggy. He couldn’t get insurance on it because of the condition of the hull. He’d just bought the boat and hoped to recondition the hull at some point.

After we made sure all our neighbors were as prepared as they could be, and that nobody else needed help, we finally folded our weary bones into the truck, and drove to the hotel. Everybody else was already there. Tempers were short. Everybody was extremely stressed. We had all spent the past week thinking we’d be homeless in a few days, and we all made all the exhausting preparations to prepare for that. We wolfed down our room service burgers and we promptly went to bed. Max didn’t even eat a bite of the birthday cake Richard had miraculously managed to bake on the boat that afternoon during all the hullabaloo.

The next morning, we learned that a local bank’s parking garage had opened up to the public. We moved the truck and the adult kids’ vehicles to that. We ate one last meal at the hotel restaurant before they moved meals to the convention room. We would be eating buffet style for the next few days. The hotel set up a play area for the kids in there, complete with video games and a very large screen, which played animated movies. Most of our marina friends were also at the Hilton so each meal was like a party.

Each buffet meal at the hotel was another opportunity to gather with our dock friends, and support each other.

The hotel left notes under each door with the hurricane rules. Don’t leave when the storm starts to hit (they’d be shutting off the elevators at six the next evening). No more than two drinks per person per night in the bar (excellent rule). Clean up after your pets. They were expecting a storm surge of 5-15 feet and the first and second floors might end up under water. We would probably lose satellite TV service before we lost power and Internet, etc.

On Saturday, we furiously tried to get caught up on some work, knowing we might be without power and Internet for several days…or more.

On Sunday morning, we noticed that the water had been sucked out of Tampa Bay. It’s called a reverse storm surge. Irma sucked so much energy into her belly that she was pulling water from hundreds of miles away. The winds were blowing about 50-60 mph. Brian and some other guys from the marina planned to walk to the marina that afternoon to check on all the boats. Well, heck! I was going to go, too! Richard wasn’t happy with my decision but I’m an adrenaline junky and I was NOT going to miss this! 😉

The guys (and me) planned to meet at the front door of the hotel at 5:00 p.m. That’s when we found out there was a 5:00 curfew in our city so we had to bump it up to 3:00 p.m.

We all had on our rain gear and we walked the two blocks to the marina, dodging flying palm fronds and small branches. The winds were blowing at about 50 mph. Once we arrived, we saw several boats in distress. Some of the smaller sailboats were in the mud because of the low tide. They were at risk of getting stuck under the pier when the tide came back up later. Multiple boats needed line adjustments for various reasons, including the fact that they were rubbing on the docks. I wasn’t much help muscling boats that were stuck in the mud but I was very happy to be the dock photographer! I got some great photos and videos and I posted them online so our dock neighbors who were out of town could see the condition of their boats.

We were out there for about an hour and a half and my phone died during that time. The sideways rain felt like needles and the gusts were so strong that they threatened to knock us down. Several times, we’d brace our feet against a gust and, more than once, I grabbed onto a dock box for support. The sound of the wind in the rigging was deafening and we had to shout at each other to be heard.

IT WAS AWESOME!!!

Saving boats with neighbors.

In this case, Brian (in red), and a neighbor had to muscle a boat out from under a dock piling, and wedge a bumper into the space so that the vessel could rise with the water. Normally these boats float level or just above the dock. The large wooden motor yacht (right) was still afloat, but hitting ground at this point.

Neighbors, Bob and Dean, adjusting lines in the wind and rain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 We made it back to the hotel after an hour and a half and Richard had been frantic with worry because he hadn’t been able to reach me. I reassured him that there were seven of us on the dock and that we were never in danger. Even if one of us had fallen in, someone else would have fished them out. The real danger was all the flying debris but I didn’t mention that to Richard. We hunkered down at the hotel, and prepared for the loss of power and Internet. We felt very safe at the hotel but we still feared being homeless in a matter of hours. That feeling was truly awful.

After dinner (more overcooked chicken, fatty sliced beef, and rice and beans – yea!), we settled down for a movie. It was Sunday night. The storm had just come inland near Venice, and was heading straight up the state. It wasn’t riding the west coast as we’d feared it would. We might just make it! Around 9:00 p.m., all the guys fell asleep. We all had our clothes on. If it got bad, we were to move with our “go bags” (absolutely essential emergency items) to the hallway. If we then felt the pressure change, we were to go to the stairwells. Now, remember, the hotel had actually served beans to a building full of people who might end up sitting shoulder to shoulder in a stairwell together for several hours. Think about that for a minute…

But, it never got really bad – not here in St. Pete anyway. Oh, sure it was blowing and raining like CRAZY! But, I don’t think the winds at the hotel ever exceeded 80 mph. With the guys snoozing contently, exhausted from our ordeal, I stood by the window, watching the fury of Irma, thinking about how terrified we’d been for the past week, how much we’d done as a family and a team with our neighbors over the past week, and how we’d just been talking 36 hours earlier about what city we might relocate to if ours was destroyed. And, looking out at rain sheets that resembled white silk billowing across the black sky, I knew we were all going to be okay. After the eye passed just northeast of us, I was finally able to sigh with relief, and I went to sleep. I kept my clothes on because we were still at risk of tornadoes, or debris breaking a window, but I knew deep down that everything would be okay. A huge storm surge was still possible by that was looking less and less likely.

Unfortunately, our friend Derek’s boat didn’t make it.

Sometime in the middle of the night, two of the guys went back out to the marina and, sadly, discovered that one of the boats had sunk. It was Derek’s. The one with the wood hull. A boat is a part of the family. Boats take on lives of their own. To mariners, they are their partner when battling a raging sea. When a boat is lost, a family member is lost. We all were and still are in mourning over that. They are planning to “float” that boat tomorrow to see if it can be saved. The cost? $30,000, which is more than he paid for the boat.

First light saw us jumping up to look out the window. It was still blowing hard and it was still pouring but it was nothing like it had been the night before. We ate breakfast (a continental breakfast – no rice and beans!) and got the truck out of the parking garage. We left the boys at the hotel, and drove to the marina. There was debris EVERYWHERE! Downed trees, huge tree limbs that has broken away from their hosts, millions of palm fronds (people here won’t need to trim their palm trees for a year or more!), broken street signs, toppled newspaper boxes, and more. At the marina, there were torn sails and, unfortunately, seven sunken boats. Ours was not one of them, and neither was Brian’s. We were devastated for our neighbors.

This boat apparently had its lines too tight in anticipation for tidal surge. When the water dropped instead, it tipped and filled up instead.

Sunken power boat under the covered slips.

Seven boats sank on the south side of the marina. This one was “floated” just two days after the storm. The owner is 90 years old!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our cockpit was full of water but it hadn’t yet spilled down the companionway and into the boat. We manually pumped it out, and learned later it was because we’d closed one of the seacocks that should always remain open (oops). Our neighbor made the same mistake but he did get water inside his boat. We manually pumped his out, too, because he was out of town. People were out and about, surveying the damage. While there is a LOT of clean-up to do, St. Pete survived!

And, oddly enough, we never lost power, nor Internet!

Many of our Florida neighbors were not so lucky and there are a lot of people who did lose their homes, and who have nowhere to go.

I’m writing this on Thursday morning. We moved back onto our boat yesterday but our daughter and son-in-law have remained at the Hilton because their house has no power. Our oldest son and his wife just got power today. Our middle son, Frank, does have power. Last night, some restaurants opened in town and gas stations had gas. The grocery store opened back up again as well so the city is coming back to life. We had Max’s birthday dinner (finally) at Buffalo Wild Wings and he (finally) got to open his birthday presents. 🙂

Tomorrow night, a crew is coming to try to float the large, sunken motoryacht. We’re not sure she can be saved. Tomorrow night we’ll be having a dock party – a “We Survived Irma!” celebration. This marina is, by far, the nicest, most caring and loving neighborhood we’ve ever lived in. We are so blessed that we didn’t lose our neighborhood or neighbors to Irma. Everybody pitched in to help everyone else. If it wasn’t such a tight-knit community, I’m sure even more boats would have been lost, and more neighbors would have been displaced.

Today, we are counting our blessings and trying to physically and emotionally recover from what we’ve been through over the past week and a half. I’ve been waking up with hurricane nightmares several times a night, which is odd because I felt like I’d handled it all pretty well, under the circumstances. Other friends are admitting having anxiety, lost sleep, nightmares and more after what they’ve been through. The boys, Max and Mason, came through essentially unscathed. We kept things light-hearted (when we could) during the ordeal, and repeatedly assured them that things would eventually be just fine. As long as we have each other, none of the material things matter. While we don’t need to relocate and rebuild from this storm, the time might just come when we must do so. And, I believe, after this experience, that we will be far better equipped to handle such a tragedy.

POSTSCRIPT: While the Hilton was great to us during the storm, they weren’t so great to us today. We had arranged with the front desk to allow our daughter (who’s recovering from surgery), her husband, and our 2-week-old grand-baby to stay there “as long as they needed” due to their situation. All of the sudden, this morning, the Hilton said they were overbooked and that Ali and the baby needed to be out by 1:00. Remember, they’d said she could stay and they have our credit card, and having been charging it daily.

OH, Hell NO! Mama Bear (Grandma Bear?) stepped in. I immediately drove to the hotel, and demanded to see the manager. I sternly explained to him what had occurred, and that our daughter was not only recovering from major surgery, but that she also has a two-week-old infant. I further explained that her husband was working at his job in Bradenton and that she didn’t have the baby’s car seat with her. I guess my red face and shaking hands worked because they miraculously found room for her! There was no way I was going to let them kick out a new mother and her infant when there were all sorts of healthy people in that hotel who could find another place to stay. (There are other hotel rooms in town – we checked.). If they’d resisted, I would have said, “She’s not leaving. You call the cops while I call the local news stations.” But, the manager agreed to let her stay…for one more day. I’m still very angry that they tried to do that to her. It wasn’t our or her fault that they overbooked.

One more day, however, wasn’t enough but it did buy us some time. When hours went by without the general manager calling me back, I posted a public note on Facebook and it started to go viral. People were tagging Hilton and the local news media on the post. The general manager then called and, suddenly, they’d found room for Ali and the baby for another week. We are once again happy with the Hilton. They did the right thing and I then removed the Facebook post (an hour after posting an update).

Now, we are going to try very hard to get caught up on all our work by the end of the weekend so that life can get back to NORMAL! And, I’ll get right on that once I check weather.com…because hurricane season lasts until November. The good news is, as live-aboards, we now have a plan (Richard wrote it down) of exactly what to do and what to pack. We’ll be far more prepared next time. 🙂

UPDATE: On Friday morning, Derek’s boat developed a fuel leak. There was rainbow water all over the marina. The Coast Guard was called in to lay booms to stop the leak from spreading and a firm brought in a truck to pump all the fuel out of the sunken boat. The boat will now be torn apart and hauled away. Estimated cost (with Hazmat, etc.) is now $80,000. 🙁

NEXT: SOMETHING MYSTERIOUS ROCKED ALL THE BOATS IN THE MARINA!

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Angela Hoy is a publisher, a blogger, and the author of 19 books. She lived on dirt her entire life before her family gave away almost everything they owned, and moved onto a 52-foot Irwin Center Cockpit Ketch. They all live, work, and play on board full-time.

Angela is the publisher of WritersWeekly.com, a free source of paying markets for freelance writers and photographers. If you want to write for magazines, websites, businesses, or others, check it out. It’s free! Her publishing services company, BookLocker.com, has published more than 9,000 books over the past 18 years. If you want to publish a book, she’d love to hear from you! Abuzz Press is BookLocker’s hybrid publishing company. And, PubPreppers.com offers services to authors who are having their books published elsewhere.

TURNING ON THE ENGINE GIVES RAMBO BLADDER CONTROL ISSUES

If you’re just tuning in, CLICK HERE to start at the beginning. 🙂

When we moved onboard, No Tan Lines had white, custom designed cushions on a little settee in the Captain’s Quarters. Of course, having kids, I knew the white cushions wouldn’t last long. What I didn’t suspect was that Rambo the cat would be the one to ruin them.

On this particular afternoon, Captain Brian fired up the engine and generator as part of his regular maintenance routine. Rambo was on board and promptly FREAKED OUT! He started whining and screaming, and ducked into his favorite spot, the little storage space next to the freezer.

The motor was going to be running for awhile and I wanted to make him comfortable. I coaxed him out, and brought him to our room where I was working. He crouched on the bed for a few minutes before jumping onto the settee, and promptly lost control of his bladder as he crept across the cushions. Every cushion was ruined.

We’re planning to cover the settee with custom-cut pieces of teak in the future to avoid any future Rambo potty problems.

For now, when we need to start the engine and/or generator, we put Rambo in the forward head, where his litter box is. I wish I had a solution for his engine anxiety but I don’t. We are hoping he eventually gets used to the noise.

He’s still mortally afraid of thunderstorms and it doesn’t seem he’s ever going to get used to those. 🙁

NEXT: WE ARE PREPARING FOR HURRICANE IRMA AND WE ARE VERY AFRAID!

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Angela Hoy is a publisher, a blogger, and the author of 19 books. She lived on dirt her entire life before her family gave away almost everything they owned, and moved onto a 52-foot Irwin Center Cockpit Ketch. They all live, work, and play on board full-time.

Angela is the publisher of WritersWeekly.com, a free source of paying markets for freelance writers and photographers. If you want to write for magazines, websites, businesses, or others, check it out. It’s free! Her publishing services company, BookLocker.com, has published more than 9,000 books over the past 18 years. If you want to publish a book, she’d love to hear from you! Abuzz Press is BookLocker’s hybrid publishing company. And, PubPreppers.com offers services to authors who are having their books published elsewhere.

Coco LOVES storms! Rambo HATES storms!

If you’re just tuning in, CLICK HERE to start at the beginning. 🙂

Coco is a four-year-old chocolate lab/chow mix. We rescued her from a shelter in Bradenton, Florida when she was a puppy. As you can see from this photo, she was VERY happy to be going to her forever home!

Rambo is an eight-year-old orange Maine coon cat who was found as a stray by our son-in-law’s friend, Cole, in Georgia. He ended up living in Maine with Cole and our son, Max, fell in love with him. The bond was so strong that Cole let Max adopt Rambo and they’ve been best friends ever since.

On the day we moved onto the boat, Coco looked the happiest we’d ever seen her! She ran around on the deck, fearless in her romping. And, so far, she hasn’t fallen in (knock on wood!). She loves sitting out on the deck in the sun, whether it’s beastly hot or freezing cold. She’s truly a boat dog, through and through.

Rambo prefers to stay inside during the day, and stalk the docks at night. When we got our first big blow last year, we heard Rambo screeching down below. We found him crouched down on his belly in the hallway, which is the lowest point in the boat. He was crying and shaking. And, that began a very uncomfortable period of time for Rambo. Each afternoon, like clockwork, the skies would open and the thunder would roar. Rambo would cower, and whine, and cry and we had to take him into the captain’s quarters and comfort him. He was truly a scaredy cat!

But, when the sun set, he would escape through the companionway, jump off the boat, and dart down the docks toward the park. We would leave the companionway open and he’d come home around 4 a.m. each morning, and jump up on our bed. He’d then meow and bite my head until I’d pet him for awhile. That was his reward for coming back home.

We later learned what mischief Rambo was getting into (ahem…) but that’s a whole ‘nuther chapter in this story.

NEXT: HOW DO YOU ENJOY INTIMACY WHEN LIVING ON A BOAT WITH CHILDREN?

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Angela Hoy is a publisher, a blogger, and the author of 19 books. She lived on dirt her entire life before her family gave away almost everything they owned, and moved onto a 52-foot Irwin Center Cockpit Ketch. They all live, work, and play on board full-time.

Angela is the publisher of WritersWeekly.com, a free source of paying markets for freelance writers and photographers. If you want to write for magazines, websites, businesses, or others, check it out. It’s free! Her publishing services company, BookLocker.com, has published more than 9,000 books over the past 18 years. If you want to publish a book, she’d love to hear from you! Abuzz Press is BookLocker’s hybrid publishing company. And, PubPreppers.com offers services to authors who are having their books published elsewhere.

MOVING DAY, TONS OF SMOKE, AND NO AIR CONDITIONING!

If you’re just tuning in, CLICK HERE to start at the beginning. 🙂

It was the last weekend in May. Moving day! There were boxes everywhere. Some were labeled storage. Others were labeled boat. And, the rest were piled up for Richard’s repeated trips to Goodwill. We’d given some of our furniture to our adult kiddos and the rest was being picked up by a junk hauling outfit.

No Tan Lines (“Tanny” for short) was “on the hard” at Embree Marine Service (which is EXCELLENT, by the way) for repairs required by the insurance company, and we wouldn’t be getting her back for another 10 days or so. We packed our suitcases, and headed to a hotel with the kids, dog, and cat. It was the off-season here in Florida so we were able to get an oceanfront room for a very good rate. It was a “suite” (a tiny one) with a bedroom, two queen beds, a kitchenette, a small living room, and a fold-out couch. It was quite cozy and the view couldn’t be beat.

We decided to turn our transition period into a mini-vacation and we had a great time there!

During those 10 days, Max and Mason started their beginner sailing lessons at the The St. Petersburg Sailing Center and they LOVED IT! I was so happy! Max was so excited on the day he was able to sail out of the basin, and into the bay where he saw dolphins and a stingray! He developed a great camaraderie with his fellow students. Mason, because of his age, was stuck in the small boats so he wasn’t able to have as much adventure time. But, he learned how to sail a small boat all on his own!

During the last day of that class, the parents were invited to not only watch the kids, but to sail with them. I rode in the tiny boat with Mason while Richard rode in a larger boat with Max. We were so proud of everything they’d learned in just 10 days of class! We just got in for the ride and they did everything all by themselves! Sails up, rudder, keel, tacking, adjusting lines – the works! They have both moved on to the intermediate class. After that one, they’ll start the racing class!

On our official “moving-onto-the-boat” day, we packed up the kids and pets, and drove to the boatyard. Capt. Brian was already there, prepping the boat for the trip to our new “home,” the St. Petersburg Municipal Marina. I went upstairs to pay the boatyard bill. We’d had a ton of work done and all of it came in at or under the estimates they’d given. $11,200 total. I was THRILLED!

We settled into No Tan Lines, which was still on the lift, to wait for Capt. Stan, who was going to help us take her to the marina. It was beastly hot that day so Brian had the generator running, and turned on the air conditioners. And, a few seconds later, all the ACs turned off, flashing error messages on their panels. Oh NO! A quick inspection by Brian showed that there was air in the hose leading to the seacock – the NEW seacock. Chad at Embree promptly sent one of his guys down and it was fixed in no time. Brian turned the ACs back on and the boat started to cool down. Aaaaaahhh. We were finally about to be on our way! But, while we were sitting in the cockpit, talking to the nice gentleman who’d just fixed our AC problem, he suddenly said, “You’ve got smoke!”

TONS of smoke was coming through the outside vents. Brian literally jumped into the salon and turned off the generator, threw open the floor hatch, and started to investigate. The amount of smoke was quite impressive! I had already shooed the kids and pets out into the cockpit. There was no fire. Brian assumed it was a belt (and, later, we found out he was right). I was praying it wasn’t electrical. I was a bit nervous about the boat catching on fire once we plugged into shore power. But, Brian had been right. It was just a belt and it’s since been fixed.

Capt. Stan arrived, No Tan Lines was splashed, Stan easily backed her up, and turned her into the channel, and we were heading home! It as an easy trip to the marina, which was just around the corner. We were only in Tampa Bay for about 15 minutes. We had to stop by the marina office so we could be measured and inspected. Then, Stan steered her around the corner again, to our slip.

She was smoothly docked and Capt. Brian got busy hooking up the shore power and adjusting the lines. I sat nervously for about half an hour, hoping we wouldn’t have more smoke. And, we did not!

Richard and Max drove to our storage place for our “boat” boxes and we spent the rest of the day unpacking and settling in. That evening, we all sat in the cockpit, eating our dinner with plates on our laps, watching the gorgeous sunset, and feeling the stress of moving finally leave our shoulders.

It had taken about a year and a half of planning and a WHOLE LOT OF WORK but we were FINALLY LIVING IN OUR FLOATING HOME!!! My dream had come true!!!

NEXT:  BLACK SKY, 30 MPH WINDS – OUR FIRST BIG STORM REVEALS TONS OF LEAKS!

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Angela Hoy is a publisher, a blogger, and the author of 19 books. She lived on dirt her entire life before her family gave away almost everything they owned, and moved onto a 52-foot Irwin Center Cockpit Ketch. They all live, work, and play on board full-time.

Angela is the publisher of WritersWeekly.com, a free source of paying markets for freelance writers and photographers. If you want to write for magazines, websites, businesses, or others, check it out. It’s free! Her publishing services company, BookLocker.com, has published more than 9,000 books over the past 18 years. If you want to publish a book, she’d love to hear from you! Abuzz Press is BookLocker’s hybrid publishing company. And, PubPreppers.com offers services to authors who are having their books published elsewhere.