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On Living Aboard

September 24, 2020

Hurricanes come and go and if you live aboard a boat as we do, you become, out of necessity, an expert on deciphering their unpredictability. There are many ways of obtaining useful information, which helps when you’re deciding what action to take to avoid a coming storm. As I’ve mentioned before, extremely accurate weather information can be obtained, but at a price. If you have a smart phone, or a computer, good weather information can be had for little or nothing. It does however take some time and effort.
A quick search on the internet will show no end of weather sites that ​​promise weather information that will guide you through any event. I look at any weather site with suspicion. Information gleaned by them is mostly obtained from one source: NOAA, which is an acronym for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a branch of the US government. To augment that, local forecasters rely on data obtained on site.
NOAA has very good hurricane tracking information, which I like to use. All storms, depressions and the like are plotted with their predicted paths laid out in language that any layman can decipher. There is also a site from the United Kingdom that’s quite popular as well. Bottom line, if it’s there, I look at it. That being said, I always take these predictions with the proverbial grain of salt. These things can change direction in an instant. In the old days, before it became politically incorrect, they were always given feminine names for that very reason.
The recent storm with its funny name took a while to get here, giving me a chance to prepare. Based on what the prognosticators were saying, it wasn’t going to be a huge deal. The predicted wind direction made keeping Patty O’ at her home dock possible. We dug out the storm lines and the big 75-pound Danforth anchor, from our storage unit. The storm lines are made up in spring and become our winter lines in fall. The old lines are then disposed of. There have been years when these used lines are sought after by others in the yard, claiming that they are “perfectly good” and shake their heads at our seeming waste. New lines every year are cheap insurance as far as I’m concerned.
Mustard, our little Century runabout came out of the water and spent the storm secured in my friend Ritchie’s barn. One boat is enough to worry about.
Of course, if the storm had been predicted to be really nasty, we would have moved from the yard to one of several hidey-holes we’ve scoped out over the years. The ultimate prep is to get Patty O’ set up and then leave her, keeping personal safety first and foremost. We love our boat and everything therein, but not to the point of putting ourselves in harm’s way.
The storm came as predicted, but due to our preparations, it was pretty much a ho-hum for us. There was one large sailboat in the yard that broke loose and ended up ashore on the far side of the cove. Several others had their sails unraveled, and we noticed not a few Bimini top covers on power boat flying bridges ripped off. It was obvious that some people don’t bother to make sure their boats are prepared for nasty weather. I asked one owner about it and his answer was, “My insurance is paid up.”
We’re still keeping a low profile due to the virus. A lot of places are beginning to open up but we’re taking a very conservative approach to this, and by that I don’t mean political. When we’re off the boat we wear a mask and practice the six-foot rule. While most of the people here seem to do the same, there are some who do not. We’ve chosen our path and they have chosen theirs. So be it.
The Blonde is continuing her work from home and has branched out doing things she never did before. She’s up to the challenge however and seems to be thriving. I’m still doing all the domestic chores and have done a few miscellaneous jobs for the yard, mostly dealing with electrical service items, which I am licensed to perform.
We did manage to get away for an overnighter one weekend. It was the first time we’ve been underway since the lock down began. We didn’t go far, and sat at anchor and grilled a nice dinner. It was great to get away even if it was just for one day. We are hoping that before the season ends we’ll be able to do a week or two either up or down the coast. I know a lot of people have been enjoying this summer afloat but it just hasn’t been our fate.
I was enjoying a pleasant afternoon sprawled out in one of the cockpit chairs. Half asleep, I was dreaming about swimming in the clear warm water in St. Somewhere when there was a knock on the hull.
“Hey,” he said. “Are you awake?”
A middle-aged man in trendy sport clothes stood on the dock.  “Can I come aboard?”
Still half asleep, I noticed he was mask-less.
“Can I help you?” I asked pulling on my mask.
“Oh don’t worry,” he said. “I’ve been tested. I’ve been admiring your boat for a long time and I’m wondering if you’d consider selling her?”
Shaking my head to get all the sleep out, I looked at him again. “Not really for sale.” I said. “We’re quite happy with her.”
“I’m sure you are, he said, hoisting his leg over the coaming.”
“I’m sorry,” I said. “I haven’t invited you aboard.” He moved back to the dock with a look of disbelief on his face. I recognized the look from someone who was used to getting his way.
“What number would it take to make you change your mind?” It was obvious that he wasn’t plaining on taking ‘no’ for an answer.
“I can give you the grand tour,” I said “But it’s not convenient right now. And I can’t emphasize enough that she’s not for sale, and probably won’t be for some time.”
“Ok.” He said. “I understand. I did come on a bit much. Here’s my card.” He said, handing me an elegant business card. “Give me a call when it’s convenient.” With that, he turned and strolled up the dock. I watched him walk to the parking lot where he got into an Escalade and drove away.
Later at the yard shop, I saw Ray the forman and asked him about the guy.
“Oh yeah.” he said. “He drives that dark Escalade? He’s the guy whose sailboat ended up onna bank after the storm. More money than brains.”
Telling the Blonde about him over lasagna later that evening, she shook her head. “Don’t you even ‘THINK’ of selling Patty O’ after all we’ve been through together!”
“Not a chance.” I said toasting her with my glass. We’re all three stuck with each other.”
“For sure!” she answered, toasting me back.

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