Daily Archives: May 1, 2009

SomeTips for Hurricane Preparedness

In one month another hurricane season will be upon us. Since Katrina and Wilma there are thousands of new residents here in Florida and along the Gulf Coast who have never had to deal with a storm that their worst nightmares never prepared them for. I have spent most of my life living in hurricane target areas; Cape Cod, south Florida and Louisiana and have learned a few things in 66 years. Here are a few tips for those new to hurricane preparedness and reminders to those who have but weren’t paying attention the last time.

1) You don’t want to do your emergency shopping the day before the storm hits. The Publix, Winn Dixie and Wal Mart Super Stores, Sam’s Club and Costco are going to be a veritable ZOO. Stock up early! It’s truly simple to do. At the start of each hurricane season every time you go to the store buy a little extra. If you usually buy two cans of tuna, buy three and put one away in a closet separate from your pantry so you won’t be tempted to use it in your every day cooking. Pick up other canned goods, Spam, pork and beans, ravioli, spaghetti sauce, Ramen noodles. Stuff you can just put in a pan and heat up. Just a couple of items every time you shop and in a few weeks you’ll have a couple of weeks worth of food in reserve. But the important thing is KEEP IT AWAY FROM YOUR USUAL SUPPLY.

2) Buy a large package of batteries AA, C, whatever your flashlights and portable radios use and keep it with your food supply. Stock up on paper plates to eat off of because the water is going to be off for a couple of days at least and you aren’t going to be able to wash your regular dishes.

3) Buy one of those flashlights that you can charge up with a crank on the side. You can pick one up for about $10. They even make flashlights that  charge up by solar power. And they aren’t expensive, either.

4) Have a portable radio so you can listen to the news. The one I have, since before Wilma, run between $35 to $50. Cranking them up is a bit of a pain but they really work and mine also works off a couple of AA batteries that I have stored away. It has AM/FM and NOAA weather stations.

5) DON’T BUY CANDLES!!! You’re going to be miserable enough when the lights and water go out, and sometimes for weeks at a time. Think how miserable you’re going to be if your home burns down because a candle set it on fire.

6) Store up some drinking water the same way you stored up food. You need a half a gallon per person per day to drink and to prepare some foods, like the Ramen noodles and spaghetti you’re going to put that sauce on that’s sitting in your emergency supply.

7) If you can afford to right now, get a camp stove that runs on gas. I’ve had a two burner stove that I bought at an RV supply store years ago, again before Wilma. It runs off the same gas tank that powers the grill on the patio. And don’t think you’re going to do all your cooking for a week or so off that patio grill, either. Especially if it doesn’t have a couple of auxiliary burners.

8) DON’T USE A CHARCOAL GRILL INDOORS. The carbon monoxide will kill you!

9) Want’s to take a hot shower when there’s no electricity to run the water heater? Go to a marine supply store or a place like Bass Pro and get a “solar shower.” It’s a heavy-duty plastic bag, one side is black and the other is clear. Fill it up, lay it out in the sun for a couple of hours and I guarantee it will be hot enought to scald you.

10) Here’s one people almost never think of…make sure that the plug on your bathtub is REALLY WATER TIGHT AND WON’T LEAK!!!  When the storm is about to hit fill your tub to the top. You’re not going to drink this stuff, but when the water goes off like the electricity, HOW ARE YOU GOING TO FLUSH YOUR TOILET? After the water goes off you get ONE FREE FLUSH AND THAT’S IT!!!  With the water in the tub you take a bucket and pour a gallon or so into the bowl and voila, you’re done. And for heaven’s sake don’t flush it if you’ve just used the toilet to take a whizz. That’s a waste of water, and you ladies, it’s only a couple of drops on the toilet paper when you wipe so throw it in a trash bag and not in the toilet bowl. That bathtub water is for getting rid of the really nasty stuff. You can also use the bath tub water to wash your dishes.

Comments Off on SomeTips for Hurricane Preparedness

Filed under Uncategorized

Live Aboard Simulator

This is FUNNY… Thanks to Larry at Google rec.boats.cruising

The Liveaboard Simulator”

Just for fun, park your cars in the lot of the convenience store
at least 2 blocks from your house. (Make believe the sidewalk is a
floating dock between your car and the house.

Move yourself and your family (If applicable) into 2 bedrooms and 1
bathroom. Measure the DECK space INSIDE your boat. Make sure the
occupied house has no more space, or closet space, or drawer space.

Boats don’t have room for “beds”, as such. Fold your Sealy
Posturepedic up against a wall, it won’t fit on a boat. Go to a hobby
fabric store and buy a foam pad 5′ 10″ long and 4′ wide AND NO MORE
THAN 3″ THICK. Cut it into a triangle so the little end is only 12″
wide. This simulates the foam pad in the V-berth up in the pointy bow
of the sailboat. Bring in the kitchen table from the kitchen you’re
not allowed to use. Put the pad UNDER the table, on the floor, so you
can simulate the 3′ of headroom over the pad.
Block off both long sides of the pad, and the pointy end so you have
to climb aboard the V-berth from the wide end where your pillows will
be. The hull blocks off the sides of a V-berth and you have to climb
up over the end of it through a narrow opening (hatch to main cabin)
on a boat. You’ll climb over your mate’s head to go to the potty in
the night. No fun for either party. Test her mettle and resolve by
getting up this way right after you go to bed at night. There are lots
of things to do on a boat and you’ll forget at least one of them,
thinking about it laying in bed, like “Did I remember to tie off the
dingy better?” or “Is that spring line (at the dock) or anchor line
(anchored out) as tight as it should be?” Boaters who don’t worry
about things like this laying in bed are soon aground or on
fire or the laughing stock of an anchorage…. You need to find out
how much climbing over her she will tolerate BEFORE you’re stuck with
a big boat and big marina bills and she refuses to sleep aboard it any

Bring a coleman stove into the bathroom and set it next to the
bathroom sink. Your boat’s sink is smaller, but we’ll let you use the
bathroom sink, anyways. Do all your cooking in the bathroom, WITHOUT
using the bathroom power vent. If you have a boat vent, it’ll be a
useless 12v one that doesn’t draw near the air your bathroom power
vent draws to take away cooking odors. Leave the hall door open to
simulate the open hatch. Take all the screens off your 2 bedroom’s
windows. Leave the windows open to let in the bugs that will invade
your boat at dusk, and the flies attracted to the cooking.

Borrow a 25 gallon drum mounted on a trailer. Flush your
toilets into the drums. Trailer the drums to the convenience store to
dump them when they get full. Turn off your sewer, you won’t have
one. This will simulate going to the “pump out station” every time the
tiny drum is full. 25 gallons is actually LARGER than most holding
tanks.They’re more like 15 gallons on small sailboats under 40′ because they
were added to the boat after the law changed requiring them and there
was no place to put it or a bigger one. They fill up really fast if
you liveaboard!

Unless your boat is large enough to have a big “head” with full bath,
make believe your showers/bathtubs don’t work. Make a deal with
someone next door to the convenience store to use THEIR bathroom for
bathing at the OTHER end of the DOCK. (Marina rest room) If you use
this rest room to potty, while you’re there, make believe it has no
paper towels or toilet paper. Bring your own. Bring your own soap
and anything else you’d like to use there, too.

If your boat HAS a shower in its little head, we’ll let you use the
shower end of the bathtub, but only as much tub as the boat has FREE
shower space for standing to shower. As the boat’s shower drains into a little pan
in the bilge, be sure to leave the soapy shower water in the bottom of
the tub for a few days before draining it. Boat shower sumps always
smell like spent soap growing exotic living organisms science hasn’t
actually discovered or named, yet. Make sure your simulated V-berth is
less than 3′ from this soapy water for sleeping. The shower sump is
under the passageway to the V-berth next to your pillows.

Run you whole house through a 20 amp breaker to simulate available
dock power at the marina. If you’re thinking of anchoring out, turn
off the main breaker and “make do” with a boat battery and
flashlights. Don’t forget you have to heat your house on this 20A
supply and try to keep the water from freezing in winter.

Turn off the water main valve in front of your house. Run a hose from
your neighbor’s lawn spigot over to your lawn spigot and get all your
water from there. Try to keep the hose from freezing all winter.

As your boat won’t have a laundry, disconnect yours. Go to a boat
supply place, like West Marine, and buy you a dock cart. Haul ALL
your supplies, laundry, garbage, etc. between the car at the
convenience store and house in this cart. Once a week, haul your
outboard motor to the car, leave it a day then haul it back to the
house, in the cart, to simulate “boat problems” that require “boat
parts” to be removed/replaced on your “dock”. If ANYTHING ever comes
out of that cart between the convenience store and the house, put it
in your garage and forget about it. (Simulates losing it over the
side of the dock, where it sank in 23′ of water and was dragged off by
the current.)

Each morning, about 5AM, have someone you don’t know run a weedeater
back and forth under your bedroom windows to simulate the fishermen
leaving the marina to go fishing. Have him slam trunk lids, doors,
blow car horns and bang some heavy pans together from 4AM to 5AM
before lighting off the weedeater. (Simulates loading boats
with booze and fishing gear and gas cans.) Once a week, have him bang
the running weedeater into your bedroom wall to simulate the idiot who
drove his boat into the one you’re sleeping in because he was half
asleep leaving the dock. Put a rope over a big hook in the ceiling
over your coffee table “bed”. Hook one end of the rope to the coffee
table siderail and the other end out where he can pull on it. As soon
as he shuts off the weedeater, have him pull hard 9 times on the rope
to tilt your bed at least 30 degrees. (Simulates the wakes of the
fishermen blasting off trying to beat each other to the fishing.)
Anytime there is a storm in your area, have someone constantly pull on
the rope. It’s rough riding storms in the marina! If your boat is a
sailboat, install a big wire from the top of the tallest tree to your
electrical ground in the house to simulate mast lightning strikes in
the marina, or to give you the thought of potential lightning strikes.

Each time you “go out”, or think of going boating away from your
marina, disconnect the neighbor’s water hose, your electric wires, all
the umbilicals your new boat will use to make life more bearable in the marina.

Use bottled drinking water for 2 days for everything. Get one of those
5 gallon jugs with the airpump on top from a bottled water company.
This is your boat’s “at sea” water system simulator. You’ll learn to
conserve water this way. Of course, not having the marina’s AC power
supply, you’ll be lighting and all from a car battery, your only
source of power. If you own or can borrow a generator, feel free to
leave it running to provide AC power up to the limit of the generator.
If you’re thinking about a 30′ sailboat, you won’t have room for a
generator so don’t use it.

Any extra family members must be sleeping on the settees in the main
cabin or in the quarter berth under the cockpit….unless you intend
to get a boat over 40-something feet with an aft cabin. Smaller boats
have quarter berths. Cut a pad out of the same pad material that is no
more than 2′ wide by 6′ long. Get a cardboard box from an appliance
store that a SMALL refridgerator came in. Put the pad in the box, cut
to fit, and make sure only one end of the box is open. The box can be
no more than 2 feet above the pad. Quarter berths are really tight.
Make them sleep in there, with little or no air circulation. That’s
what sleeping in a quarterberth is all about.

Of course, to simulate sleeping anchored out for the weekend, no heat
or air conditioning will be used and all windows will be open without
screens so the bugs can get in.

In the mornings, everybody gets up and goes out on the patio to enjoy
the sunrise. Then, one person at a time goes back inside to dress,
shave, clean themselves in the tiny cabin unless you’re a family of
nudists who don’t mind looking at each other in the buff. You can’t
get dressed in the stinky little head with the door closed on a
sailboat. Hell, there’s barely room to bend over so you can sit on the
commode. So, everyone will dress in the main cabin….one at a time.

Boat tables are 2′ x 4′ and mounted next to the settee. There’s no
room for chairs in a boat. So, eat off a 2X4′ space on that kitchen
table you slept under while sitting on a couch (settee simulator). You
can also go out with breakfast and sit on the patio (cockpit), if you

Ok, breakfast is over. Crank up the lawnmower under the window for 2
hours. It’s time to recharge the batteries from last night’s usage and
to freeze the coldplate in the boat’s icebox which runs off a
compressor on the engine. Get everybody to clean up your little hovel.
Don’t forget to make the beds from ONE END ONLY. You can’t get to the
other 3 sides of a boat bed pad.

All hands go outside and washdown the first fiberglass UPS truck that
passes by. That’s about how big the deck is on your 35′ sailboat that
needs to have the ocean cleaned off it daily or it’ll turn the white
fiberglass all brown like the UPS truck. Now, doesn’t the UPS truck
look nice like your main deck?

Ok, we’re going to need some food, do the laundry, buy some boat parts
that failed because the manufacturer’s bean counters got cheap and
used plastics and the wife wants to “eat out, I’m fed up with cooking
on the Coleman stove” today. Let’s make believe we’re not at home, but
in some exotic port like Ft Lauderdale, today….on our cruise to Key
West……Before “going ashore”, plan on buying all the food you’ll
want to eat that will:

A – Fit into the Coleman Cooler on the floor
B – You can cook on the Coleman stove without an oven or all those
fancy kitchen tools you don’t have on the boat
C – And will last you for 10 days, in case the wind drops and it takes
more time than we planned at sea.
Plan meals carefully in a boat. We can’t buy more than we can STORE,

You haven’t washed clothes since you left home and everything is
dirty. Even if it’s not, pretend it is for the boater-away-from-home
simulator. Put all the clothes in your simulated boat in a huge
dufflebag so we can take it to the LAUNDRY! Manny’s Marina HAS a
laundromat, but the hot water heater is busted (for the last 8 months)
and Manny has “parts on order” for it…..saving Manny $$$$ on the
electric bill! Don’t forget to carry the big dufflebag with us on our
“excursion”. God that bag stinks, doesn’t it?….PU!

Of course, we came here by BOAT, so we don’t have a car. Some nice
marinas have a shuttle bus, but they’re not a taxi. The shuttle bus
will only go to West Marine or the tourist traps, so we’ll be either
taking the city bus, if there is one or taxi cabs or shopping at the
marina store which has almost nothing to buy at enormous prices.

Walk to the 7-11 store, where you have your car stored, but ignore the
car. Make believe it isn’t there. No one drove it to Ft Lauderdale for you.
Use the payphone at the 7-11 and call a cab. Don’t give the cab driver
ANY instructions because in Ft Lauderdale you haven’t the foggiest
idea where West Marine is located or how to get there, unlike at home.
We’ll go to West Marine, first, because if we don’t the “head” back on
the boat won’t be working for a week because little Suzy broke a valve
in it trying to flush some paper towels. This is your MOST important
project, today….that valve in the toilet!! After the cab drivers
drives around for an hour looking for West Marine and asking his
dispatcher how to get there. Don’t forget to UNLOAD your stuff from
the cab, including the dirty clothes in the dufflebag then go into
West Marine and give the clerk a $100 bill, simulating the cost of
toilet parts. Lexus parts are cheaper than toilet parts at West
Marine. See for yourself! The valve she broke, the
seals that will have to be replaced on the way into the valve will
come to $100 easy. Tell the clerk you’re using my liveaboard simulator
and to take his girlfriend out to dinner on your $100 greenback. If
you DO buy the boat, this’ll come in handy when you DO need boat parts
because he’ll remember you for the great time his girlfriend gave him
on your $100 tip. Hard-to-find boat parts will arrive in DAYS, not months like the rest
of us. It’s just a good political move while in simulation mode.

Call another cab from West Marine’s phone, saving 50c on payphone
charges. Load the cab with all your stuff, toilet parts, DIRTY CLOTHES then
tell the cabbie to take you to the laundromat so we can wash the
stinky clothes in the trunk. The luxury marina’s laundry in Ft
Lauderdale has a broken hot water heater. They’re working on it, the
girl at the store counter, said, yesterday. Mentioning the $12/ft you
paid to park the boat at their dock won’t get the laundry working
before we leave for Key West. Do your laundry in the laundromat the
cabbie found for you. Just because noone speaks English in this
neighborhood, don’t worry. You’ll be fine this time of day near noon.

Call another cab to take us out of here to a supermarket. When you get
there, resist the temptation to “load up” because your boat has
limited storage and very limited refridgeration space (remember?
Coleman Cooler).

Buy from the list we made early this morning. Another package of
cookies is OK. Leave one of the kids guarding the pile of clean
laundry just inside the supermarket’s front door….We learned our
lesson and DIDN’T forget and leave it in the cab, again!

Call another cab to take us back to the marina, loaded up with clean
clothes and food and all-important boat parts. Isn’t Ft Lauderdale
beautiful from a cab? It’s too late to go exploring, today. Maybe
tomorrow…. Don’t forget to tell the cab to go to the 7-11 (marina
parking lot)….not your front door….cabs don’t float well.

Ok, haul all the stuff in the dock cart from the 7-11 store the two
blocks to the “boat” bedroom. Wait 20 minutes before starting out for
the house. This simulates waiting for someone to bring back a marina-owned dock
cart from down the docks…..They always leave them outside their
boats, until the marina “crew” get fed up with newbies like us asking
why there aren’t any carts and go down the docks to retrieve them.

Put all the stuff away, food and clothes, in the tiny drawer space
provided. Have a beer on the patio (cockpit) and watch the sunset.
THIS is living!

Now, disassemble the toilet in your bathroom, take out the wax ring
under it and put it back. Reassemble the toilet. This completes the
simulation of putting the new valve in the “head” on the boat. Uh, uh,
GET YOUR HAND OFF THAT SWITCH! The whole “boat” smells like the inside
of the holding tank for hours after fixing the toilet in a real boat,
too! Spray some Lysol if you got it….

After getting up, tomorrow morning, from your “V-Berth”, take the
whole family out to breakfast by WALKING to the nearest restaurant,
then take a cab to any local park or attraction you like. We’re off
today to see the sights of Ft Lauderdale…..before heading out to
sea, again, to Key West. Take a cab back home after dinner out and go to bed, exhausted, on
your little foam pad under the table…..

Get up this morning and disconnect all hoses, electrical wires, etc.
Get ready for “sea”. Crank up the lawn mower under the open bedroom
window for 4 hours while we motor out to find some wind. ONE
responsible adult MUST be sitting on the hot patio all day, in shifts,
“on watch” looking out for other boats, ships, etc. If you have a
riding lawn mower, let the person “on watch” drive it around the yard
all day to simulate driving the boat down the ICW in heavy traffic.
About 2PM, turn off the engine and just have them sit on the mower
“steering” it on the patio. We’re under sail, now. Every hour or so,
take everyone out in the yard with a big rope and have a tug-of-war to
simulate the work involved with setting sail, changing sail, trimming
sail. Make sure everyone gets all sweaty in the heat.
Sailors working on sailboats are always all sweaty or we’re not going
anywhere fast! Do this all day, today, all night, tonight, all day,
tomorrow, all night tomorrow night and all day the following day until
5PM when you “arrive” at the next port you’re going to. Make sure
no one in the family leaves the confines of the little bedroom or the
patio during our “trip”. Make sure everyone conserves water, battery
power, etc., things you’ll want to conserve while being at sea on a
trip somewhere. Everyone can go up to the 7-11 for an icecream as soon
as we get the “boat” docked on day 3, the first time anyone has left
the confines of the bedroom/patio in 3 days.

Question – Was anyone suicidal during our simulated voyage? Keep an
eye out for anyone with a problem being cooped up with other family
members. If anyone is attacked, any major fights break out, any
threats to throw the captain to the fish…..forget all about boats
and buy a motorhome, instead.

Comments Off on Live Aboard Simulator

Filed under boats, cruising