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Date: 11 September 2017. Hurricane Irma Saga.
The Hurricane Irma Saga contains the entire four part series published on 18, 19, 20 and 30 September 2017. The hurricane hit St. Pete on 11 September 2017.

janice142
 

This the total Hurricane Irma Saga. If you  prefer the individual parts they are found here:

 


 

Date: 18 September 2017. Hurricane Irma (part 1)


Most important of all: Seaweed and I are now FINE!



Skipper and I are a-okay back where we belong: aboard Seaweed.


Over the decades I have experienced more than my fair share of hurricanes both afloat and ashore. Some have profoundly effected my sense of well-being. Others have helped frame my current life and lifestyle. This final one, Hurricane Irma, has cemented a decision made back in the late 1990's, one that I had disregarded for Irma much to my chagrin. This is a mistake I will do my utmost to avoid in the future.
 

There is an old saying "Fool me once, your fault. Fool me twice, mine."
Hurricane Irma was my Number Two... Keep reading for the whys and wherefores.

 


Skipper's with me, always. The opinions expressed below are definitely my own.
 

To backtrack a bit...
Kidlet moved to Pensacola for college in 2003. Hurricane Ivan came blasting through in 2004. Kidlet's neighborhood was without power for three long, hot humid weeks. If we had power, we could have saved the carpets. Instead they mildewed. Everything was a mess. It was just miserable.
 


Her kitchen did have propane for cooking so we became better acquainted with the neighbors. You know, the ability to make a pot of coffee first thing in the morning for the caffeine addicted is a sure-fire way to cement friendships. I highly recommend it.


Hurricane Katrina arrived a year after Ivan to rub salt in the wounds. Again Kidlet's house was without power for three weeks. The humidity could have been cut with a butter knife. To make matters more "interesting" Mother was in the later stages of Alzheimer's disease. On good days Mother was a hand-full. Post storm, sans power, was not something I'd care to repeat.
 

Here's a quote from Kidlet's blog during that time: I wish my grandma would stop touching my stuff and insisting it was hers to begin with, then denying she ever touched anything, while my things are in her hands.


When I contrasted life ashore without power with my life as a child aboard our 40'er, there was no comparison. We made our own power. We had our own ship's stores with lockers full of necessities. We carried at least a few months worth of food at all times. We could fish, read, swim, relax and eat at will.


Son and I are sharing clam dip on crackers aboard the boat.


We were safe and secure aboard our boat. I wanted that. The hurricanes (Ivan and Katrina) that hit my Kidlet's home shook me to the core. I wanted to always have the means to create power in my home. Now it's taken me nine-plus years to get where I wanted way back when...

Today I make my own power. My life is virtually the same rather I am tied to a dock or at anchor in a remote cove. The air-conditioner does require a generator and yes, I've got one. Life is truly wonderful aboard my boat.

To leave Seaweed was untenable. I did not want to leave.
 

This storm, Irma, threatened massive flooding. NOAA was projecting five to seven feet above ground level on their Slosh Surge page.


Link: Update #46 for Hurricane Irma P-Surge 2.6


Frankly that worried me. When I was PROMISED an immediate return after the storm was through I wavered. For the first time since the fiasco in the Florida Keys when those of us who left were prohibited from returning immediately, I considered evacuation. It was a wrenching decision and I NEVER wanted to leave my Seaweed.
 

I was heartsick at even the thought of leaving my home.


There was A LOT of pressure to leave.


This is where I belong:

I love my boat, and life aboard her is sweet. I truly am blessed.


I believe it is all too easy for folks to say stuff like "you can replace your boat". No, I don't believe I could do so. Even the thought of trying to do such a thing is frightening. There were only six of these miniature Schucker's built. There are just three in existence today. Finding another would be darn near impossible. Replicating all I have aboard, even if I had the funds, would take time.
 

After the half-century mark, time becomes all the more crucial. Younger folks simply don't understand the ticking clock that accompanies those of us past a certain age. Throw in cancer and mortality resonates in our very being.


For the record, I am not dying. I am living. There is a difference.


To others a boat may be considered a luxury, a fancy way of living. To me, my Seaweed is more than just a home. She's my shelter, my safety, my tranquility and my happiness. All of that is in one 23' long package. I love this boat.
 

Even on a rainy day, life aboard Seaweed is happy.

I am inside with all my goodies enjoying the view sipping hot mint chocolate coffee.
Details on how to make that found in the
Flavored Coffees (economical versions) vignette.
 

More tomorrow. This article has grown like crazy. I'll post the next part shortly.


Date: 19 September 2017. Hurricane Irma (part 2)


As written in Hurricane Irma (part 1), my Seaweed is more than just a home. She's my shelter, my safety, my tranquility and my happiness. I love my boat. Protecting her is paramount. Hurricane season each year is from the first of June through the end of November. For me having  places where I can hide from *fetch is critical.

*Fetch is the length of open water between your boat and the horizon. A short distance means winds and waves have less chance to build up. It is safer. More information on fetch can be found in the By the Shipyard article.


I intend to go further, see more places, explore and enjoy life afloat.

I'm not sure how far I'll get however I have lots of charts. I am waiting on incoming Amazon and eBay orders.


Seaweed takes care of me. When the sun shines I've got power via my solar panels. When the breeze blows, I've got more power from my wind generator. If neither sun nor wind cooperate, Bluebell powers my life. Bluebell is my gasoline generator. Bluebell will even run the air-conditioner. At anchor, off the grid, my life is wonderful. I am truly blessed.
 

My friend Irene has the same generator as I do. We have Yamaha 1000's.

Irene made a blue canvas cover for hers. Mine is stored inside under a beige cover.
 

But I digress... Suffice it to say, Seaweed is special to me. Very, very special.


The local cops were riding in their cruisers up and down streets blaring recordings saying "get out" along with a "mandatory evacuation order" for barrier island residents.


I was busy tying Seaweed off to the neighbor's dock and my mangrove. Plus I set my anchor out in the middle of the canal to pull myself away from everything. None of this was easy.


Irene aboard S/V Katja was preparing her Valient32 at Treasure Key Marina in the Bahamas.


Storm preparation is not simply a matter of adding lines to your vessel. You must adjust them to account for tides, wind direction, and more. Plus with a sailboat all the sails have to come down. None of this is physically easy.
 

For Seaweed that meant five lines from her port side up wind (eastward) to four different pilings. The five lines all ended on separate cleats. I had six lines on the starboard side. Undue stress at any single point was to be avoided.

Then I rowed my anchor out into the canal. That meant finding fenders to float the anchor chain. Physically I could not simply row upwind with all that chain dragging across the bottom. I tied fenders to the chain each fifteen feet to help lift the chain.
 

 

Some may suggest that I could have just dropped the chain length desired into my dinghy. I considered that. The problem would have been untangling the chain and letting it out without giving myself a swimming lesson.
 

What I should have done: Two or three days prior to the storm I should have taken my anchor out via Seaweed and planted it mid-canal.
 

Next I could have returned Seaweed to where I'm rafted up, then laid out more chain. The chain would lie across the bottom until just prior to the hurricane's arrival. With the chain lowered it would not interfere with other boaters as they moved their vessels around.

The day before I could have adjusted my anchor and tightened up the chain.

 


Using the fenders was not entirely successful. I would have preferred to have the anchor out an additional 25'. I wasn't strong enough to make that happen. Instead I got out about 50' of chain and called it Good Enough. Not ideal, but then the world seldom is perfect.


In Treasure Key Marina, my friend Irene adjusted and readjusted her lines through tide changes.

Irene is one smart cookie: She's left up her bimini to provide some shade. That came down last!
 

Making the lines the correct length, taking into considering storm surge, preventing the boat from touching the dock... All of this is difficult. It is an art that boaters continually work at perfecting.


It is always a good idea to have another boater check your work. An experienced eye is always a good thing. Once you're done though, you're done. There will always be those who criticize. Hindsight is 20/20 and rubbing salt in a wound is never helpful.


Date: 20 September 2017. Hurricane Irma (part 3)
 

Believe me when I say hindsight is 20/20. Everyone is smarter after the fact. I sure was/am. Knowing what I know now, would I have left? NO WAY. And I was not the only person who felt betrayed. Universally, those I met across the bridge on the mainland side were all sorry we had left our homes on the beach. The promises made of an early return were not kept.

Telling me 10' to 15' of water is expected in Miami and watching a reporter standing in ankle deep water does not engender trust in the news media. This storm, here, was over-hyped. NOAA had the storm surge wrong -- all wrong.

 

 

None of us want to be forced off our boats.

 

This is my happy spot.

This is NOT a happy spot.

Irene's boat Katja spider-webbed for storm.

 


You may note that Irene (photo, above right) has her lines to and from all her cleats. Those of us who have owned a boat for any length of time have added cleats. It's a given. Boats need more than they have as standard equipment.

Buy large ones, big enough for your largest storm lines. Aboard Seaweed I primarily use 8" cleats, all stainless of course.


Storm preparation is physically demanding work. Getting a boat ready for a hurricane is mentally exhausting.  Nobody wants to contemplate ever leaving their home unprotected for some other place. We nest, creating a safe nook for our lives aboard our homes.


As for me, I dug out every line I have stowed and put them all out. There is no use storing a spare line in a locker when it might be necessary to keep my boat in place. I knew that once the lines were set I'd have the boat too far away from the dock to exit. That was okay and I was perfectly satisfied to stay aboard centered in front of the mangroves.
 

These are "my" mangroves. I share with a variety of waterfowl.

Seaweed is barely visible just above the main cross-wise branch.
 

The plan was to tuck in as close as possible to my mangroves. I centered Seaweed between the boat to my west and a finger pier on the east. There was approximately 5' of open water between me and the hard stuff. To get to land I could use Algae, the dinghy. (Algae has an automatic bilge pump so I'm not concerned about even torrential rains.)

I am well protected from winds via the mangrove. Mangrove swamps are often considered hurricane holes. Folks look for them, tie off to the branches and sit tight during major hurricanes. When I was growing up, that is exactly what we would do. Mangroves also offer a "soft edge" when the winds kick.


My location was ideal. Yet I left my Seaweed. I bowed to pressure from a multitude of well-meaning friends. The wildly inaccurate
NOAA Hurricane Irma P-Surge 2.6 report played a part too. The decision I made to leave my home haunts me. The strong independent woman I see myself as, caved. When I look in the mirror I'm not happy with myself.
 

 

The feeling of inadequacy will abate. That won't happen overnight.

 

Hurricane in Year:

Aftermath of storm:

 

Andrew in 1992

Locals giving directions saying "turn right where the Circle K used to be"

Georges in 1998

Government "for our own good" refused to allow FL Keys residents back home.

Ivan in 2004

No power, carpets mildewed, hot and humid

Katrina in 2005

More of the same, hot and humid, no power for three weeks.

Irma in 2017

Once again, government officials refused to let locals who left in good faith return ASAP as promised. Say "never again" and your thoughts are echoing my own.

 


I'm having a hard time accepting that I would leave a great spot, go to the mainland, live once again without electricity, be barred from returning by authorities, and, well, all that "for my own good" ... ARGH!
 


One of these days I'm going to find this design on a magnet for my microwave.
 

I am suffering from a feeling of betrayal. I was lost and helpless. Though my physical safety was okay (albeit without caffeine because there was no power on the mainland where I was) my mental state was frazzled.
 

It was AWFUL. Thank goodness I have friends. The folks I was staying with were amazed that I received text messages and phone calls all through the night. I am blessed with a circle of friends.
 

 

NOAA kept notching up the height of Irma's impending flood water levels. [Update #46 for Hurricane Irma P-Surge 2.6] The Slosh/Surge report predicted horrible floods everywhere. The Slosh/Surge report predicted horrible floods everywhere. NOAA predicted storm waters between 10' and 15' above ground level in Miami at one point. Ha. I saw a reporter who was standing in ankle deep water on *Brickell Avenue. When I mentioned this to my kidlet she assured me that the water was deeper.

*Brickell runs along the riverfront in downtown Miami.

 

During the night Kidlet and I sent text messages frequently. Here is one of our early morning chats:

7:39 a.m. Me: They lied to us. I am fine and very mad with lying media. Fifteen feet of water in Miami turned out to be ankle deep on Brickell Avenue down by the river. Liars and media hype shysters. Argh.

7:39 Kidlet: Where are you? Who lied? And it was more than ankle deep in Brickell. I saw at least a foot.

7:50 Me: If so, the reporter was in a pothole.

 

As you can tell, I'm becoming frazzled. All night I've worried about Seaweed. I read the NOAA Surge reports and based my decision to leave on them. At this point I still think I can return home without delay.

Life is about to get worse. J.

And please note I'm not normally so irate. Nobody, at least not me, is at their best when under stress. I am not proud of my texts. Still, this is real world, and I'm not sugar-coating my distress. Irma was a pivotal moment in time for me. The whole fiasco was dreadful and I don't ever want to feel that way again...

 

This is the picture ↓ Kidlet sent proving that Miami had more than ankle deep water downtown.

Though no where near 10' to 15', it might be knee deep.

 


The pressure to leave my Seaweed was intense. When the next door neighbor guaranteed we could return the next morning I agreed to leave. From the moment I said yes I regretted saying so. My stomach was in knots and I was beside myself with regret. I should have listened to my gut.


A good friend had offered a place for us to stay. It was a cement block house and therefore safe from storm winds. That was very kind of him. I was told the house was just a mile from Seaweed. I knew that I could walk home from that distance should there be any nonsense about returning quickly due to trees down in the roads. And we had the Emergency Access Permit which was supposed to allow us to go home ASAP.
 

This is the Magic Admittance placard, aka Emergency Access Permit. It was all a lie.


We were not permitted back on the beach.
This deputy sheriff ↓ is prohibiting yet another person from returning home.

The deputy said it was "too dangerous" and that downed power lines could electrocute us.
 

OF COURSE THE POWER LINES WERE DOWN.
In the town I'm in, all the electric lines are buried beneath the ground.

 

There is another excuse, written on the back of the Magic Permit that didn't let us in:


It says:
"BE PATIENT. Access to affected areas will be controlled. You won't be able to return home until search and rescue operations are complete and safety hazards, such as downed power lines, are cleared. It may take 2 to 4 weeks before utilities are restored."


FERTILIZER. Totally 100% garbage. We were told 200 Emergency First Responders were staying at a resort on the beach. So it's perfectly safe for them, but not us. We who have assets and motivation to take care of our stuff are prohibited from returning. To say I was DOGGONE unhappy would be the understatement of the century.

Leaving the beach was a HUGE mistake.

And believe you me, I was not the only irate individual...
 


Skipper was watching the traffic jam too. It was ridiculous and the populous was not amused.


My faith in government Emergency Management was shattered. For the record I do not blame the frontline deputies who were just spouting what they were told to say.

Watching some cars and trucks being allowed to cross the bridge did not help my sense of humor. Had those of us with the passes been allowed to return immediately, the frustration and anger I witnessed would not have occurred.
 

I did not hear one person say "Gosh, it's good to be safe and secure in the hot sun with no electricity while government so-and-so's keep us away from our homes." Instead I listened while men and women swore they'd never again leave their residences.
 

The next time a mandatory evacuation is ordered the majority of those folks will not leave. Our faith and trust were betrayed. We have long memories. I know I won't leave my home again. That is because promises were not kept.
 

Fool me once, your fault. Fool me twice, my fault.


The thing is, back in 1998 the Florida Keys had a mandatory evacuation order for a hurricane. We were all promised immediate access after the storm had come through. Then it was "too dangerous" and nobody was allowed back.

Now those that stayed, they were right happy with the services provided. Those kept out were not!

I swore then I would never leave my home. Then, well, this time I was "assured" with the Emergency Access Permit I could return immediately. First thing in the morning sounded about right. By then the threatened surge would have passed and so too, the storm. Instead, I got broken promises.

A lot of the lies were broadcast by the over-hyped media brats who lack the veracity of a two year old child caught with their hand in the cookie jar. They spew the government lies, and tell us we are all safe because of their diligence. Bah humbug. And there was a lot of humbug!

I'm a little more than miffed as you can tell from the preceding paragraph. This is real life though. I am not always a wonderfully patient person. Sometimes I've had Plenty. This was one of those times. J.
 

 

Now about that surge? Want to see it?!? Sure you do.

Here's the "surge" at Cheryl's house.est

 

← Alchemy as the water drains from the bay.
 


Alchemy, Island Time and
Youroumei after the storm.
 

Cheryl and her husband Fred own Island Time. They were smarter than I was. They did not evacuate.

 


Instead of the dreadful storm surge the experts predicted, we had extremely low tides. The water was sucked out of the bays. Extraordinarily low water levels were experienced up and down the Gulf coast of Florida.


This is the beach at John's Pass. Cheryl confessed that she had never had the beach all to herself, until Irma.

A lot more of the sand was exposed due to the extremely low tides.
 

JOHN'S PASS is a channel into the
Gulf *ICW from the Gulf of Mexico.

*ICW: Intracoastal Waterway
CARRABELLE, Florida is where I met Cap'n Kim.


The Apalachicola Bay by Carrabelle normally looks like this:


 

 

Effects of Hurricane Irma on Apalachicola Bay:

 


Beachcombers enjoyed exploring the flats exposed by Hurricane Irma.

Photos by Cap'n Kim.


 

I've taken Seaweed across the bay where these photos were taken.

It's a mite too shallow right now!

 

This is the view of Apalachicola Bay, back to normal the day after the storm.

 


We were fortunate in that the storm surge never happened here. I do feel for those who were inundated with flood waters. Hurricane Harvey in Texas comes to mind...

Here the meteorologists got it all wrong.

Yes, I realize I "had it good" when compared with others who were prohibited from returning for a much longer duration. Being away from my Seaweed and not knowing her fate was traumatic. The aggravation of not being allowed back promptly contributed to this overwhelming feeling of despair and anger.
 

Date: 30 September 2017. Hurricane Irma (part 4)


Getting ready for a major hurricane is never easy. Knowing when to trust the broadcasters is problematic at best. Sometimes newsmen get it right and other times predictions are way off the mark. Listening to television live on YouTube was a new experience for me. Additionally there was one website that struck a home run as far as hurricane information was concerned.
 

Mike's Weather Page: http://spaghettimodels.com


Spaghetti Models has an aggregate of storm information. Each link opens in a new tab. The page continually refreshes itself. All in all, when I wanted to see where Irma was, how the storm surge was for my area, winds, tracks, the cone of doom, all of that and more could be found from one link. I'd recommend adding Mike's Weather Page aka Spaghetti Models to the bookmarks on your computer.

 

 

My friend Tom on S/V Gone Tropic had another method of verifying news reports. It was far smarter than I my own media-based information. Tom's way of confirming what was being broadcast was to look at webcams in the areas that were effected.

When the newsmen were saying how awful it was in Key West, Tom was watching people walking down Duval Street (downtown Key West) drinking beer.

This is Tom:

 

I did a quickie Google search for webcams in Key West. Here are a few for your convenience:

 

Old-timers are a skeptical bunch. I rather like that!


In the future I'll look for webcams. Though they won't work when the power goes out, until then I will be able to contrast what is shown on television versus on-the-scene from locals.

 

During Hurricane Irma I was able to watch television broadcasts via YouTube
on a tablet. That was a whole new experience for me, and rather nice at that!


Back in 1993 the children were arguing about a television program I did not want to watch. To solve the problem I unplugged the TV. Then I carried it next door. Lo and behold, those folks could use an extra television. Problem solved.

My feeling is if I would not invite you into my home, I am surely not going to allow you to come aboard Seaweed via a television screen. I guard my happiness. Joy is precious and I do all I can to maintain a high level of contentment.

 



Back to storm preparations:
If flood waters are expected the lines on your boat cannot be too short, nor can they be too long. They must be long enough to account for the rising tides. The lines should not be so lengthy that you'll bang into anything near you when the lines are slack.

I know I was physically exhausted by the time I had Seaweed ready. Fortunately I have a good supply of food aboard. I also topped off my water tank. I was going to be a-okay aboard my boat.
 

Then I left. We all know hindsight is 20/20. Now that it has been a few days I realize more of my errors in judgment. Besides reading NOAA's Surge report [Update #46 for Hurricane Irma P-Surge 2.6] and trusting its veracity, I also failed in another manner. I did not follow what old mariners in coastal regions have learned over the years.
 

There were no seabirds flying inland. None.


I am well aware this system cannot be considered scientific. It is based on lore handed down through generations of mariners and decades of personal observation.

That said, from the time I was a little girl we judged storms by the seabirds. Seeing frigatebirds flying inland was a sure-fire sign that a big storm was incoming. Getting to safe harbor was Very Important. Frigatebirds spend much of their lives at sea. When they decide the weather is too foul, it is going to be bad. Very, very bad.
 

 

Aboard Seaweed, I have one book that I use for identifying birds. It is a smaller Golden Guide, called Birds of North America. This is my only bird reference book. It is worth retail prices.
 

 Birds of North America: A Guide To Field Identification (Golden Field Guide Series) ← affiliate link

These are FRIGATEBIRDS

Note the forked tail feathers.

 


I saw no frigatebirds flying inland this time in my location. I saw them for Hurricanes Andrew, Ivan and Katrina. Here in St. Pete there were no frigatebirds seen by me prior to Hurricane Irma's arrival. From that I should have realized that either the trajectory or intensity were not what the news stations were saying, at least for my area.
 


Note Seaweed tucked in close to the mangroves.


I pulled Seaweed even closer into the mangroves the day before Irma arrived.


Of late I have been fortunate enough to be rafted behind a reader's house on the treasure coast. Honest to goodness, it is right spiffy here. Even though the area is snazzy I have the most fun exploring nearby coves and anchorages. I prefer remote places with lots of wildlife.

When I get back underway in a week or so (I am waiting on a some eBay and Amazon indulgences) I will miss the nice friends I've made here. The Gulf coast really is a wonderful cruising area. I like the green waters too.
 

Gus is one of the new friends I made here. He lives in the mangroves.

The birds Gus, Buddy, Ella and Isis made it through the hurricane. All have been back for their hotdog treats.
 

In coastal areas folks who live in houses had work to do too. Older beach houses often have solid wood furniture. One friend removed the bottom drawers and placed them atop her dressers. This is a lot of work. Muscles that folks didn't know existed, ached! Had there been flooding this idea is one with merit.
 

Storm preparations for those of us in coastal areas means
a variety of things. Some folks raise their stuff off the floor.

 

After the work was done, a walk on the beach was in order for Cheryl and her husband Fred.

This is the virtually deserted beach at John's Pass just prior to Hurricane Irma's arrival.

As for me, that beach looks just about perfect. Back when dinosaurs walked the earth and I was just a young boat brat, beachcombing was a favorite hobby. I collected seashells. Lots of them! I keep my collection on beaches of the world. Perhaps you've seen some of them?!?
 

Other folks who own property on the peninsula decided to sandbag their houses. Trust me when I say sandbagging is not for the old. I cannot even suggest it for the young unless in far better physical condition than me! I did it once decades ago and that was plenty. Filling the bags is backbreaking. Hoisting them when filled is not easy. All in all, this is one of those things worth hiring out.

I put sandbagging right in there with sanding the bottom of my boat. There are some jobs that belong to the young. I am not young anymore.
 

Post storm I was surprised by how long it took me to feel like myself again. I'm just now getting back to normal. I have been sleeping much longer than usual. My get up and go, got up and went.
 


Going to my bunk so early, sometimes even in daylight, was a real change for me.


This worn-out feeling has been shared with phone friends. The most comforting part is that it seems rather universal in those of us over fifty. I won't name names, however almost every gal and guy I have spoken at length with has mentioned the same exhaustion.

One fellow went so far as to say he never wanted to be in a hurricane's path again. Years ago I viewed storms as a common occurrence with just a bit of extra work thrown in. Now hurricanes are major life events.

I know that getting older is not for sissies. When the realization that you're no longer young knocks you on your transom, it's a bit of a shock. At least it was for me! I'm not invincible. I get tired. I've had plenty. Etc.


The barometer continued to fall as Hurricane Irma approached.

Cheryl has a weather glass and the fluid level fell. A low level indicates foul weather is impending.


During the night I was in contact with friends near and far via Text Messaging.
Side note: T-Mobile service failed. Verizon had good coverage and zero outages.


YouTube and the news channels broadcasting live were helpful. If only they had been accurate... Staying informed help me keep what little sanity I had remaining.
 

 

It is interesting to note how low the water went as far away as Apalachicola and Carrabelle.

 

APALACHICOLA and CARRABELLE are located on the panhandle of Florida.

 

The Carrabelle River

Marina view, extreme low tide.

Taken at 0400, 11 September during Irma.

 

Apalachicola Bay, just before Hurricane Irma arrived.

The Apalachicola Bay after Irma passed through

 

 

In the morning I like others drove to the bridge by my McDonald's to go home. I was filled with hope and a renewed sense of "there's work to do, and I want to get at it" ... also in there was the desire to have coffee. In the "safe house" there was no power. Argh.
 

Trust me when I say I am far more pleasant and easy to get along
with when well caffeinated. Others will attest to this fact too.
 

Unfortunately residents were not allowed back home, regardless of the Emergency Access Permit we all had. Outrage followed. Men who have served in wars are generally cantankerous when lied to. As we had been promised an early return the later in the day it became, the more surly those waiting became.
 

This is the Emergency Access Permit.


On the mainland where I was stuck there was no electricity. Even if grid was not functioning for the houses on the beach, I have power aboard Seaweed. Only I could not get to her. That broke my spirit. I have food, water, Skipper toys, my stuff, and my life aboard the boat. I was beyond livid, especially when we were PROMISED and immediate return.

Lies. Lies and more lies. The whole process was to get people off the island. It worked. I would not put a lot of money on the cooperation of residents in future Mandatory Evacuation Orders though...
 


Seaweed nearing McDonald's last summer.


At the local McDonald's that I usually visit by boat there was quite a crowd of geezers. There were shouts questioning the parenthood of the patrolmen prohibiting us from returning home. Apparently old people are scary to armed officers because soon there were seven cruisers present, up from four.

Incidentally, I do consider myself a geezer. I've lived a good life. My grey hair nets me Senior Discounts and I like a bargains. When I'm being Prim and Proper, I call myself Vintage.

Telling men who fought in wars that it is too unsafe for them to return home is not conducive to a happy group. I heard many say they would NEVER LEAVE again. I understand that totally. We were promised an immediate return. That was a lie.


This is the life I love:

 

You see, years ago after going through weeks without power ashore (post Hurricanes Ivan and Katrina) I swore that my life afloat would be totally self-sufficient. I wanted my dreamboat to be comfortable 100% off-the-grid. Additionally I continually strive for a life that is decadent. Believe me, I don't suffer aboard Seaweed. She's home, she's perfect and I love this boat.

Well-meaning friends simply don't get it when they say to evacuate. They speak of "a boat can be replaced" not understanding that Seaweed is not just a boat. She's home, she's my life, she's freedom and independence. She is more than a hull with my stuff aboard her.

Seaweed is my joy. Pressuring me to leave achieved the result desired. The cost though is one I won't soon forget. I hate that I chose to leave Seaweed. That was a HUGE mistake on my part. I won't make it again.
 

My Seaweed generates her own power via solar panels. I have all the comforts of home aboard her.

There is instant coffee, both flavored and regular. Enjoying a cup is a wonderful break in time.
It allows me to remember past joys and contemplate further adventures. I like this stuff!
 

In the meantime I knew that there was power on the beach. Though I was stuck on the mainland my friend Cheryl had all the comforts of home. Indeed, she was home because she was smart enough to stay there. She perked a fresh pot of coffee and had the welcome mat out. On the "safe" side, no electric, no open McDonalds's, a closed Village Inn diner, no convenience stores opened, no restaurants serving, and NO COFFEE.

Texting friends and checking on folks became an outlet. I did not know if my girl was okay at this point so I was beyond frantic to return. I did not know if Seaweed had survived.
 

I knew Alchemy had experienced low water and wondered if Seaweed was floating properly.

Note the Great Blue Heron near the forward windows. She's staying out of the winds.
 

What was worst of all was not knowing how my Seaweed had fared. I was frantic with worry. I was beyond angry at myself for caving to people banging on me to leave, be safe, etc. I went from comfort to a place with no electricity, no caffeine and Armed officers who refused to honor the promises made just 24 hours earlier.


Heck, we were originally told we could return at eleven, then one, and finally at 4 p.m. Ridiculous. Totally 100% fertilizer. Now that is not to say that all of the beach is fine and has power. Some does not. There are trees down and locals getting things taken care of -- at least those that were smart enough not to leave.


Cheryl and Fred ↓ stayed. They are smarter than I was.

 

Text messages became my connection with the world.
 

To fully understand the state of my mind, with permission I've copied below some of the text messages that were sent and received for the duration of Hurricane Irma. If by the end of this you still believe "We're from the government and we are here to help you" I cannot help but wonder about your sanity. Mine is intact, barely after the fiasco.
 

If you'd like to skip this part, simply know this: I am never at my best without caffeine. Not being allowed to promptly return to my Seaweed is another sure-fire way to earn my wrath.


 

Throughout the night I exchanged texts and received phone calls. The folks I was staying with had no idea I knew so many people. Ding. Ding. Ring. It was wonderful. At least I thought so. 


12:40 a.m. 11 September 2017 to Kidlet from Me: All is well. No power in this place but power is on on the island. My friend Cheryl stayed. Everything is okay. Windy but fine and no flooding. Tide is still way down. RE: Check in



 

12:54 from Cheryl to Me: Water is beginning to come in again, boats starting to float off bottom. Wind direction changing but still very strong gusts.
Me: Glad you're getting water under the keels again. With the winds the boats will be better afloat. Thank you for keeping me in the loop. No electric here. Bah humbug.

1:01 from Cheryl to Me: Really you should be asleep!
Me: Not a chance. I am worried sick about my home and won't rest until I am back where I belong.
 


4:15 a.m. to Kidlet from Me: Okay. Now no power. Reading my kindle. Going home in morning.  So surge did not happen. Surprise surprise. I love my Kidlet. RE: Check in

6:15 a.m. From Me: Good morning. We are relaxing and going to McDonald's for coffee soon. All is well except no power here. How are you. RE Check in.
6:15 a.m. From Kidlet: Is McDonald's open? I doubt it

(it wasn't open)
 

This is the road in front of Publix (grocery store) and McDonald's. Both businesses were closed.

There was no electricity at the McDonald's and Publix shopping center.
 



 

 

As the hurricane approached Florida I heard from a lot of boaters. It was quite heartening to receive notes from so many old friends. We checked on each other. Plans on how to protect our vessels were discussed. Boats were moved to safer locations.
 

Hearing how another person manages their storm preparations is useful. No one person can know it all so we learn from each other. I like that.


Larry was one of the folks who sent a text message to me.
 

You met  Larry and his bride Eva in the
 
Imaginary Friends IRL (in real life) article.

 

 

Larry: *Bucky is behind her residence, probably the most protected place on Longboat Key, but when you're on an island, protection is vulnerable too. We've got two places here on the island, Eva is in Germany, and I've got two cats to worry about. I guess by Thursday we all know how much trouble we're in.

*Bucky is Larry and Eva's 36' Manatee.

Me: I have found fetch to be the most worrisome aspect.  Here the *McMansions have blocked wind. There is one large mangrove behind Seaweed so pulling her into it will be on the agenda at the last minute. Oh, and getting a new battery for Algae for her automatic bilge pump. I have been bailing and that has already gotten old. I am spoiled Larry. I hope Eva is having a nice time and missing you too. Take care and keep safe. Like you I will be watching the storm track.

*McMansions are the new oversized homes that are replacing the more modest family home of yesteryear.

 


More text messages from 11 September:

8:39 Larry: Janice: You still here? Don't know about Bucky yet.  Can't get on Key.
Me: Lying government tells us the same. I never should have left. The line of fertilizer is they are assessing because of downed power lines. Larry the lines over on the beach are buried. The neighbor has power and a fresh pot of coffee.

8:43 Larry: Where is Seaweed parked?
Me: Same place, pulled back to the mangroves. She is tied off well and spider webbed in. I am so beyond angry. We were assured we could come back with via fancy pass. They lied just like in the 90's for the hurricanes in the Florida Keys.  Folks left the first storm and then never again. We were assured we could get back by a local politician. He was wrong.

8:55 Larry: Well, the thing that tortures me is that IF Bucky is damaged and I can't get there in time to save it, I'm gonna be angry. I never have had such tension and stress over a storm.
Me: Ditto twofold. And I knew better Larry. This same thing as those hurricanes so many years ago. And we were assured a different scenario. Never will I leave.
 

Just heard from my smart neighbor who stayed. Seaweed is fine. Cheryl sent a picture of my girl.

Cheryl's text: She's waiting for you but said don't worry she's fine...

 


When I got the picture from Cheryl of my home I cried. The emotional strain had been HUGE. Not knowing Seaweed's fate was terrible. Then not being allowed to return... It was all too much. There was such relief seeing my Seaweed I cannot even begin to describe it. 

Leaving home was a huge mistake. The stress and worry took a large toll on me. I feel like I aged a dozen years in a single day. The whole Irma fiasco truly was awful.
 

Thank goodness my Seaweed survived intact. I was blessed.
 


I told Larry about the good news regarding Seaweed.

9:10 from Larry: What a relief!
Me: I will continue to pray for your Bucky. She's got so much of you in her... truly a beautiful gal. And that transom door is a thing of beauty.
9:15 from Larry: Thanks Janice. There was no real surge, but the storm blew all the water out of Sarasota Bay, leaving my canal almost empty. I'm hoping that there was no damage to the bottom, preventing it from refloating.
 

 

Boat owners invest a great deal of ourselves into our vessels. We personalize and tweak them. Even factory fresh models soon thereafter are changed, added to and enhanced. These things make each boat unique.

The care, time and money we put into our boats drive up their intrinsic value. Most of my net worth is in this boat. It is the same for many live-aboard boaters. We don't have anything else to fall back on so when our boats are in peril, it's Serious.

Not knowing the fate of my Seaweed was DREADFUL!!!

 


9:15 To Kidlet from Me: The electric here is flickering. On Seaweed there is power. In case you wondered. RE: You're where you need to be
9:15 from Kidlet: You're the most stubborn woman
9:16 from Me: Thank you and the acorn doesn't fall far from the tree young lady. RE: You're the most stubborn woman




 

 

This is Buddy.

I worried about him during Hurricane Irma.

I ached to be home. I'd seen a photograph so I knew my boat was okay. That was a huge relief.
 

And too, I wanted to be sure my birds all made it through the storm okay. Buddy is a little guy. He's still a teenager.

The night herons have a hierarchy and Buddy is definitely low bird. I make sure he gets his ration of hotdogs every day.

He was the first to eat hotdogs and Buddy is a bit too brave. The older larger males took a while to trust me.
 

They are going to miss me when I head out.

 


9:30 to Irene on Katja from Me: Lying government won't let us return because they are assessing downed power lines. All power lines are buried. I am stuck on the mainland and so mad you cannot imagine
9:35 Irene: Shoot!
9:37 Me: Amen. RE: Shoot!
9:38 Irene: First word that came to mind after an actual visceral reaction. Your worst fear
9:39 Me: It is. I am holding on by a thread and it is frayed.


 

10:05 To Kidlet from Me: The government still won't let us cross the bridge because of downed power lines. All the power lines are down. They are buried. Lies lies lies. So mad. Never leaving my girl again. And they have coffee over there. Power went out at safe place we stayed at last night at quarter past twelve. There is power on the beach. My girl friend took a picture of Seaweed. She needs a bath. Lots of little branches on her solar panels. RE: Check in
10:11 from Kidlet: So you know she's okay. Good.
 


 

10:08 to Cheryl from Me: Thank you very much. Come get us. We are stranded at McDonalds's and McDonald's is closed. We have had no coffee and are getting cranky. I am so relieved my girl is okay. I have been terrified. Thank you more than you can know


Cheryl: Wish we could come get you but we'd all be stranded. This is the Citgo  by Conch Republic


Me: Thank you again for the picture of Seaweed. A load was taken off my mind. I still want to be home and learned my lesson. Never leave. That Citgo sign is great. There will be an article. Photos by Cheryl. ;)

10:50 Me: Cops are letting some in over the bridge but not us. Only three vehicles so far
10:51 Cheryl: Bay News 9 says they will be opening the beaches within a couple hours



 

Side Note: T-Mobile is down. Only Verizon has coverage.
 


11:17 to Larry from Me: Any word on your Bucky? I have seen a picture of Seaweed with a lot of small branches. She is afloat and missing me! No damage visible. I wish the same for you.
Larry: Nothing yet. Just sitting here suffering! Even worse would be that my Bucky is suffering!
11:30 Me: Exactly. And next storm the evacuation order will not be as appealing. I have relearned a lesson. We are still locked out. BAY 9 News said beaches would be opened in one hour.



 

This is Edwin:

 

11:31 from Edwin: Give me good news
11:34 Me: Seaweed is fine and I am stuck on mainland because government won't let us across the bridge onto the beach. Some people are special. They get to go but our fancy passes are totally worthless at this point. And there is power over there, including coffee. I am suffering without my tea or coffee. Caffeine is necessary for my personality improvement.



 

My friend Lynn on In Ainneoin gave a report in the morning as to her boat. It is in the St. Marys Boat Services boatyard. She said:  Dave and the cat are good but I woke him up and he hasn't looked out yet. Two tornado warnings overnight but they didn't touch down. No power of course but that could just be the yard power. Waiting to hear from you as soon as you can.
I told her my tale of woe regarding broken promises and being stuck on the mainland.

11:54: from Lynn on In Ainneoin: Hey wait. Are you not on Seaweed? What did I miss?
Me:  I was an idiot and believed the surge reports for the peninsula. Never ever again.
 


 

12:08 p.m. to Kidlet from Me: My friend on Longboat Key still can't get on his island. He doesn't know if his boat survived. Yet.
12:15 Kidlet: I'll pray :( where is Longboat Key?
12:16 Me: South of here by about one hour.
12:36 Kidlet: Wow.  It was bad there too.



 

The natives were getting ugly. We wanted to go home!!!


12:53 Me to Larry: The geezers on Madeira Beach are near revolting. It is getting ugly. People want to go home.
Larry: Still no info on Bucky. This is absolute torture.
Me: Not knowing is impossible. Someone with a boat could make a Fortune. There are a lot of angry volatile geezers here.

1:27 Larry:  Bucky appears to still be tethered and level according to a neighbor.
Me: Wonderful. I know that must be such a relief. Congratulations.
 


 

Between 1:30 and 4 o'clock I basically sat in a truck reading my Kindle and stewing. By then the phone calls and texts were tapering off. I lost myself in a book while waiting.

At 4 p.m. the beaches were finally opened to all. The lines were tremendous. Eventually I made it back to my girl. Gosh it was good to be home.
 

Having a picture of Seaweed made the day survivable.
Just being able to see her was a big boost to my moral.


All those hours of not knowing how my Seaweed was faring were the absolute worst. I left and should not have done so.

I did not want to leave my Seaweed. I'd experienced a bunch of bureaucratic liars previously. In 1998 the authorities promised if we left the Florida Keys for Hurricane Georges as the mandatory evacuation ordered, we would be let back in ASAP. That was a damned lie.

All the previous not withstanding, I am most angry with myself. I knew better. The rage expressed toward Emergency Management more accurately ought to be pointed directly at me. I was wrong to leave my home.
 

 

The boys (my birds) were glad I returned safe and sound.

 

This is Grumpy Gus.
He is not nice to Buddy.


This is Ella waiting for her hotdogs.

Ella is a Great Blue Heron. I named her after Ella Fitzgerald who sang the blues... She's a blue heron singing the blues. There are three blue herons though they come individually for the most part.

 

 
Though I have been on a rant in this article, this is real life. Boating is not all sunsets and iced beverages at anchor in remote coves.

 


 


 

Yes, I moaned and groaned... and then I went looking for an appropriate Aphorism. Each article, after the Comments and Categories section (scroll down) has an Aphorism. I've collected those posted thus far onto the Aphorisms page. Today's though, well, I needed to read it again. This one really puts into perspective Life.

I need to be more like Tom.
 

 

It was little wonder that Tom seemed all but immune to being bothered by small vexations. A tedious assignment at work? A football game to cover in a blizzard? A late-night shift followed by an early-morning wakeup call? Please. He had seen worse. He could always know: No one could throw anything at him as tough as what he, and the soldiers of D-Day with whom he had served, had seen when they were young. They were constantly among us, once upon a time. They moved among us, and they elected to keep their pasts invisible. They were, in every sense of the phrase, men among men. Forever.

by Bob Green, regarding Tom Pastorius, member of 101st Airborne Division from Canton, OH who parachuted behind enemy lines on Utah Beach.

 


Did Hurricane Irma impact you?
How and what did you do to prepare for the hurricane?

COMMENTS:
 

2017

Categories: Boat Talk, Boats, Books, Characters, Gear, Locations, Pets, Recommendations, Security, Wild Things,

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The Archive holds a running list with synopsis of published articles, and links to same.

A favorite aphorism:  It was little wonder that Tom seemed all but immune to being bothered by small vexations. A tedious assignment at work? A football game to cover in a blizzard? A late-night shift followed by an early-morning wakeup call? Please. He had seen worse. He could always know: No one could throw anything at him as tough as what he, and the soldiers of D-Day with whom he had served, had seen when they were young. They were constantly among us, once upon a time. They moved among us, and they elected to keep their pasts invisible. They were, in every sense of the phrase, men among men. Forever.

by Bob Green, regarding Tom Pastorius, member of 101st Airborne Division from Canton, OH who parachuted behind enemy lines on Utah Beach.

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