Dec 162014

One of my neighbors and his girlfriend live on an old houseboat that they have been fixing up, pretty much ever since I have lived at this marina.  Seems every other day they are bring in a load of lumber and other construction materials for the inside which I’m guessing by now must have a basement, wine cellar, bowling alley, spa, and who knows what else.  No matter, but the girlfriend was out painting the outside of the boat over the last couple of days.  It’s looking fine and all but on the bow, that’s the front end, there is a small deck with an overhang, sort of like a porch on a land house.  I made a suggestion that she should paint the ceiling of said porch, haint blue, as is traditional here in Key West.  She, being from up north somewhere, had no idea what I was talking about.  So here is the ‘splaination.

Haint Blue is a tradition in the south and here in Key West.  It’s a light greenish blue color that is painted on the ceilings of porches, patios, and other outside parts of the house.   It has two purposes.  One, because the color matches the sky, bugs, wasps, and other insects will not build nests nor hang out in the ceiling areas.  And B, it wards off evil spirits who may want to come and haunt your place.

Of course, I don’t put any stock in the whole evil spirits bullshit.  Although if it kept my ex girlfriend away, that would add some credence to the myth.  As for the bug angle, who knows.  It may or may not work.  Anyways, if you happen to be walking around the island, take a look at the ceilings of the patios and porches.  All the older and more traditional buildings will have haint blue painted on the ceilings.

I told all this to the neighbor and as you might guess, I got the rolling of the eyes, a condescending smile, and a promise that she would check it out.  In other words, the same reaction any other female gives me when I tell them something.  Few ever believe anything I say, which makes it so much more satisfying when they discover later that I was indeed telling them the truth and now they look like idiots for doubting me.  Then I can lie to them at will and they will have no idea if I’m telling the truth or not.

Being evil has it’s perks.

But, if you happen to have a place down here and it has a porch/patio, and you want to show that you are in tune with the local customs, paint your ceiling haint blue, and keep the bugs and evil girlfriends spirits away.

Capt. Fritter

By the way, if you go to the Home Depot and ask for Haint blue in the paint department, the worker bee will probably give you a blank stare, pick his nose, and summon a manager.  They will have no clue.  In Key West, go to Strunks Hardware.  An old school hardware store.  I suspect they will not only know what you are talking about, but have the paint on hand.

  3 Responses to “Living Aboard: Don’t Haint On The Paint…”

  1. have known and loved the blue ceiling porch for ages. even have had them. and yet never knew it to be called ‘haint’ blue!
    wondering if haint is an old word for haunt? and the link to apartment therapy is one of my favorites.
    you’re showing your coolness here captain. be careful!
    and “being evil has its perks” is a fritterism if ever i heard one. a scary fritterism. but still . . . a fritterism.

  2. I first of Haint blue about 30 years ago on a trip through North Carolina. I was traveling with a friend and we stopped to visit some of his relatives, and they were touching up the porch and mentioned it. I thought it a bit odd but really paid no mind. Then years ago on my first trip to KW, I overheard tourists nearby on the street talking about seeing it on a house earlier and that they would have to try it at home. I have yet to own a house with a real porch to try it out.

    It does kind of leaving you rooting for a wasp nest on that neighbor’s overhang that they blew you off about though, doesn’t it?

  3. I could have used some of that paint last summer. When I was getting ready to head out this fall we opened the passenger door of my van and discovered an occupied wasp’s nest there. Not sure what surface I would have painted, though.