Jan 252015

Yesterday we had one of those wonderful cold fronts come through the Keys.  During the winter it works basically like this.  A cold front comes down from the hinterlands and sweeps across the Gulf of Mexico.  It’s easy to trace on radar because it forms a long line of intense rain and thunderstorms.  Ahead of the front, it’s warm, sunny, the way things are suppose to be.  Behind it is cold temps and high winds.  Said front will come down sweep across Florida and the Keys and then head back out to sea.  Behind it we get about 2 to 3 days of cold and wind.  It’s not much but when you are used to 80 degrees and suddenly it’s in the low 60’s, and all you have to wear are shorts and thin fishing shirts, well, it’s cold.

Saturday was one of those days with a cold front.  This one looked bad at first.  It appeared we would get slammed with some serious rain and storms but by the time the leading edge hit Key West most of the rain was south.  So we only got a smattering of rain.  But then the winds kicked up big time.  Small craft advisories were issued and by noon we had 25 knot winds with gusts to 35 coming out of the north and north west.

Here in the marina we are well secluded from the winds, unless they are coming out of the north and north west.  Even tied up to the dock my little yacht was bouncing around pretty good.  I looked out towards the bay to the north and it was all white caps.  I had to go to the store that afternoon so I grabbed the bus in and checked out the water coming in through Cow Key and it was running like a river.  On the way back the bay, right where I plan to moor was choppy as hell.  There were several boats including the houseboat that will be my neighbor bouncing around pretty good.  But, I noticed something missing.  There used to be a second houseboat, only recently anchored out there in the line.  The owner supposedly were renting it out on AirBNB.  Said houseboat was no longer there.  I assumed that it had left.  I had assumed wrong.

When the bus crossed Cow Key bridge I looked north and there was the houseboat, with dinghies dangling, sitting smack in the middle of the channel about 200 yards north of the bridge.  It had obviously dragged it’s mooring and was now effectively blocking a narrow channel and potentially heading for a not pleasant encounter with the bridge.  I don’t know what happened after that.  I sent an email to a friend who works in law enforcement and left it at that.  The boat appeared to be deserted so I don’t know if the owner is aware of how much trouble he could be in.  Unsecured mooring, navigational hazard.  I don’t even want to think what would happen if he hit and damaged the bridge.  And yes, it did give me pause.

This is not an uncommon occurrence.  Many who live on the hook simply drop an anchor or two, and think they will be fine.  Nature proves otherwise.  Once particular small sailboat about my size anchors in the bay off North Roosevelt and he seems to drag all the time.  Aside from the dangers of running aground or into something, said anchor tears up the bottom included protected grasses.  The for which is about $100 per foot of destroyed grass.  Many fail to take into account how heavy their boat is and how strong the wind and currents can be.

So, that’s one more thing to worry about.  The mooring I will be on is the one currently holding the houseboat, (the one that stays put).  Since my boat is significantly lighter, I should hold still.  I just have to make sure my lines are good.  But no matter how strong your mooring and lines are, when one of these fronts come through and winds blow, it ain’t fun.  It don’t last too long but can seem a lifetime.  We like to think that the weather is good for sailing or being out on the water all the time.  For the most part it is.  But, we get small craft advisories every week, even without the fronts.  When winter ends, which will essentially be in a couple of weeks down here, the thunderstorm season kicks in.  And of course, for half the year we are on hurricane watch.

When you are on land, most of these weather systems are an inconvenience.  Tourists sit in the bars and drink if they can’t go play on the water.  Everyone else just deals with it.  When you live on the water, it’s quite different.   You are acutely aware of the weather at all times no matter if you are tied up at the dock or crossing over to the Bahamas.  And I will admit without shame right now, I am a fair weather sailor.  I hate going out in choppy or windy conditions.  I am perfectly content to sit on shore and watch the waves crash.  But pretty soon, I may not have a choice in the matter.  I may not be paying out a lot of money for rent, but I will lose the relative security of the slip I have been tied up too.

In other news, I dropped by the Sprint store and took a look at their hotspot devices.  They have what I want and as soon as I get some more clarity I will get one.  That should take care of the internet issues.  I still have to try and fix the computer.  It will not run on battery and I’m going to try a full reset tomorrow and see if that fixes the problem.  I hate to drop money on a new battery and find it’s not the issue.  I also looked at the iPad mini which will do fine for most of what I need, but I still can’t code.  And being able to build apps is going to be key to whatever I do no matter if I wind up on the mooring or elsewhere.  My paid app sales seem to have picked up ever so slightly over the last couple of months which is encouraging.  I really want to make the app gig pay off.  It’s something I enjoy as much as anything I’ve done over the past few years.  So keeping the computer or replacing it will be a priority.  Assuming I get the computer fixed, then I have to figger out a way to charge the damn thing.  I’ve hit on some solutions that should do the trick for not a whole lot of money.  But all in due time.

As for the boat, if I do wind up out there, getting a motor will also have priority.  The sooner I get self propelled, the more better my options will be as to where to stay.  It will all work out.  But yesterday’s weather was a not nice reminder of the downside of being out there all alone, against the fearsome, cold, unforgiving sea.  With sea monsters, pirates, and hidden dangers of unspeakable horror.

Still beats working a fucking parts counter all day.

Capt. Fritter


  One Response to “Living Aboard: A Reminder Of What May Be…”

  1. well.
    the mooring sounds like a dream come true.