NMC031 Boat Dangers
Recorded: September 8, 2016
Location: Riviera Beach, Florida
Subject: Systems we have created to keep everyone safe when things go wrong in our liveaboard lives.
When people hear that we live on a boat, one of the first things that comes up is fear. People will say, “I could never do that because I would be afraid of ___!” There are lots and lots of things that could fill in that blank. For me, before I moved onto a boat, it would have been “sharks!” And while I still forbid the “S-word” from being uttered in my presence, I realize now that those sea creatures are not worth losing sleep over compared to some of the very real dangers we face in our liveaboard lives.
In this week’s episode I talk about some of the scariest moments we ever had on the s/v Dawn Treader and share some of the systems we created to keep us all safe along the way. The main one—our “Color Code System”—has helped us in our day-to-day lives as parents too.
In the coming weeks we have some exciting new (and by “new” I mean, current day in early 2021) developments that I will share here too. If this interests you, please visit our “crew” page so you can get all the updates. That is at: NewMexicast.com/crew
Thanks for listening! Have a great week and be well everyone!
Lots of love,
P.S. If you enjoyed this podcast and want to learn more, here’s how to:
Join the New Mexi-Castaways Crew
Get the Full Episode Transcript:download the transcript
Rosa Linda Román (00:28): Hello and welcome to New Mexi-Castaways. The enchanting show featuring Rosa Linda's Ramblings and the audio companion to New Mexicast TV show. I'm Rosa Linda Román. I'm the one that does the ramblings. And I think today I'm going to talk a little bit about boats and danger and maybe the scary side of boating. Now, let me back up for a second. If you're new to my podcast, I live on a 45 foot sailing catamaran with three kids, one husband, and one German shepherd puppy. We moved aboard this boat two and a half months ago and it's our second time living on a boat. The first time was about six years ago now. And has it been six years? Yeah, that sounds about right. Six or actually seven years when we first moved aboard. So yeah, we've, we're doing it again. And from the first time we lived on the boat, we developed some systems to help us in situations where they were potentially dangerous or we needed to be able to really focus. Rosa Linda Román (01:41): And we call it our color code system where we immediately give a a command or we, we shout out what color our boat is on. So if our boat is on code green, everybody is free to move everywhere. Talk to anyone, meaning talk to mommy or daddy interact, be wherever it's fine. Code green is safe and good and all is clear. Code yellow means we're in a time of transition or potential danger where we need to be completely focused on the task at hand and the kids need to be out of our way, but they can move about the boat as long as they are not in the way of the captain or myself. Maybe we're docking and we need to be grabbing lines and jumping here and there and doing things; that's code yellow. So the kids know, if we say, "Hey, it's code yellow." Rosa Linda Román (02:37): They can talk to each other. They can go wherever they need to be, but they just need to kind of be mindful and, and also listen for any instructions, cause we might need them to help with things. So that's code yellow. Code orange is the danger code. We are in an emergency situation and we need to have our total focus on the emergency situation and know that the kids are okay. So on a code orange, they are instructed, the kids know to sit on the salon couch on the living room couch as the first choice. If it's a safe, like there's no fire or something like that, but if it's safe, they need to sit their bottoms on the couch. We are in imminent danger or current danger and they need to stay silent and listen for commands and be calm or they could sit like maybe in the, in somewhere else, if that area was not safe. Actually, if the salon wasn't safe, we'd probably be doing code red, which is abandoned ship. Rosa Linda Román (03:45): Right? So generally they sit on the couch. Now, gratefully, we have only had before this week, we've only had two other code oranges. And one of them was, we were in a storm that came up unexpectedly as we were sailing from Fort Lauderdale. I think it was to West Palm Beach and our rudder gave out, I think it was the rudder. And, meanwhile, our guest who was visiting was severely seasick. And my husband had to basically jump overboard to try to get the rudder back in it, I don't know, it disconnected... Something happened. And so we were dead in the water in a storm and it was very, very stressful and dangerous. And we ended up having to be towed in by, I think it was Towboat US. So that was one of the code oranges we've had, that was on the previous boat, Hakuna Matata. Rosa Linda Román (04:44): And then the second one was on the crossing back from The Bahamas. After we had lived in The Bahamas for about five months, we had another unexpected storm come up and it was just, we were getting pounded out of control. And that was a code orange too, just because of the nature of the weather. So that was the, those were the only two until this week until two days ago when we were sitting, I was downstairs on the port side with my daughter Ahava folding clothes. And all of a sudden and Miss Allie, our babysitter was up in the salon area, the living room area helping the kids with some of their schoolwork and Nathan was in the master suite on the starboard side, just, I don't even know, probably doing a business call or working. And all of a sudden we hear "Bam!" Like the loudest crunching, bam hit sound. Rosa Linda Román (05:52): And we, it like threw us Ahava and I, like threw us, like we lurched from this impact. And we screamed, everybody screamed, somebody hit our boat. So we yelled code orange. The kids stayed on the the couch and we Nathan and I ran out to see what the problem was and it was great. I, it wasn't great, but it was, it really was a chance for us to see that we handled an emergency situation very well. And I, by the way, I will tell the spoiler alert, everything is fine now. I mean, not everything is fine, but we are safe. The boat hopefully has, is okay structurally. But yeah, at the moment when that impact happened, basically there was a boat that has been under... It's a brand new boat and they've been adding like radar and all these systems at the Marina that we're at. Rosa Linda Román (06:55): And it was at a slip in front of our boat. Well, like to the side, I should say, in another slip. And then for some reason they decided to move it to the slip in front of us. Well, we're in a really weird end area in this Marina because our boat is very wide, which is called the beam, width of the boat is called the beam. And I think our beam is like 25 feet, maybe more, I don't know it's big. And because of that, we can only be in certain slips or certain areas because we don't fit inside a lot of these slips that are much thinner. So this boat was moving into the slip in front of our boat and we're also, we also happen to be in a position where the tides or the current pushes in against our boat, very, very strongly. Rosa Linda Román (07:53): We are right inside the Lake Worth inlet. If you are familiar with Florida, there's the Lake Worth inlet and Peanut Island right across from the Marina that we're at. And it's pushing that sometimes that current just comes rushing in. So this guy who was part of the crew that is outfitting this new boat was asked to move the boat from the slip that it was in to the one in front of us. Well, I guess as he was trying to, you know, move into his slip, he got pushed toward our boat and the, and his thruster failed. Thruster is like a jet motor, if you will. I, I know I'm terrible with actually describing the actual term. So forgive me for the lack of technical know-how, but basically a thruster on a boat pushes the boat in one direction or the other, and this thruster that should have pushed his boat off of our boat failed. Rosa Linda Román (08:57): And so he slammed into our boat. Luckily his boat is much higher off the water than ours. And the part of his boat that hit, I mean, the part of our boat that was hit was the seat on the forward deck. There's like, so we're a catamaran. So we have two pontoons that come to a peak at the front of the boat, which is called the bow. So the front of the boat has this little seating area, and it's a great place for the kids or anyone to sit when we're underway. Cause you get the little spray from the water at your toes. Sometimes you get soaking wet, but it's really a fun and it's got like railings, so you can hold on and sit comfortably. And yeah, it's, it's a great little spot. Well, that is the part that got hit by the other boat and it wrenched the seat. Rosa Linda Román (09:50): And because the side rail, the metal side rail of our boat was attached to that seat that was ripped out and the seat like the metal part that holds the seat up was wrenched. And that whole part will have to be replaced. The good news is it looks at least initially like it is not there is no actual structural damage it's more superficial. So it was it was a scary experience for all of us, but it was a really good experience for us to have with a positive outcome. Like it was because it gave us a chance to really see what we're made of, you know, I mean, that's, that's the bottom line is I'm sure this is true in every part of life that you want to find out when it's not a, a life-threatening emergency that you have, what it takes to handle an emergency, right? Rosa Linda Román (10:47): You don't want the first time that you realize, you know, wow, we don't really know what we're doing to be when you actually need to know what you're doing. So it was good. It was kind of like a few weeks earlier. Our family went to we, there was a tropical storm heading our way. And so we were forced to secure the boat, figure out what we were going to do about it. And it was a practice run because the hurricane, it actually turned into a hurricane her mind, but it ended, it ended up not going to our area at all and hit like the Tallahassee area and went up the Eastern coast of the United States. And I think it did minimal damage gratefully, but it was good for us because it gave us a chance to see what we're made of and what we need to do and really get our plans in order before heaven forbid there's an actual hurricane coming. Rosa Linda Román (11:45): Okay. So again, it's, it's good to have that experience. It's good to have the chance to get prepared and really see what you're made of. So that was kind of a big deal for us. And it was ironic because this experience with someone hitting our boat happened the day, I think it was the day after we had a really kind of traumatic. It wasn't traumatic to us. We were totally unaffected, really, if you think about it, but it was traumatic knowing we live on a boat, we witnessed a boat sinking. And so let me back up and tell you a little bit about that. So my my husband's cousins live in a building in downtown West Palm beach and they invite us to come and let the kids swim in their rooftop pool, which is wonderful. And the kids have a blast and it's really nice that they let us do that. Rosa Linda Román (12:44): And so we were swimming up there and my husband's cousin's husband came and he was looking over the railing and he said, wow, that boat out there, because you can overload it overlooks the intercoastal of Florida. And then beyond that, you can see Palm beach and the ocean beyond that. So he said, Oh, that boat looks like it's sinking. And I said, I looked and I said, that really does look like it's sinking. Let's let we better look at that. And so we looked and I thought that can't be sinking like right now. And it turned out that the boat that he was talking about was right where my family had spent the 4th of July. And also by the way, New Year's Eve watching the fireworks over our boat, it was right in front of Trump Plaza, which is an area we're very familiar with because my husband's aunt used to live in Trump Plaza. Rosa Linda Román (13:43): And so we would be we would, we were anchored right in front of where this boat that we were now looking at was sinking. Now, granted, we were up on top of, I dunno, like the 15th floor of this building, something like that. So it was hard to see very, very closely and clearly, but I started watching it. I said, this, that's not just like somewhat underwater it starting to sink. And you could see the, the air bubbling up from the cabin. And I mean, it was just, it was to me actively sinking. And I said, I wonder what we should do about that. Excuse me. I said, I wonder what we should do about that. And I called our friend who lives on a boat near us and said, what would you do? Like who do you call? And she suggested we call the, the Marina that we're at. Rosa Linda Román (14:41): And so I tried to call them and they didn't answer. Then I called my husband and he suggested that I called Towboat US cause we're members. Actually I think we're both anyway, I think we're members. So I called them and they asked for some information and they actually did send a boat out to check it out. But while they did that, the boat never came up to this boat. And I really didn't know why, like, you could see it sinking and the towboat us boat didn't didn't approach the boat or, or do anything to try to right. The ship or whatever. So that was like upsetting to me because the kids and I were thinking, well, what if somebody's pets are on board? And they went to dinner, you know, at Clematis street, which is a likely scenario, you would pull up your boat, anchor, take the dinghy over to the dock. Rosa Linda Román (15:35): And then, and then you know, call it a day and it go have some dinner and then come back to your boat only to find it sinking is what we were thinking. And so I actually, because of my broadcasting, this is how I process stuff while I was waiting for towboat us to do something, I decided to go ahead and do some live streaming and share it with my friends so they could see what was going on. So I did the whole thing, recording that. And if you want to see the reports that I did, you can go to Facebook.com/new Mexicast And you can see the kind of the scenario as it played out. So that was the, kind of the first part of the, the, the experience and witnessing that, and then watching the towboat us boat leave. Rosa Linda Román (16:31): And I thought, okay, I did, you know, I did my part, but I still wasn't satisfied. I was like, why aren't they doing anything? And I couldn't figure out in my mind why they just left it there. So eventually I called nine one one and I said, Hey, there's this boat that's sinking out. And, you know, and I described it, they said, Oh, well, you'll have to call the coast guard. I said, can you patch me through? And they said, no, you have to call, you know, here's the phone number. And I'm like, I'm in a bathing suit. Like, you know, so I finally figured out how, you know, took a note and wrote down the number to the coast guard. And I called the coast guard and described it to them. And they said, okay, thank you. And said, they would send someone out. Rosa Linda Román (17:09): Well, they never sent anyone out. And I was, it was just upsetting, like nobody was coming out. It was like, in my mind, this, you know, situation where it was actively sinking and, and nobody cared. And it made me very sad to think that if something was happening to our boat, nobody would even pay attention or do anything. It turns out after that we went to my cousin's house to shower and get cleaned up and we watched the boat a little longer and I just, I couldn't get it off my mind. So we finally went down to the, what do you call it? The doc to explore as we were leaving, we, the kids. And I went down and went down and now by this time it's night. And so we went down to just see if anyone was distraught watching this, or if there's anyone. Rosa Linda Román (18:05): Cause I took video. Cause that's what I do of this boat. And you could see like the water bubbling up from it. And I mean, it, you know, it was, it was intense to watch and I did get video and I thought, well, if this is someone's boat, they would want that footage. So let's go down there and see what we can find. So we went down there and we couldn't find anyone to which the boat belonged or anyone that knew anything until we were about to leave. And we walked up and down the dock to see if we could find anyone. And finally there was a security guard, two security guards there, and we started talking to them and they said, Oh yeah, that boat has been sinking for probably a month and nobody's doing anything about it. And I was like, well, why not? Rosa Linda Román (18:50): I mean, this isn't like, there are some areas where there are derelict boats and that's just, you kind of know that. And just North of there really on peanut Island area, North of peanut Island, there are some areas that some of these boats, people just leave them there and don't care. And once they, you know, realize the insurance isn't gonna pay for it or whatever, they just ditch the boat and leave it, abandon it. But I thought there's no way that's happening here because this is, you know, kind of a fancy area. It's it's the place you would, you would anchor for you know, a very short while, but not like a couple nights maybe, but not long-term and you certainly wouldn't ditch the boat there. Right. But according to this, these security guards, actually, it looks like you would do that. Rosa Linda Román (19:38): And that's what they did. So with that in mind it actually put our mind at ease for the kids and myself. Cause we didn't, we felt bad just leaving it when nobody had done anything. So that explained to me why the coast guard didn't come out. They already knew about the boat and towboat us looked at it and realized it was already something. They probably had looked at it in the past. But I still, it still bothers me that nobody really did anything about it. Like obviously, or not obviously, but I'm assuming that somebody abandoned that boat there, they decided, you know, for whatever reason they weren't gonna bother, you know, hauling it to wherever, wherever they needed it to be and they abandoned it. And so, but it's still upsetting to think that it's just being left there to be destroyed even further. Rosa Linda Román (20:30): I mean, even if there was structural damage under the boat, which clearly there is, there's generally you can, you can salvage a lot of the boat, right. I mean, to have somebody just ditch it and then nobody else like do anything about it. That just seems wrong. Me. but I guess the, for me and for the kids, it was a learning experience. We were glad we did something or tried to do something. And we learned, and we're going to use this as an opportunity to talk about some of the, the laws of the, the waterways and who owns what and how, how that all works, because apparently that's no man's land. Like nobody actually owns that and nor can they own it. And so that's probably why they, they ditched it there. Anyway. Again, if you want to see kind of how that all played out, I probably will put it up on new mexico.com. Rosa Linda Román (21:27): So you can go there if you want, I'm in the process of overhauling that website, which does need an overhaul. So by the time you're hearing this, you can go to New Mexico cast.com and look under the live streaming archives. And you'll find it there that makes it easy. But if you do want to follow my live work and actually see it when I do other future reports, you can go to facebook.com/newmexicast. Boy, I'm all over the place. I know. So yeah, that was an adventure and it's been a week of, of boat sagas. And we've learned a lot and we have a lot to learn. And, and my, if, so my dad's a little bit kind of like and I love you dad, but you know, he's got a bit of an Eyeore side of him, not all the time, but sometimes it feels like, like his car broke down, my mom's car broke down. Rosa Linda Román (22:25): Now my, my boat was hit, you know? And he's just like, to him sometimes. And to a lot of people we know, you know, it's like, Oh, this is just so much bad luck. And I say, well, actually, everybody's safe. We're okay. You know, it's actually, if there is bad luck, if you believe in such things, then it's bad luck with a relatively positive outcome. Right. And I just I say, what I like to say in my superstitious mind is, well, we're getting all the bad luck out of the way, because we do want to, you know, we are going to sale and that is obviously taking risks. And Oh, and I might as well just throw in the last scariest thing that we had actually talk about code orange. This is one we didn't have time to call a code orange, but seriously was the worst moment we ever had on the boat so far. Hopefully it will be the worst moment we ever have on the boat. So let me knock wood. And I'm going to explain that one. When I come back, I got to go check my GPS and make sure I'm on the right path. So just hang tight, I'll be right back. Rosa Linda Román (23:47): Okay. I'm back. I don't think I mentioned this on a past episode, but if I did sorry about the repeat sometimes with this wonderful audio podcast, which allows me to just ramble it probably mirrors conversations I've had with just friends of mine. And so just consider yourself one of my friends, if I'm telling you the same story over again, you can just fast forward past it and know that I appreciate you listening and not embarrassing me for my parents' senility. Anyway, so we were under sail which I don't know if you know about a sailboat, but when you have the sails up and you are under wind power, you're moving on wind power, you have less responsiveness. You can't, you can't move as quickly as you would under a motor, right? Cause you can just kill the motor turn around. Rosa Linda Román (24:50): Plus our boat is pretty big. And so the maneuver maneuverability, like you can't turn on a dime, right? It would take a little bit to turn around. I just want you to know that as I tell you the story so that you can have a heart attack with me because you know, misery loves company. So we were under sail one day. Our family was a beautiful day and we had Miss Allie with us and it was her for, I think it was her first time with us on this unsafe on sale. And we were going about seven knots. Seven knots is almost about as fast as our boat usually goes. There's a few occasions. You can go faster. If the winds are crazy, but it's not necessarily, let me say it's the fastest, we can really go smoothly and comfortably usually, I mean, you can pick up some more knots, but it's rare. Rosa Linda Román (25:47): And it also usually means that you're in some crazy wind and it's probably not very comfortable. So it was a comfortable, sail. Samuel was, we have a rule. So Samuel is five and he has to wear his life vest anytime he's outside the cabin period, when we are underway, that's the rule. And we actually have that rule for all, for all kids under a certain age. And I really think we need the rule for all kids all the time and maybe all adults, right? Because it's just not worth the risk, but for sure, Samuel has to wear his life vest at all times. And he knows that. And he's been really pretty good about wearing his life vest at all times. Well, on this occasion, we were so relaxed under sail. It was so quiet. The engines weren't roaring, and we were sitting up at the helm area and Samuel said to Nathan, I need to go potty. Rosa Linda Román (26:48): Well, his life vest goes like through his legs with those extra strap. And so he asked Nathan to unstrap that one strap and cause it's hard for him to do so Nathan unstrapped it. And then Samuel went down below and Nathan then for some reason also went down below a few, you know, a minute or two later. And so I was at the helm and Nathan came back up and said, "where's Samuel?" I said, "he went to the bathroom." He goes, "I just went down to the bathroom and he's not there." Now. Granted, we have three bathrooms. So I guess he had looked for, he had looked for him and sure enough, we get this like sick, want to throw up, feeling because we look back and we, Oh, I can't even repeat it. Just thinking about it makes me want to like cry. Rosa Linda Román (27:44): We look back and there on the bottom step at the rear of the, at the, after the boat was my dear sweet five-year-old boy who had taken off his life vest completely and was peeing off the back of the boat, which is something that boys do, right. You pee off the back of the boat because you can't, but not without a life vest and not while we're underway. The little boy was about two inches from death because if we had hit a bump, a wave, he would have gone over and we would not have known until maybe it would have been too late. He did not have a life vest on. Yes, he can swim. But again, you don't, it's not that responsive when you're on a catamaran on a sail under sail. And he doesn't have something that we are investing in now, which we've talked about, but we just didn't have it in place. A beacon basically that he wears on his wrist or leg that keeps Rosa Linda Roman(28:49): Track of where he is and alerts a signal. If he goes overboard and gives you like a beacon. So you can hone in on that, that kid or persons location, I think it's called spot. And we do not yet have a spot system. And so in that moment, I mean, it was like the scariest. It was the scariest moment. I think one of the top five that we've ever had. And so there we were, he, we just, I went down and I, I got him and I just hugged him and I cried. And I said, you cannot do that. You can't be, you have to have your life vest on. You cannot be peeing over the back of the boat. You know, it just all kinds of wrong. So many things went wrong. And so gratefully though, and that's the thing is if you look at it bad luck or good luck, you know, which one really was it, good luck that, that little boy didn't go overboard, right? Rosa Linda Roman(29:51): Not so good luck that it happened at all. But this is another one of those experiences where you go, okay, we were given another chance we were given you know, we are fortunate that we did not, it did not go the ugly way, the way that would have destroyed all of our lives. Right. And that's true. I know in everything we do, we all have moments in our lives where there's just, something goes terribly wrong and, and you think, Oh my gosh, that was way too close for comfort, you know? And I'm just grateful. It was just, it was just a scary situation and didn't turn out worse than that. So I will just say, we have had plenty of adventures for, for this little stretch and I'm looking forward to just normal sailing in the near future. Rosa Linda Roman(30:51): We are working out a lot of communication systems. You know, there's a lot of little things that I don't even get to talk, talk about yet here on the podcast or really with anyone. Cause we're just in the thick of it. But like you know, my husband travels quite a bit and he was away on clinicals, which means he's doing his doctoring. And, and when he's doing that, it's very hard to reach him or, or have his attention for more than a minute or two because he's in, you know, helping critical patients for you know, 12 to 15 hours straight. And so this was one of those times where he was working on his clinical shift in New Mexico, Alamogordo, New Mexico, and our air conditioning went out now, that's not critical. So you can't compete. Like I could never compete with all the people who really need this critical care, but you know, we've got things that come up and when your spouse who knows things about, you know, he's the engineer on the boat really. Rosa Linda Roman(31:56): And he knows things and we have not gone through training to know these systems. And so of course it's bedtime. The AC went out. I knew that I, it occurred to me that the filters probably hadn't been cleaned in a while because that was one of our former nanny's jobs. Was she, she very wonderfully would maintain the filters for the air conditioning. And because of we're at a Marina, a lot of the, and we're surrounded by coral reef. So a lot of sea life, it's a sea water cooling system, I guess it circulates seawater through the system, keep the air conditioning units from overheating. And it's because of where we are. You have to you have to clean it. Like every two to three days, we get like barnacles in there and just gunky stuff. And so it has to be cleaned regularly, especially because we run the AC all the time. Rosa Linda Roman (33:03): And that's kind of a topic for a different day that my husband and I are like opposite ends of the comfort temperature spectrum. I am happy to have just the windows open and be warm with a breeze or a little light fan. And he needs constant air conditioning at all times, which is kind of funny because you know, we're on a boat and we're on this, on the water. So it, it's not nearly as hot as it would be most of the time inland. But anyway, so yeah, we we had the AC go out and I knew it was saying high pressure. So it shuts off as a safety. And so I was like, Oh, what are we going to do about this? You know, so I called my husband and I tried to just get a little bit of guidance so I could do it. Rosa Linda Roman(33:53): But the kids and I were basically learning how to do it, how to fix this air conditioning by, you know, by just a quick description from my husband in between his critical work of helping patients. Right? So these are the kinds of things that when you're in a house, there's always things that, you know, houses need maintenance and things come up, some system breaks or something happens, but usually it's not critical. It's not a critical system or something that you have to fix in that exact moment or something terrible is going to happen. Right. And so you can wait till later, or I could just wait until my husband comes home, right. Because that's his department, but in this case I could not do that because, well, I could have, we could have been without air conditioning, but generally on a boat, things need to be fixed stat like now. Rosa Linda Roman(34:53): And so the good news is it forces you to really become self-sufficient and figure things out. The bad news is sometimes when you really need something fixed, it's very frustrating and potentially dangerous in some systems. But we, we try to err on the side of conservative when it comes to our safety and caution and really trying to really think things through before we set sail on big adventures. So yeah, so it's an it's, it's funny how just the act of being on a boat, living on a boat, changes you, even though we haven't sailed anywhere significant yet on this boat it's a different mindset, everything, and you shift with it. So yeah, I look forward to sharing some more of those stories with you guys on a future edition here on New Mexico castaways. But I am finally about to get to our boat. I'm just going over the port of Palm Beach right now with all the shipping containers and the big grand celebration cruise ship. It's a very active port. And we are at the Marina right next to it called the Riviera Beach Marina. So I've got to quickly pick up Ziva for her beach volleyball lesson. And so I'm going to let you guys go. Thank you so much for listening to New Mexi-Castaways and I'm Rosa Linda Román
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