NMC035 Post Hurricane Matthew
Recorded: October 9, 2016
Location: Riviera Beach, Florida
Subject: Returning to our floating home after evacuating for a hurricane.
Talk about dodging a bullet! In the previous episode of New Mexi-Castaways we were just getting ready to evacuate for hurricane Matthew. With forecast models all showing its path directly toward the West Palm Beach area, we thought we would return to find our home, SV Dawn Treader, damaged or destroyed. But at the last minute, Matthew took a turn, and we avoided a direct hit. I think, in this episode you can hear the serious relief in my voice.
By the way, if you ever want to see more about the subjects I talk about on the podcast, you can join our other amazing supporters we like to call the “New Mexi-Castaways Crew.” By making a monthly pledge on Patreon (as little as $2) you help us keep this podcast alive. As a thank you, we share weekly bonus features which show you more about what our liveaboard life is like. We hope you will consider joining the crew. For those of you that are already onboard, thank you!
Until next week, fair winds, following seas and lots of laughter, everyone!
P.S. Apparently hurricane evacuations threw me off my game. You may notice that I never recorded the ending of the show. Sorry about that. Hopefully, you will get the idea anyway.
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Get the Full Episode Transcript:download the transcript
RosaLinda Román: 00:28 Hello and welcome to New Mexi-Castaways. I'm Rosa Linda Román and I am sitting here with my very sweet furry friend Nala, our six-month-old German shepherd almost six months and I am watching the sun rise over Peanut Island in West Palm Beach area. Um, I, we are at Riviera Beach Marina and we are very happy to be here to be anywhere on our boat right now because the reality is we thought we were going to lose her. Completely. We thought we were going to lose it all. I just finally got us pretty much settled back in yesterday. My family and I worked all day to move our stuff back in from having evacuated because of Hurricane Matthew. Hurricane Matthew was predicted to hit West Palm Beach directly head on and we as a category four hurricane it was going to be. And so we were pretty much prepared for, I dunno what you can't prepare for the worst, but we did what we could to take what we could off the boat. RosaLinda Román: 01:45 We had some things at a friend's house and the rest we took in our minivan with our three kids and we had our dog Nala was with our babysitter, Ms. Allie, and they stayed in this area. So, um, that wasn't really the plan. She thought she was going to go to her landlord's house inland about an hour and it didn't turn out to be the case. So that was part of the very big stress of what, uh, was really one of the most stressful times for my family after having moved onto the boat almost four months ago. Now, I think we're on day 115 as I'm recording this, of this adventure being full full time on the boat, although a good part of the beginning of that was spent traveling and with visitors. So, um, we've really been fully on the boat for about a month and a half, I want to say. RosaLinda Román: 02:47 And we love it. We haven't sailed yet. Like as far as going down the chain of islands, like I envision, um, and you can listen to past episodes about that, but basically my daughter is a competitive gymnast. Um, and we are letting her finish out her season here at Palm Beach Gymnastics because the coach is Steve Nuno and also Philip Garcia and Mark, I don't know Mark's last name, but, uh, a group of coaches and Steve Nuno is known for having coached Shannon Miller, the Olympian, and he currently has an Olympic hopeful, actually two. One of them is Emily Gaskins. Um, so it'll be interesting to see where they end up going. Uh, basically he has two elite gymnast and because of that, my daughter is really thriving at this gym. So we're gonna let her finish out her season, which started in September. And right now I'm recording this on, uh, what is the this? October ninth. So, um, yeah, this is where we are and we like this spot. We like this marina. We like the gym and uh, yet obviously we're eager to sail. Um, but we can't, we, we, uh, we're waiting, we're going to wait until probably the beginning of December, but this week we started seeing indications early this week that the hurricane was headed straight for us and it wasn't going to be good. So we got what we could off the boat. We looked for a place that we could take the boat to a more safe harbor, but there really wasn't a lot. There weren't a lot of options because we live on a 45 foot sailing catamaran. And because it's a Catamaran and because it's a sailboat that limits where we, where we can go. We can't just pull up to any slip and, and, um, you know, cross tide, uh, as best we can. RosaLinda Román: 04:56 We actually are very wide. Our boat is 26 feet wide and we're very tall. Our mast is 75 feet tall, so we don't, um, we don't fit in a lot of places and we called all kinds of marinas and all kinds of different potential, um, hurricane harbors, safe harbors, and none of them could accommodate us. So we ended up having to stay here in the West Palm Beach in the Riviera Beach Marina. Um, and we, once it started getting really scary as time got closer and closer to when the hurricane was going to hit and we realized we had to stay, we had to leave the boat. Um, we decided to cross tie it across the channel because if you know anything about catamarans, especially the wide, wider, bigger ones, um, you usually are, at any marina, you're placed on what is called the T- head, which is the end or the end dock, um, because you can't fit into a regular slip. RosaLinda Román: 06:05 And so you're right on the end, which means only one side of your boat has something to tie to. And usually that's perfectly fine, no problem. But obviously when you're going to have, uh, a storm surge, which means the ocean rises or the water level rises tremendously. Um, if you're going to have a storm surge or crazy winds or anything like that, then, um, you don't want, you definitely don't want to be on the end. You want to be cross tied to another dock. Well, we have, I'm looking in front of me. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve, um, slips that are on the other side of us. So, basically if we cross tie across the channel, then we block in 12 other slips. So we at first thought we weren't going to be able to do that because people were going to need to come in and out. Well, once the wind starts kicking up and the waves, you start to realize there's no way anyone's getting in and out of here after a certain point, once the storm hits. So, we talked to the marina and we talked to the other boaters. All of them had already left except for two, and they were both sailboats, one without a mast in front of us and one just a over here on my port side, which is my left as I faced the bow, and they were not going anywhere. They were going to just tie to their docks and hope for the best. So, we at that point, this was, I'm trying to think of what day this was. This was Thursday. Yes, Thursday. Um, I'm recording this on a Sunday, so just Thursday we tied our boat and there's another catamaran bigger than ours, directly behind us that, um, was, is also on the T- head. RosaLinda Román: 08:01 And so my husband worked for, It was hours and hours, probably seven hours to, and our babysitter, Allie worked her butt off and um, one of the dock hands, Aaron also. And then my daughter helped, but basically, well one of my daughters and my son and I were packing our stuff inside the boat. The other people were securing the boat as best they could to the far dock across the channel. So, it, we had to obviously buy lots and lots and lots of rope to be able to reach way across the channel. I wish I knew the distance, but I don't. Um, it's at least two boat lengths because we always go through this channel. So, let's say at least 50 feet, probably 75 feet is my guess across the channel. Um, and so we cross tied across the channel. Plus, we pulled the boat off our current dock about 10 feet, which required obviously long lines for that too. And then we cross, crisscross tied to the boat behind us. So, it was kind of like a spiderweb and our two Catamaran, we're in the middle of that spider web. Still, with all that preparation, we were absolutely sure there was no way we were going to have a boat to come back to. Um, we've seen way too many, um, aftermath photos of what happens during a hurricane or after a hurricane. Um, especially to boats. And we just did not expect we would have anything to come back to. The boat, the marina is a floating, it has floating docks. And what that means is the entire dock and the boats attached to the dock rise with the water. So some, some docks like a concrete, um, doc or pier would just be fixed and the boats are the only thing that move. But with a floating dock, it's nice because you don't feel the motion as much I think. Um, and so generally it's, we really like having a floating dock and I guess with a hurricane, you really, there's no good scenario. Um, and so we have these pylons or I don't know these yeah, like pylons, like big, um, pylons, I don't know how to describe it, but um, like poles, like a big pole that is maybe 10 feet tall, um, that holds, that the floating dock is, um, floats up and down along this, this pole, these poles. And so as long as you don't, the water doesn't rise above that. You might be able to just, you know, if you can withstand the wind and the waves, you might be okay. But with what the reports were, as if the hurricane hit us directly, that the storm surge, which again is rising, the water level is bringing the water level up that that was predicted to be 10 to 15 feet. RosaLinda Román: 11:17 Well, there's no way that we would've survived. , we gathered what we could, and I said to my, my kids, I said, okay guys, we have to take only what is our most precious treasures, like our special stuff off the boat and the rest we're going to have to leave because we really only had a day and a half to prepare. And it's a lot, obviously a lot of work to evacuate and to prepare the boat at the same time. So, my daughter Ahava said, "But mommy, everything we have on the boat is precious and special because," Oh, listen, you can hear the cruise ship just came in. I don't know if you can hear that. RosaLinda Román: 12:03 I love the sounds up here. I'm sitting at the helm area, the bench seat up at the helm, which is basically our third level. We have like a three-level boat if you will. And a up here you can see the sun rise and all the activity and a nice breeze. Um, which I really don't know is if it's bad for recording or not. I'll find out after I record all this. Um, but back to what I was saying, uh, Ahava said, "but mommy, everything we have on the boat is special because we just Kon Mari’d and we already got rid of everything that we didn't love. Only things that sparked joy are on the boat." Now, that's not exactly true because you tend to accumulate things still even after you go through this Kon Mari process. And if you don't know what I'm talking about, you definitely need to go back and listen to some previous episodes because I did a whole section about our families downsizing in order to move on to the boat. RosaLinda Román: 13:01 And so, it is true that we tried to only bring things that spark joy and I would say out of this whole boat, about 80% of the things we had on board, I mean as far as personal belongings, um, were things we would not want to part with if we could help it. So we were working very hard to gather things. It was really, um, it was very interesting to watch how each kid handled the stress and also how we handled the stress. I think that's the biggest lesson every time we, um, do anything now living on this boat and probably in life, but you notice it very, very pronounced. Uh, it very profoundly, um, when you're on a boat because you're in tight quarters, you have scenarios come up like hurricane preps that are, um, immediate and need full attention of the entire crew, meaning your whole family and you're trying to handle the situation at hand, but also interact with your kids in a way that helps them not to be fearful and to, um, get the job done in an efficient way. Right? So, it was so many layers of, of emotion and overwhelm and each kid handled it completely differently. Um, Ziva does not want to talk about anything that has to do with potential disaster. She didn't want to talk about it at all. She was very upset when we brought it up at dinner. It was like Wednesday night and we're like, okay. Um, I guess it was Tuesday night when we really started talking about, okay, this is what's going on. Um, we really need to talk about how we're approach this, uh, situation because, um, what happens if a hurricane hits and what, you know, what we're going to do. Well, Ziva didn't want to talk about that at all. She just wanted to change the subject, was very upset that we kept trying to bring it up. Um, so that was how she handled it. And the good news is we figured out pretty early on that she is better off if she has a clear objective, a clear task. RosaLinda Román: 15:19 So she worked with Nathan to work on securing the lines and worked with Allie and they work to, to um, get the boat, the exterior of the boat ready. Uh, so that was how we handled Ziva and she did really well until we, until we were done. And then the meltdowns happened, like heading to the hotel and in the hotel once we were done with the preps. Um, the other one that was kind of interesting or difficult with the one that was the most difficult was Samuel, I think because he, he just, well, first of all, he said he didn't care if the boat was, um, shattered into a million pieces or something like that he said, um, because then he could go back to New Mexico and play with his friends. And were like, no, that's, I, I think we don't need to lose everything in order for that to happen. RosaLinda Román: 16:14 But, uh, but during the actual preps, he didn't really want to help. He wanted to be in the way he started. He's been, he's five by the way. And he's testing out like what happens if he behaves like the class clown and what happens if he behaves like a pouty, you know, demanding pain in the butt. So like he's trying all these different scenarios. And needless to say, they're exasperating, especially when we're trying to get things done. Um, I hate it, just absolutely hate using electronics as a babysitter, but considering that our babysitter, we needed her physical muscle and, um, just, you know, strength and, and, uh, level headedness to get the boat ready. Um, we really, we were not able to fully focus on Samuel like I like to do. Um, and so luckily because we just, we started homeschooling. Um, I decided to try out a new reading program that my, uh, one of my, my daughter's teammates moms turned us on to, um, called Reading Eggs and Reading Eggs basically is an early reading app that that was really what I really liked about it is that it helped communicate, like spoke to him and helped him understand the instructions. Um, because a lot of the apps they have potential, but they don't explain to the kid what, what is expected of them. And so, it requires my constant involvement. And while that's great, when I, when it's a school day and one of us adults are able to work with the, um, with the kid directly, but there are times when you have three kids that you can't give one of them or two of them or sometimes any of them, direct attention that they need in order to, um, really spell out the instructions. So, because of that, we decided, I decided to try this Reading Eggs app and it was great. It kept Samuel busy for hours. And again, I don't love that that was what we did, but it was the safest way because with all the moving parts, you know, the boat moving and, and trying to secure lines and everybody having to handle so many different things, it was actually better for everyone that he was kind of vegging out on the computer. RosaLinda Román: 18:41 The other part that had to be done is we had to strap down our, um, we had to strap down all the, anything that could fly away. Anything that could catch the wind, um, and cause damage we had to, um, secure. So, we, Allie spent a long time tying down ropes and, um, strapping things down and one of the things that needed to be secured was the, the sail and all the lines going up the mast. Um, well there's only one way to do that and that's to climb the mast. So, I took my rock-climbing gear and I climbed up the mast with the help of my husband and the, um, I think it's called a winch and electric winch and some very sturdy ropes. And he just basically, um, pulled me up the mast and then I tied the, I secured the line with a thin line all the way up and down the mast. It was pretty scary to be up there, but I was glad that I don't have the fear of heights that Nathan does or Ziva does because I was able to really get the job done. I felt like I really made a difference when it came to that part of it. Um, Because I don't know if you've ever listened to a sailboat, but if you're, if lines are free, you'll hear it whacking against things, whack, whack, whack, whack, whack. And while that's annoying, generally it's really dangerous when it comes to high-speed winds. So, we secured the boat, we got everything going. Oh, and then let me finish with my, my third kid. So Ahava was kind of very stressed. She was trying to gather her special things and it was taking a really, really, really long time. And she doesn't have that much, but I felt like she was kind of paralyzed with fear of losing things. RosaLinda Román: 20:41 And she was expressing that in a very aggressive way, mad at all of us and you know, not, not cooperating. And, and that was frustrating because she's our oldest and we wanted obviously to hurt a help, but we also, I also wanted to give her the time to, uh, gather her things so she didn't feel like we rushed her and she forgot some very special thing. And when I say special treasures, things like, I mean, first of all, we left our home in New Mexico and got rid of a lot of stuff. So that was challenging enough. But then the, there's like things that are irreplaceable from Nathan's mom who passed away, Mom and Dad and, um, you know, so Grandma Ann's special things that, that she bought for the kids or gave to them. Um, those kinds of things. And for Ziva, it was the stuffed animals. She didn't want to get rid of those. So, you know, there's just so many things that, um, have, I wanted to make sure she didn't forget anything and she was feeling a lot of pressure and we, it was a very high-tension situation. Just prepping the boat was very tense. And so, um, when tensions run high, Nathan and Ahava tend to um, kind of rub, rub each other the wrong way because, um, he, he gets frustrated with her and he's focused on trying to get the job done and he wants her to be helpful and she kind of moves in the other direction, kind of goes into herself, which, you know, we're all different. But in the circumstance, it was, it was difficult and frustrating. Um, and I am only telling you guys this because I want you to realize that everybody handles this something so stressful very differently and none of them are wrong. RosaLinda Román: 22:33 But if you're going through or if you've gone through something like this and you're wondering why your child is behaving a certain way or something, maybe a member of your crew, if you don't have kids, why, why people are doing certain things. You have to take a step back and realize they all process it differently and if you can keep your wits about you and not attack when somebody's not doing what you feel like they should be doing, you'll come out much better for it on the other side. Uh, I feel like this was a very bonding experience, not one that we would have wished on anyone, certainly not ourselves. Um, but because we had to handle the task at hand and tried to, um, manage everything as gracefully as possible, I feel like that, um, gave us a chance to really learn about what we were made of and how we can help each other to traverse. Um, a scary situation. I'm watching, by the way, the cruise ship is still disembarking, but there's a big tanker truck, a tanker "truck" .Tanker. Um, I guess a tanker is the only word, um, boat ship coming in, called the Tropic Jade, and it's because the port of Palm Beach is right in front of me and they come in and they offload their cargo and then they head back to wherever they're going to go pick up some more stuff. So, and the sun is peaking out over Peanut Island now, and it's a, just a gorgeous morning!
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