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23' mini-trawler
by Schucker

Janice aboard Seaweed,
living the good life afloat...

Trawler cruising on $14 per day is possible.
I'm doing it and you can too.

Janice Marois, nautical journalist.
Accredited member of Boat Writers International.

Here, I share my views on living aboard a small boat with very limited resources. Hopefully my successes will help others achieve the life. And yes, I'll share the things I did wrong too -- though not everything 'cause a girl's got to have her secrets!


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


This is a multi-part series about Hurricane Irma and the impact it had on me. Previous articles can be found here:


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 of Katja (photo above) 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.



Aftermath of storm:


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


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


No power, carpets mildewed, hot and humid


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


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.


Update #46 ↓ for Hurricane Irma P-Surge 2.6


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 10-15', 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.

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.
CARRABELLE, Florida is where I met Cap'n Kim.

*ICW: Intra-Coastal Waterway

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.

More to come... I'll post the next part shortly.

Important Addendum: "THANK YOU KEN for making comments work again."

I'll be updating/changing all the rest of the pages over the next month or three to the new link. He did it. I am so happy. Thanks Sparrow! You're the best.

Comments welcome and encouraged on the
Hurricane Irma (part 3) page.

Categories: Boats, Characters, Locations, Pets, Security,


Announcement: I did start a few months ago emailing notices to readers when new articles go up. If you'd like to be included via BCC* simply drop me a line to janice@janice142.com and I'll add you. It's free.

*BCC - Blind Carbon Copy. Basically no one but me will have your email address and the list of subscribers is not available.

Now this is not fancy. Basically I copy off the top three items in my Archive file. That way you can catch up if life gets in the way of your reading fun.

Secret: If you want to know what's what, start in the Archive. It offers you the title, first paragraph and topics (Categories) covered in each article published on my website.

My Cruising Kitty earns money each time you buy on Amazon through my links. It costs you nothing and helps supplement my cruising funds. I appreciate it so much when you click through my site's Amazon links. It really does help keep me afloat.

Thank you.


Pet of the Week: Gus (and Cap'n Tom)
aboard S/V
Gone Tropic

Submit your pet's photo.
Please email pictures of your crew!

More canine, feline and feathered crew members can be found on the The First Mate Gallery page.


The Archive holds a chronological list of every item published on my website. It includes a brief synopsis (not just the title) along with the topics covered in each article.

Click on the title and voila: you're there. Enjoy!

Skipper, First Mate extraordinaire

Of course every boat needs a Deck Swabbie. Mine, born in 2008, is a papillon mix. She weighs in at 4 pounds 3 ounces.

Coming soon ...

Making a pattern for an Alternator Bracket


Topics of Interest:
You can achieve a simple satisfying life

Oh, a wondrous bird is the pelican!
His bill holds more than his belican.
He can take in his beak enough food for a week.
But I'm darned if I know how the helican.
(Poem by Dixon Lanier Merritt, 1879-1972.)


For years I've been collecting short pithy statements otherwise known as aphorisms. If you're like me and enjoy the weird, go ahead and CLICK!

These are previously posted at the bottom of each article -- for new, you'll have to come visit again.

Seaweed is in St. Pete right now.

The above chart (#411) can be a wish book of sorts as you look over your domain and wonder where to go next. And yes, I do have the originals (sans red arrow) as jpeg's for download should you desire your own for closer perusal. Enjoy!

The Writer's Block

It's my belief that other folks who boat are some of the most interesting in the world. Inside every boater is a story. Let yours out! I'd love to post short stories, vignettes, or even longer articles that focus on some aspect of our life on or near the water. Suggested topics include:

1. I Remember When...
2. My First Boat
3. Who inspired you to be a boater?
4. Fishing Trips or Tricks
5. Or another subject of your choosing

For the novice, here's how to write: Simply pretend you're sending a letter to a friend. Tell about an event or a memory from years ago that you still recall.

Life has changed so much on the water since I was born aboard. Personally I'd love to hear your memories of life when you were younger. Boats were smaller, narrower, and much slower. Kids were kids and our families often shaped the adult we have become. Here are my two aboard the tow boat my dad ran for a time:

Your pictures would be wonderful too. I posted one of Boot Key Harbor taken in 2001 that has gotten quite a few downloads and really, that's not so terribly long ago... Do you have any photos to share? Email me.

Do you want to help out?

Often an article for the website will be completely written yet lack photographs. I like pictures and am looking for some for up-coming pieces:

  • Pets afloat (include pet and boat name please)

  • Any picture of boats underway or at anchor

  • Photos of people enjoying life in or on the water

Size: a minimum of 1000 pixels across please. If that doesn't make sense think bigger versus resized for emailing. I prefer the full-size version. Also, the name you'd like me to use when I add the copyright stuff to your picture. And thanks bunches!

My email address is janice@janice142.com

23' Schucker mini-trawler, circa 1983.

Thanks for visiting. If you happen to see my boat along the waterways, give a call on Channel 16. I'm always listening.

click picture to enlarge

My home is not fancy by any means, however you cannot imagine how wonderful it is to come back to her after an expedition on shore.

If I can live this life, why not you too?

Skipper, First Mate

Aphorism Alert: Begin doing what you want to now. We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand, and melting like a snowflake. Marie Beyon Ray.

Contributions to my Cruising Kitty
are always appreciated.

Every gift helps.

The Cruising Kitty is what boaters refer to as spending money. There's never enough aboard Seaweed!

I am also an Amazon Affiliate.


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