Basic Terms

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Rising To The Occasion...


If there is one thing we can all be sure of over the course of our lifetime, it's the fact that we will face many challenges along the way. While there are several different ways one may approach a challenge, my philosophy has always been that failure is never an option and we must rise to the occasion to meet and overcome anything life may throw our way... No matter how big or small! 

It's no different in the life of a sailboat... Especially my sailboat who has undoubtedly faced many challenges during her 44 years of existence. When I first found her she didn't seem as though she would ever be able to face another challenge, let alone overcome one. While she almost had me convinced at one point that this was true, I must admit that with every passing day I am feeling more confident that she will soon be able to meet perhaps one of the biggest challenges that an old discarded sailboat will ever have to face... The challenge of floating again! 

That's right I said floating again...  Now, I know you may be thinking where's the challenge in that? After all It is a boat and boats are designed to float right?  Well, yes but they are also destined to sink if they are subjected to conditions that are not within the scope of their design. 

I picked up the following statistic on the BoatU.S. website which is a great resource for all boaters; power or sail.

As you can see in the pie chart above, sinking due to an improperly maintained vessel makes up for approximately 2/3 of the chart.  If you've only read just a few of my previous posts you already know that I acquired the boat in a serious state of disrepair.  Even though I am making a very conscious effort to restore her integrity I can't lose sight of the fact that this is a "first time" restoration and I may have missed something along the way.  No matter, I will either be thinking about everything I did right while I'm sailing home or everything I did wrong while I'm swimming home. 

On that thought, I have intuitively come to realize that it would be in my best interest to spare no effort in helping my little boat meet this challenge.  Particularly because I will be the one that she is keeping afloat. This prompted me to learn about the dynamics of buoyancy (flotation) and in doing so I gained a little bit of knowledge as to the dynamics of sinking. 

Many people will associate the words 'boat' and 'sinking' with the words 'Titanic' and 'iceberg'. This is understandable since the tragedy of the Titanic had such a gripping effect on society's psyche. Now, even though my chances of hitting an iceberg here in coastal Florida are pretty low, there are still plenty of other circumstances that could lead to sinking.  

Swamping is always a big concern especially on a sailboat. The nautical definition of swamping is simply described as when a boat fills with water and we all know what happens then... 

There are several ways a boat could fill with water while underway, even if it doesn't have any holes in it and everything is in proper working order.  Waves for example have the potential to come over the sides and swamp the boat. When it comes to a sailboat the wind can play a role in swamping your boat too.

Sailboats are subject to heeling, meaning they often travel at an angle relative to the wind pushing on the sails. You may remember that we discussed this concept in our post "Carina", noting the importance of the keel which provides the counterbalance that is necessary to keep the boat in an upright position. 


Even with the keel functioning properly, a strong gust of wind, an unexpected wave, or both together have the potential to knock a sailboat down long enough to take on large amounts of water. That's why many sailboats -especially the smaller ones- are designed with additional flotation.  My boat was designed with additional flotation but it was no longer there.

In the early days when a ship broke up at sea, sailors clung to anything that floated and waited tirelessly for help to show up and save them. Today things are slightly different. Whilst sailors are still waiting for help to arrive, hopefully they are doing so from the safety of a partially submerged vessel that did not actually sink. This is made possible by positive flotation.. 

There are many different ways of introducing positive flotation to a boat. Some of the more conventional methods are the addition of foam blocks, sheets or expanding foams. 

Then there are some unconventional methods...  I've actually heard of people using Ping-Pong balls, soda bottles and -believe it or not- Pool Noodles!

This is just one of the many actual restoration photos I came across while researching foam flotation on the Internet.  I was very surprised to find that pool noodles are becoming such a popular alternative to engineered flotation methods. 

Although I won't comment as to whether this is correct or incorrect, I will state that this is not an option I would choose.  Marine foam products are very expensive and I can understand why someone would look for economic alternatives but it basically comes down to the safety of you and your passengers and what that's really worth? As for me, I chose to spend the extra money but hey, whatever floats your boat right? Pun intended.... 

I decided to go with the pour in place polyurethane expanding foam for two reasons. One, it was available in several different densities (which we'll discuss later) and two, it looked like it was going to be a lot of fun to apply! 

The foam comes in a two part liquid usually labeled "A" and "B" and once the two parts are combined you essentially have 25 to 45 seconds to thoroughly mix and apply it before your mixing cup ends up looking like the last frame in the photo below... 

Fun right? Absolutely, if you like working under pressure in a hot confined space with lots of safety gear on... Yes in that case I would have to say it's a blast! 

Now before you run out and buy a few gallons of expanding foam there are several key points you have to remember. We'll start with safety.  Safety is of the utmost importance when working with chemicals so follow the manufacturers cautions always!  At a minimum, a respirator, protective gloves and eye protection are a must... 

The next thing you want to keep in mind is that they call it expanding foam for a reason. You should always have overflow holes in place because if you don't the expanding foam could potentially deform your hull or even break through during the expansion process... Take another peek at the mixing cup in the photo and try to imagine what would happen if it was capped!  

Once you've built up enough confidence to where you think you can safely work with this stuff without blowing your boat apart you will want to know a little bit more about how buoyancy actually works. A fundamental understanding is very important when it comes to picking the right foam for the right application as there are many different types available but they are not all used for the same purpose. 

Archimedes of Syracuse, the Ancient Greek mathematician is credited with discovering the physical law of buoyancy otherwise known as Archimedes' Principle. 

While it's really difficult to prove historically how or when Archimedes made this discovery, legend says that Archimedes was summoned by the King to determine whether or not the royal crown was made from solid gold or a cheaper mixture of silver and gold. Apparently, the King was suspicious of the royal goldsmith but did not want to accuse him without having proof.  
The King was confident that Archimedes -known for being one of the smartest men in the Kingdom- would rise to the occasion and be able to determine the goldsmith's guilt or innocence. 

Archimedes on the other hand, actually had no clue as to how he was going to figure this out so he decided to think about it over a long relaxing bath. When he settled into his bath he observed that the more he lowered himself into the tub the higher the water level would rise. As the water spilled over the edge Archimedes concluded that "any object, wholly or partially immersed in a fluid, is buoyed up by a force equal to the weight of the fluid displaced by the object."

So this is how he figured out the King's crown problem. He knew that gold was heavier than silver, so a piece of gold and a piece of silver of the exact same weight would have to be a different size since you need more silver to match the weight of gold. That said, a crown of pure gold would actually be smaller in size than a crown mixed with silver and ultimately displace less water!  The goldsmith was guilty! 

Confused yet? So was I at first but after a long relaxing bath of my own I realized that it was really pretty simple.  There are basically three key components when it comes to understanding the principle of buoyancy so this should actually be as easy as 1,2,3... 

Mass, Density, and Volume. 

Mass is simply described as the amount of matter in an object. Matter is pretty much anything that takes up space such as a boat, the water in the ocean, or even a cloud in the sky.  All matter is made up of tiny particles known as atoms which vary in quantity and size across different types of matter. 

Volume is the amount of space that matter takes up so if we wanted to know how much volume is in the cube below we would multiply it's length x width x height. 
If each of the measurements were 1 foot you would have a volume of 1 cubic foot. 
Example:  1' x 1' x 1' = 1 ft3

Density is defined as an objects mass per unit volume. An easy way to think about this is to imagine how atoms are assembled in an object and how much space they take up. If the atoms are closely packed together the object would be considered dense and occupy less space than an object which has its atoms spread further apart.  Think of the old riddle, "Which weighs more, a pound of bricks or a pound of feathers?" The answer is they both weigh the same but feathers take up a lot more space. 

Density is important when it comes to buoyancy because it is the determining factor in whether an object sinks or floats. Simply put, if an object is more dense than water it will sink and if it is less dense than water it will float.  A really cool experiment that shows this concept is seen in the following picture. 

Both cans are of equal volume but their densities are different.  The volume of the regular Coke can is concentrated with 39 grams of sugar making it more dense than the volume of water it's displacing so the upward force of buoyancy is not enough to hold it up.  The Diet Coke can on the other hand, does not contain any sugar and is less dense than the volume of water it's displacing so therefore the upward force of buoyancy allows it to float.

This is what makes it possible for big steel ships to float. We know that steel is more dense than water and would normally sink when placed in water but when it comes to a large ship you have to consider the total volume of the vessel is filled with air which is much less dense than water so if there is enough air in the ship to make the total volume (steel and air) lighter than the amount of water it displaces, it will float just like the Diet Coke can in the photo above. Conversely, a hole in the ship that allows water to enter and displace the  air would change the density of the overall volume and the ship would sink, just like the regular Coke can. 

So once I got to this point in the project where I felt like I knew a good bit about buoyancy I was ready to purchase flotation foam. The way they sell this stuff can be pretty confusing but the research I did was a great help in selecting the correct foam as well as the correct quantities. 

Polyurethane expanding foam is a closed cell foam meaning it is impervious to water, fuels, and other chemicals that could potentially break it down over a period of time.  It is self adhering and will bond to almost any surface it's applied to. This is important because if you did tear a hole in the bottom of your hull you don't want to worry about your flotation floating away...   Sounds funny right, but think about the ping pong balls or pool noodles. 

The foam is sold as a two part liquid in quart or gallon quantities but it also has a pound designation. This is where it could get a bit confusing but now that we know all about the laws of buoyancy it should be easy to understand.  

If you only want to add flotation to your boat you would buy 2 lb. foam. This is the lowest density rating which means it has the highest flotation capability.  Think of it as the Diet Coke can-less dense more flotation.  The pound designation simply means that one cubic foot of foam weighs 2 lbs., hence it's pretty light.  1 cubic foot of 2 lb. foam will also provide approximately 60 lbs. of buoyancy (1 cubic foot of water weighs approximately 62.4 lbs.). So once you know how much water your boat displaces you can start to calculate how much foam you actually need.  My boat for example displaces 1200 lbs. of water, does that mean I need 1200 lbs. of flotation? Not necessarily...This is because not everything on the boat will cause it to sink.  For example, the wood or cushions are going to be less dense than water so they will have a certain amount of buoyancy.  On the other hand items like the mast and boom are more dense than water so they will not have any buoyancy and increase the boats chances of sinking. This is why understanding density is important when it comes to figuring out how to keep your boat from sinking. The following link is to the 'US Coast Guard Boat Builders Handbook' which is chock full of great information on this topic and even provides the densities and calculations for items that should be considered when determining your boats flotation needs.

There is one other thing to consider before opening your wallet and buying a few gallons of 2 lb. polyurethane flotation foam. They make it in higher densities!  The higher density foams are heavier per cubic foot, provide less than 60 lbs. of buoyancy but are extremely strong and the higher densities are actually used for structural repairs.

Knowing the age of my boat and the condition in which I found her,  I knew that I would definitely want to use the structural foam as it still provided some flotation-just not as much as the lower density foam.   In the end I went with both and decided to use the 2 lb. flotation foam (60 lbs. of buoyancy per cubic foot) in the stronger areas and 16 lb. structural foam (45 lbs. of buoyancy) in the weaker areas that underwent extensive repair. 

When using the higher density 16 lb. foam you lose 15 lbs. of buoyancy per cubic foot (45 lbs. v. 60 lbs. of buoyancy) but from a structural stand point you gain a significant amount of strength.


Ok so now I think I'm ready to pour some foam! If you remember in our last post we fiberglassed all of the stringers and bulkheads in place. These are the areas I plan to fill with foam and cover with wood to create a bench seat and a v-berth. 

The original manufacturer used flotation foam billets under the cockpit deck and in the forward portion of the v-berth.

The foam blocks have long since disappeared, for all I know they may have floated away.  Not a problem because I had a different plan in place!

The dark blue shade is where the 16 lb. structural foam would be poured, the light blue shade is where the 2 lb. floatation foam would be poured and the grey area is storage. This not only matched the design of the original manufacturers but it adds additional flotation and strength!  (forgive the cheesy graphic, my picture editing app sucks)

Mixing time! 

The mix ratios are very important so you will want to ensure that you follow the manufacturers instructions and measure accordingly! Take all the preparation time you need and try to have everything in place beforehand. Once part A and part B are combined you have approximately 25-45 seconds to thoroughly mix and pour! 

Start out by mixing small amounts first so you get a feel for how much it will expand. 

Once part B is added the clock starts!


After about 15 seconds of mixing the cup begins to heat up, the color changes and the foam starts to expand....

NOW! Throw it!!     Ahem... I mean pour it.... 

Wait for it... 

Wait for it......

There we go!!

OK, once the foam started to resemble a thanksgiving turkey I was certain that the lower portion of the cavity had the proper coverage.  I did one more pour to bring the foam to just about an inch from the top of the cavity. Once it was set I fiberglassed the wood covering in place and poured the rest of the foam through pre-drilled holes. Some people prefer to pour their foam after all of the wooden structure is already fiberglassed in.  This is ok too but you have to be sure the foam doesn't start to set before it covers the length it has to travel. That can be difficult to estimate so I decided to do it in stages to ensure uniform coverage which is especially important when pouring the structural foam. 

The coverage length on the port and starboard side were 6' and 8' which is a pretty long distance for fast setting foam to travel before it begins to set. 



This was close enough to the top to where I could install the wood cover. 

To minimize working time in such confined spaces I fiberglassed the wood covers outside of the boat.



Doing this saved a tremendous amount of time and aggravation! I would still have to fiberglass the wood into the confined spaces but it required a lot less effort. 

Another benefit to working this portion outside of the boat is that assistance was readily available! 




While my first mate Daisy continued working hard in the garage, I moved back to the inside of the boat to finish the job! 


When you drill the holes (pour and escape) remember to save the round cut-outs. Once the foam starts to near the top of the hole you want to use the round cut-out to keep the foam inside so it can travel to the next fill (or escape) hole. 

I watched a few videos of this process beforehand and noticed that one of the issues they had were that the cutouts kept falling through the hole into the wet foam before it set. A pretty good solution to this problem is using tape and ice cream sticks. 


When you pour the foam in the hole watch as it rises...


Once the foam starts nearing the top of the hole.... Place your cut-out over the hole.


Have a few bricks or weights handy to hold the cut-out in place...


After you are sure that the brick will hold the cut-out in place you can move forward to the next critical step in the process...


In the end, I won't say that this was one of the harder jobs of the restoration but it certainly wasn't the easiest either.  It required quite a bit of research and critical thinking up front because I had absolutely no real experience with this process. 

I'm glad I took the time to do the research though because not only did I avoid potential pitfalls like deforming or breaking through the hull, I also gained a fundamental knowledge of what it would take to help my little boat float once more.

So just like Archimedes, it doesn't matter what kind of obstacles you are faced with in life... Take a long relaxing bath, think about it and rise to the occasion to conquer any challenges that come your way! 

See you next time...

The Curious Sailor


Sunday, January 29, 2017

Time Flies When You're Having Fun !

Do you ever sit around and waste a lot of time thinking about the concept of time?  I do!

Especially when I realize that I'm working on an old sailboat which I started over a year ago. A project that I initially thought would take no time at all yet here I am still working on it today... I could come up with a list of viable excuses as to why I'm not done yet and I do have a very long list but I really don't think that it would serve any purpose in accomplishing the final goal. Even though I have really good excuses... 

Nevertheless, before I change the name of this blog to "The Lazy Sailor" I feel compelled to offer some explanation as to why this project seems to be taking so long.

Time flies when you're having fun! It's just that simple... Especially when it comes to restoring an old sailboat and blogging about it. 

Time really does appear to accelerate when you're having fun and sailboat repair can be be a lot of fun (sometimes).  There are certain tasks associated with the repair however, that are not fun at all but that still doesn't stop time from flying...  

No matter who or where we are in this world we all share a common sense of how time seems to pass.  While we all know that time is measured in specific increments such as minutes, hours, days, etc..., we also know that when we are actively engaged in something fun or interesting, time seems to pass at a rapid rate. Conversely, if we are bored or doing something we don't really want to do, time seems to pass very slowly. 

So why does this happen? Well, I don't really know but I do know that I experience this phenomenon when I'm working on the boat or even blogging for that matter.  Sometimes I post a story and think I have a lot of time before I need to post another one, which is usually when I'm kindly reminded by my good friend Josef that months have passed and there is nothing to read. This of course puts a little bit of pressure on me to post another story and -bam- I get writer's block! Which takes quite some time to get over I might add... Nevertheless, a little pressure is good (sometimes) as it tends to motivate you to get the job done (sometimes).

So now we've established that time appears to pass at varying rates depending on what we're doing, Let's talk about some of the tasks associated with sailboat repair and how time plays a key role in success or failure... 

Repairing a sailboat is a multifaceted process which often requires a myriad of specialized skills and techniques depending on the extent of work that needs to be done. 

In some cases a boat owner may have a specific skill set and feel confident performing certain repairs but rely on specialists to execute other types that they are not so familiar with. For instance, one may be comfortable applying his or her carpentry skills to fix a a hatch frame but seek the services of an experienced marine electrician to install new wiring, or hire a professional laminator to carry out fiberglass repairs.  This is a practical approach that usually results in a sound repair and you are essentially getting it done right the first time but where's the fun in that?!  

At the start of this project I did not think about taking this approach because I had convinced myself that there were no limits to what I could accomplish-whether I knew what I was doing or not.  As I got further into the project I started to have doubts as to whether or not I had the necessary skills to carry out the full repair because I was able to better assess the true extent of damage and realized that this wasn't as easy as I thought it would be. From that assessment I was able to somehow convince myself once again, that there are still no limits as to what I can accomplish- it would just be a matter of time...

That said, if you remember where we left off in our last repair, the bulkheads and stringers were in place and I needed to formulate a plan to fiberglass it all in to the hull, so, let's spend some time talking about fiberglass. 

Fiberglass has been around since the days of the ancient Egyptians but at that time its potential as a building material was unknown so it was mainly used for decorative purposes.

In the late 1800's patents were issued for the mass production of fiberglass strands as well as interwoven fiberglass/silk cloths, however its structural properties were still undiscovered and it was used mainly for insulation. 

In wasn't until the 1930's that Dale Kleist, working for Corning Glass, accidentally figured out a simpler method for producing glass fibers. Almost simultaneously, Carlton Ellis of DuPont was awarded a patent for polyester resin which when combined with fiberglass creates one of the most versatile building composites known today.  While fiberglass is used to manufacture hundreds of items that we utilize in our every day life, it's best known for its use in the boat construction industry. 

Fiberglass is essentially tiny strands of glass fibers. These fibers vary in size and length and can be randomly assembled into fabric known as fiberglass mat or systematically woven or stitched into a fiberglass cloth. When liquid resin is  applied to the fiberglass mat or cloth, it will eventually harden to form a strong, lightweight, flexible, composite that easily conforms to complex geometries. This makes fiberglass an excellent building material for many applications but specifically boats, as it's strong enough and flexible enough to withstand the constant forces that a vessel is subjected to when underway.

When you first start working with fiberglass and resin you quickly learn that there are more than enough types on the market to make your head spin!  There are even more opinions as to which types to use and where to use them. To keep things fairly simple I worked with two types of fiberglass and two types of resin. Based on my research I learned that fiberglass mat with polyester resin is better suited for non-structural applications and fiberglass biaxial cloth with epoxy resin would be best applied to structural applications.  Now I had a plan...

                                                                                            Biaxial Cloth (double layer- cloth
                    Fiberglass Mat                                                 on top side, mat on the bottom side                                                                                               
                           Polyester Resin                                                  Epoxy Resin

The first application was to join the stringers and bulkheads to the hull. I used two to three layers of 4" to 6" strips of biaxial fiberglass cloth and epoxy resin. Each strip overlapped the other to add strength and redundancy. Meaning, if one strip ever dis-bonded the other would still be attached to the hull.  

This is also referred to as "Tabbing".


Tip! Remember when working with resin and fiberglass, apply the resin generously to the area that is going to be covered and then to the back side of your cloth before laying it in place. This will help to ensure good saturation when you're working the cloth in with a brush or roller.


Tip! When the cloth is in place and well saturated with resin, work the  brush or roller to remove any air that might be trapped under the cloth. This will provide the best adhesion and minimize the potential for de-lamination. 

Once the initial tabbing was in place and cured I covered the stringers and bulkheads from the top down.



Tip! You can lay your precut pieces over the areas that you plan to cover for several hours or even over night. Doing this allows the cloth to relax to the shape you're going to cover and further, works out some of the wrinkles and kinks which could trap air when you're applying resin.


Tip! If you do notice air trapped under some parts of the fiberglass after the resin has cured, you can sand out the affected areas and apply fresh resin and cloth. Working with fiberglass may be a little tricky until you get used to it but it is very forgiving. 

Everything is starting to tie in nicely....  (Ignore the mess, it was a long day)

Now that the new stringers and bulkheads were fiberglassed in, it was time to reinforce the existing stringers which ran to the back of the boat. 


This was a very challenging task because I had to work under the deck where my clearance was only about 12" to 14". The only way to accomplish this was to belly crawl with plastic tubs of mixed resin and work as fast as I could!

O.K., so if you think you're done at this point you're not! Once all of your initial fiberglass layers are cured, you have to sand them all down to expose the top layer of fiber. This is done to create a good adhesion surface for additional layers of fiberglass. The entire process needs to be repeated as many times as necessary to reach the required strength and build-up.

I guess it's important to note that applying fiberglass is fairly simple, however, it can be a pain in the neck, especially if you're not familiar with the process. This is also where the time factor actually comes in to play...  For the most part you have all of the time in the world when you've measuring out your fiberglass, cutting it to length, and laying it in place. 

The resin however, is like a ticking time bomb and you should really have a fundamental understanding of how it works before you even open the container. Resin starts out in a liquid form and is applied to the fiberglass like a paint with a brush or roller.  Sounds simple right? Keep in mind though, that in order for resin to properly cure or harden to its solid state you have to add a catalyst (hardener) at exact amounts. 

It's extremely important to follow the manufacturers directions -verbatim- because when this stuff is combined together it immediately starts to thermoset. Meaning, the chemical reaction between the resin and hardener creates heat to set the final state of the resin. So, if you add too much hardener the mixture can actually ignite and you could potentially watch your project go up in flames.  Additionally, the fumes from these chemicals can also be hazardous so always utilize the proper safety equipment when working.  

As if all of this isn't enough to worry about, once you properly mix your resin and hardener you only have a certain amount of time before it actually starts to set and trust me, it's not much time! Only mix the quantity that you feel you can apply in the set amount of working time. So how do you know how much to mix? Well, that's a good question but trial and error is the best advice I can give you. Start out with small amounts and apply to small areas to get a feel for how long your mixture takes to set and simply work up from there.  As a final note, try to remember that the surrounding temperature also plays a key role in the amount of application time because the hotter it is in your working environment the quicker your mixture will set. 

So if all of this sounds like fun to you, just remember....  

Time flies when you're having fun!  ;)

Until the next time... 

The Curious Sailor

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Happy New Year!


For centuries sailors have assiduously boarded vessels crafted from the crudest materials and set sail to unknown destinations with hopes of discovering new beginnings. 

Much like the sailors of days gone by, today we all embark on a very similar journey and venture into a New Year. Reflective of years past -be it few or many- we assemble our crew of experiences and navigate from the present to the future, also with hopes of discovering new beginnings... 

This is the passage of time which has inspired the topic of my upcoming blog post and prompted me to wish all of you fair winds and following seas on your prosperous voyage to a Happy New Year! 

The Curious Sailor

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Holiday Message from The Curious Sailor...


Merry Christmas everyone! 

I hope Santa has fulfilled all of your Christmas wishes and delivered everything on your list! 

Apologies for not posting in a while but with the Holiday season upon us things have been quite busy... 

I have made some good progress with the boat and hope to have a new post up very soon to tell you all about it! . 

Until then I wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! 

The Curious Sailor

Saturday, October 15, 2016

The Calm Before the Storm...


On September 22, 2016, a tropical wave formed somewhere off the west coast of Africa.
Over the next few days, this unassuming wave quickly developed into a formidable  tropical storm.
By September 30, the U.S. National Hurricane Center reported that the storm was now the most powerful hurricane in the Atlantic since Hurricane Felix in 2007.

That's when Hurricane Matthew first caught my attention!

I've been in Florida for just over 8 years now and consider myself pretty lucky for not having experienced a hurricane yet. While, I have grappled with several tropical storms which, are still very dangerous, they cannot compare to the devastating potential that comes with a major hurricane. I guess my luck was about to change...

Hurricane Matthew was quickly gaining notoriety due to his increasing mass and speed. Newscasts, along with social media were providing warnings and updates regularly.  Even though, it was still too early to know the storm's exact path, predictions started flying off the shelves, almost as fast as batteries and bottled water.  There was a sense of quiet panic in the air and it was growing louder by the minute. 

Over the next few days, Matthew barreled his way through the Caribbean leaving devastation and destruction in his wake. Haiti was hit the hardest, with respect to loss of life and news reports were estimating death tolls in the hundreds, possibly more.

Once the storm moved past the Bahamas, it started on a north-west course. When I looked at the forecasted path, it seemed as though Matthew was headed right for my front door!

It was time to start getting prepared.

That's me on the map between Miami and Jacksonville.

Preparations went smoother than expected. Grocery store shelves were emptying fast but I was still able to pick up all of the necessities. In fact, beer and wine were on sale, while the price of water rose steadily. Go figure!

All of my windows already had fixed hurricane protection so I just needed to cover a few paned-glass doors. 



The garage door made me a little nervous because it's not a hurricane rated door and could potentially blow in during the storm.  I grabbed some scraps of lumber that I had laying around and  threw a quick A-frame together, hoping that it would provide additional support. 

I wasn't sure if it would work but it made me feel a little better.  It looked cool too.


The hardest part of the preparation was breaking the news to my First Mate Daisy. 

I explained, that a major storm was on the way and we  would have to cancel her mid-day swim because there was still a lot of work to be done. 

While, she tried her best to conceal her emotions, the concern was written all over her face.  

Deep down, she knew that everything was going to be OK!

There was one final task that had to be completed and the outcome of that effort was anyone's guess.

had to secure my little sailboat...

As many of you already know, my sailboat has been  sitting on blocks in my front yard for quite some time, undergoing restoration. If you read my post, "Carina",  then you may remember that I had to remove and repair the keel because it was in such bad shape. Well, even though, I completed the repair, I haven't re-installed it yet. Re-attaching the keel is one of the final steps of the project since, the hull would need to be painted and I'm just not at that stage yet.

Although, the boat has been on blocks for months now, without incident, this was a bit of a different situation. The absence of the keel's weight (500lbs) is a major concern during hurricane force winds and  I didn't want to wake up after the storm and find the boat overturned in my neighbor's yard. 
Yes, that was a very real possibility at this point. 

There wasn't enough time to re-attach the keel or put the boat back on the trailer so, I would have to figure out a way to secure her in place. 

I started thinking about all the boats that endure storms while they are still on the water. Some make it and some don't, but those that do make it are usually the ones that are relocated to a sheltered cove and anchored at several different positions. This is done to mitigate the impact of extreme winds and high waves.

Well, the only way for me to shelter the boat at this point would be to bring the her inside. I thought about that for a brief moment but knew that she would never fit through my front door.  I guess a sheltered cove was not one of my options. 

 I did have an anchor however!


Once again,  it seemed like a good idea at the moment but I quickly realized that a 5 lb  anchor was not going to be the answer to my problems.

 Instead, I went to the hardware store and picked up several augers, which are  also referred to as "Earth Anchors".  

This just might do the trick! 


On the night before the storm I was on my knees in a gravel driveway driving anchors into the ground. Some of my neighbors thought I was praying that my sailboat wouldn't blow away-  maybe I was a little...

I took some dock lines and secured them to the cleats, just as you would if you were out on the water. 

I was also able to tie down to the trailer and keel for additional anchor points.





Thursday morning October 6, 2016- The calm before the storm...

I woke early the next day and double checked everything I had done the day before. I was  feeling pretty positive despite all of the dire newscasts and warnings. 

I went outside to check the lines on the boat and found myself waving goodbye to several of my neighbors who were heeding the Governor's call for evacuation. 

With a cup of coffee in hand and messy hair, I looked down at Daisy and reassured her that Matthew was no match for us...  She looked back at me with confidence, then tugged in the direction of the fleeing cars.

She must have seen a squirrel or something...


By mid-afternoon the winds picked up and the rain started falling. I gazed at the dark dreary sky and noticed that the sun had held out until the very last moments. I watched quietly, as it slowly faded away, almost as if it were also seeking shelter from the storm...

Later that afternoon, I walked down to the water to evaluate the current conditions. 

Matthew was here! 

The seas were rising and the docks were nearly submerged at this point...

It was time to head back and hunker down for the duration of the storm.


The next few hours didn't seem so bad. It was still light out and I could see the trees swaying in the wind. The rains were moderate to heavy but nothing unmanageable. There were no signs of barns or cattle flying off into the sky so I decided to kick back, have a few beers and simply, ride out the storm. 

Conditions started to deteriorate around 8 PM. I could no longer see anything outside but I could tell it was getting worse by the intensifying sounds of wind and rain. Daisy was pacing anxiously and I was monitoring the newscasts.  

I lost power somewhere around 10:00 PM  so I could no longer depend on the news or social media for storm updates. My cell phone was practically useless because I do not get a clear signal in the house and there was no way I was going to step outside for a few extra bars...  My only source of information at this point, were the ominous sounds of howling wind, torrential rain, and debris crashing in the darkness. Now, I started pacing anxiously...

I tried to get some rest but slept with one eye open. I woke around 11:00 PM and decided to walk around the house to make sure  everything was still in one piece. I grabbed my flashlight and headed towards the kitchen. I noticed a small blue blinking light where the stove sits. I turned off the flashlight just to make sure I wasn't seeing things and the light continued to blink! 

It was the clock on the stove!  I couldn't understand how this was possible, knowing that the power was out and the rest of the house was pitch black? 

Apparently, a portion of the electricity was still on and the outlet for the stove was actually working. It was a stroke of luck and i wasn't about to question it further. I made a mad dash to collect every extension cord I could find.  

Six cords later, my router and modem were connected and I was back online watching the latest storm updates! 

At 11:15 PM, the news reported that the storm continued to wreak havoc with sustained winds of 130 mph. However, the eye remained  approximately 65 miles offshore so we were only experiencing winds around 50-60 mph. Still very strong but not as severe as what was looming just offshore.

This was really good news! If the storm maintained this distance from shore for the rest of the night, we would only be impacted by tropical storm force winds as opposed to Category 4 Hurricane force winds. 

Once again, I tried to get some rest but that just wasn't going to happen. Over the next 45 minutes the gut wrenching sounds grew louder in the darkness. It seemed as though the winds had increased and the crashing of debris was becoming more frequent. I convinced myself that it was just my imagination right up to the moment that I read the following National Hurricane Center update:

"Update, 12 AM: Hurricane Matthew is continuing to move closer to the Florida coastline and is now 60 miles east southeast of Fort Pierce, The storm has winds of 130 mph and is moving northwest at 13 mph, there was also a reported gust of 71 mph in Jensen"

That's when I lost the last bit of power!  

Matthew did not want me anticipating  his every move, so he severed my last link to the outside world. For the rest of the night I would have to rely on my own instincts and hope for the best...

By first light, the rains had subsided and the winds were diminishing. I knew Matthew was gone but still unsure as to the damage he may have left behind. Daisy and I were OK though, so it was time to go assess the situation. 

Now, I know that at this point in the story you would probably like to know whether or not the sailboat made it through the night. Trust me the suspense was killing me too- but who doesn't like a little suspense?  I'll save this part for the end...

Meanwhile, power was still out and I had no running water since the well pump runs on electric.

I did not have a generator so electricity was out of the question. However, I was prepared for the running water dilemma!  Sort of... 

What? It's water and it was running...  I was fine with that.

It was time to venture out in hopes of finding a hot cup of coffee. I assumed there had to be a fast-food place or convenience store that would be operating on a backup generator...  Wishful thinking! 

During my quest for hot coffee I was surprised to see how many cars were actually on the road. Especially, since none of the street lights were working, which made for an interesting driving experience.  

I got lucky though! Instead of sitting at each intersection staring at the confused driver across from me trying to figure out who had the right of way, I decided to get in line behind these guys...

There's no doubt that they were up all night also and desperately searching for hot coffee too! The best part is that everyone yielded the right of way to the Hurricane Research caravan which, I was now happy to be a part of. 

I eventually separated from the caravan because we just weren't finding any coffee. 
While, I'm sure they are experts at chasing storms, I soon realized that  they seriously had no coffee chasing skills. 

In the end, I didn't have much luck on my own either. No matter how many places I tried, no one was open for business. 

While, I'm not the type to quit so easily, I finally gave up my quest after I pulled into this McDonalds drive-through...




OK, Coffee was not in the stars today... Let's go back and check on our little sailboat.

It was a triumphant sight! All the lines held through the storm and she had not shifted so much as an inch on the blocks! 




Battered but not broken, this little boat stood before me like a brave warrior victorious after a ferocious battle! She endured a punishing storm but held the night, with strength, determination, and dauntless conviction that she was destined, to one day sail again....  


Message from The Curious Sailor:

Thanks for reading this post, I hope you enjoyed it! 

Obviously, I was lucky enough to be in an area  that experienced conditions far less severe than many of the other areas along the storm's path. In fact, the biggest impact in my case was merely the inconvenience of having to wait a few days for the utilities to be restored, which by comparison, is no impact at all...

Unfortunately, others were not as lucky and I don't want to lose sight of that in this genial telling of my personal experience! 

Hurricane Matthew will go on record as one of the deadliest storms having already claimed more than 1000 lives-almost all being reported in Haiti...

My thoughts, prayers, and deepest sympathies remain with the victims and their families during these difficult times...

The following link contains information on how to help those who were not as fortunate: