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Posts Tagged ‘sailboat’

Welcome to my new blog. I am happy that you have chosen to follow me to WordPress. It is the summer so we, here on the island are getting our lives in order before another tourist season begins again in the fall.

We are currently dealing with Hurricane season and I am going to make absolutely NO comments about it until it is over.  We are all just hoping to have a quiet summer without any “WEATHER WITH A NAME”.  That is what we call it here in the tropics of Florida.

All this hurricane learning came to me when I began playing in the Florida Keys.  I had a steady weekend night on Big Pine Key at Captain Dan’s Key Deer Bar and Grill.  I played in Key West and Stock Island and Geiger Key Marina down by there.  I had steady week night gigs in Marathon(Vaca Key) at the Overseas Lounge ( been there since the beginning of time I am sure).  The building had 16″ walls.  It used to be the train station there and it was built to last foreeeeever.

Sister Kaite's setup at Captain Dan's Key Deer Bar and Grill

Obviously it was the designated spot for all sailboat owners who live on their boats to crash on the floor there in times of hurricanes.  We came with our “stuff”.  We brought our back packs with all our necessary stuff in them and sleeping bags and pillows.  We only had water in there a couple times while I was there.  Of course because I played there weekly I got to crash in one of the bedrooms upstairs until the bartender came up at 6am to go to sleep.  Although, I was nice enough to play music for them for 16 hours, all day, to keep everybody settled and it was like one big happy family.  I also let people sit in and play all day…we had quite a good jam session going.  One of the owners slipped me some money while I was  playing.  They were very good to me in the Keys.

little palm island florida keys

View from the Stage at Little Palm Island Resort

The business right next door to the bar was called  “The Stuffed Pig”.  That is the best food you can find in Marathon at that time of the morning.  And it is  priced to sell.  Those people could not keep their door unlocked during the storm,s but they were open and would come and let you in and cook for you, and just lock the door again while you were there.  The door was a glass door and it would not stay shut unless it was locked.  They could see through it to see if there was someone standing at the door to get in so it did not matter.  It was not a big place anyway.  In fair weather it had nice little tables outside in the yard and on the patio so you could eat outside.  That place was always packed.  Everyone certainly did use it when there was a storm.

Little Palm Island stage setup

I played everywhere from Key Largo down to Key West.  From some of the bigger hotels to some of the smallest bars…I even played outside at JoJo’s for the Southernmost Chapter of the Abate Club.  It was all fun.  I played benefits for many people and holiday parties.  On St Patty’s day one year I played on 3 different keys in that one day.  I even got to take the employees ferry boat out to play on Little Munson Island at Little Palm Island Resort.  What a great island that would be to live on….if it was not there in the same weather path as the Keys.

I will tell you what.   Every storm that comes anywhere near Florida goes through the Keys at some point.  Whether or not it is before it gets big or after, or if it never turns into a big storm, they ALL go right through there.

I finally came back to my island.  Marco Island has been the best to me.  the Calusa Indians settled here because they say the storms went around it.   I like to believe that is true.

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D dock predaybreak

       I was in my recuperation stage, which only means that I was still living way up in North Naples out in the country back in on two dirt roads…. Where the house I lived in was off a dirt road that was off the dirt road called Rock Road…Most people around here know of the Rock Road.  For some reason it seems like everyone has been there somewhere, or has taken it to somewhere.  All I did was find a beautiful house to live in out there….All new with tile floors, two bedrooms and nothing else around except the main house, and the animals that one could hear in the middle of the night that sounded like you were living in the jungle.  There were wild animals neighbor people had brought in from all over the world, not to mention the wild bore, and the chickens in the barn where I was along with the horses there.  The house had been built for their daughter who did not move into it, so special care was taken in the building of it.

    I loved being out there and I had started a garden with some organic tomato plants before I had finished radiation.  I never got to eat any fruit from those plants because as I finished with my treatments and made it to the Neurologist stage I was too exhausted and heavily medicated to do anything but sleep in my chair, watch the animals eat my tomatoes, and get out of my recliner once a day to get some food for myself somehow, unless someone would bring some to me by chance.

   As I progressed into trying to get out of the chair and exercise one whole minute at a time, this would eventually roll in to two minutes and on up until I could last 20 minutes or more.  I had to start playing again but I could not remember my music so I would practice my songs over and over.  I would play them as far as I could remember them until I could get them played all the way through.  Once I remembered them I wrote them down in a book.  Sometimes I would write only the words because the music was complicated and I had remembered it and gotten it into my head again.  Then for some of the songs I wrote down all the chords and the words so I would not have to try to remember them again.

     Finally I got it together to go back to Goodland and play one day a week.  Before I was ill I had played at Chuckles Pub and Grub ( which was actually called Chuckles Chickee Bar) every Sunday afternoon, and other musicians would come and sit in with me.  It became a very nice jam session.  I was now capable of conducting a jam session again.  I could not carry my equipment but my ex would come and carry my stuff for me for a couple months until I could carry it myself.
     Most of the time my other friends would help me with my equipment at the gig when it was over and I had made some new friends who would also help.
Home in a Fog
        My new sailor friend would say to me, “Do you want to get some food now?” and we would all end up over at the Marco Lodge having drinks and food.
     Sometimes after he took me out to eat, when it was raining my new sailor friend would say to me, “You should not try and drive up across that awful road…. that Immokalee Road to Rock Rd is a death trap.  You can come and stay on the boat.”  And I would take him up on his offer and he would get up and go to work in the morning and let me sleep in.  I was still weaning myself off of some of the very heavy medications which made me so very tired and unable to drink any alcohol at all of course (after surviving all this I did not want my lungs to stop moving or my heart to stop beating due to stupidity).
     It took me six months to get myself off of all that medication they had me taking, but I made it and I was fine….mostly….or at least I had come so far that it seemed like, at this point, I was fine, compared to where I had come from..
      When there is a Tropical Depression that has been named because it has gotten up the strength of 75 MPH, the younger people that live in houses on Marco Island (especially those who work in restaurants and bars), think it is a great time to have a hurricane party.  You see they have to work anyway.  Some people that work in day jobs get to go home and prepare for hurricanes but the crews at bars and restaurants have to be there when the hurricane parties start..
More of the stationary dock
         I always thought of hurricane parties as unnecessary and I would never go because I did not drink.  But this time a hurricane was coming and I had been on a sailboat and was learning how to sail.  And when I was invited to go to a hurricane party at a fellow musicians house with his family and their friends, I went.  Some of the family was at a bar partying and I was at the house with the rest of them.  Then I got a call from my new friend, the sailor.
     He asked me how I was and where was I going to weather the storm.  I was feeding the cat for a friend of mine who was away and she said if there was a storm that I was welcome to go stay in her house.  Well I told my sailor this and then I said but I would rather come and stay on the boat with you.  Now this was certainly shocking news to him because it was very different thinking to believe that anyone would feel safer on a boat than in a house.
     This is the way it looked to me.  I could go to the house all alone for my first hurricane on the island, or I could go to a sailboat with a seasoned sailor who knew what to do….hmmmmm…. Was this really that hard of a decision?…I think not.  I knew that I felt safer with him than by myself….If I had never met him I would have gone to the house of my friend and weathered this new trauma all alone, but I was blessed and did not have to.
         So here we are on the boat and it is raining and pouring and blowing.  As it got later, we talked and discussed the storm, what to do, and played cards.  When it got late enough we laid down in the bed and I went to sleep.  However, he sat up all night, watched the weather and waited so that we would be safe…All he asked, is that if the need be, when he said we have to go that I was packed and ready to go.  To comply, I packed my stuff before I laid down on the bed.
Only part of the dock
         Finally the time came and he said to me, “Kaite, we have to go now.”  Apparently this is all I needed to hear.  He said he had never before, or since, seen me move so fast.  I was up in 2 seconds with my bag in hand and was right behind him, on our way up the companionway through the hatch.
     As we were dismounting the boat, he said to me just come down here to the dock, I’ve got you.  He made this statement because, by now the wind was blowing at 55 mph, the boat was leaning so far to the port side that the floating dock was farther than I could reach with my legs.  We normally dismounted the boat like you would dismount a horse, over the life line to the dock.
         The floating docks (finger piers) we were tied to, led up to the main dock via a ramp securely mounted to each other, but the main dock was NOT A FLOATING DOCK….It was a stationary dock and by this time the tide was so high that the main dock and our feet were under water.  Thank God there was a railing so we could see where to put our feet, and in the middle of the night it was quite dark.
     This was around 4 AM so we drove out of Goodland to Marco Island, and ate breakfast.  By the time we returned to Goodland the water was over the road into Goodland.  We had to drive very slowly through it, as it was deep.  We were in a Ford Explorer so we could attempt this, but behind us was a van which of course did not make it through the deep water and drowned out.
The ramp
        We were the last people to make it back into Goodland before Goodland lost power.  Thank goodness we had eaten by this time. It was time to start our own little hurricane party.  We went right over to Jackie’s Pink House Motel and sat outside with her and the other Goodlanders under cover that joined us in buying up the beer there and drinking it before it got too warm, since we were without electric…This seemed like the only thing to do at this point.
    Most of us were going around to help other people do things like find their belongings when the water started to go down, or put TV’s and such electrical items on the beds and tables so they did not get wet with the water coming into the houses.  Also joining them in helping the people whose houses were on the water sweep the water out of their houses back into the ocean.
     We had at least been smart enough to eat while we could.  Others were scavenging to find food without electricity for the day.  I believe the electric came back on before dark, but when the water went down enough we went back to the boat and cooked because we had an alcohol stove and twelve volt electricity.  All we had to do when the batteries ran down was start the boat and charge them up again.
     I do so love living on the boat.  It has been 6 years already and I have been through almost too many hurricanes to count now, at least 8 that I remember very clearly and I know there were a few blurs.  We and the boat have survived them all.  That says a lot for us.  I think.

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     I was coming back from the head one afternoon and a fellow sailor at our marina mentioned to me that they were going to run and I asked where are you running to…and they said Lake Okeechobee locks…

     This made no sense to me so I mentioned it to Bruce and he wanted to know why they were running and went out to discuss the matter only to find out that the next hurricane Jeanne was also headed our way.  None of us had been informed so we did not have time to get into any of the marinas at this point.

     The cable company in the town did not know enough to change the oil in their generator(s) so they fried them.   Since the last Hurricane, “Frances”, went through right here no one had any news of the coming “Jeanne” Hurricane. Therefor we had not enough time to get hauled out.   Soooooo we hauled our own tails……sailing in a line all having as much fun as you could make a trip to hide from a Hurricane.  We went up through the first lock into Lake Okeechobee and on into Indiantown Marina.

Stormy Weather

     Bruce and I got the last slip there which was not available when we called but when we arrived they gave it to us.  We dragged the sailboat on into the slip because it was so shallow slow and  hard.  We locked down the boat and we tied the lines high as there would surely be more water here after the storm passed.  We carried as much as we could get off the boat by climbing down off the Bow onto crates and then on to the floating dock (if you could call it that).  It was barely floating and definitely not stable but it worked.  The boards would tilt to and fro as we walked along definitely one at a time so to not end up with one or the other of us in the water there. Then we were off to a car that someone had driven there to get us back to our vehicles in Ft Pierce.

     You know they say every time you do something for the first time you are depleting your body’s storage of B vitamins.  Now since they are the ones that keep your nerves settled, among other things, it would seem that we were having quite the stressful month.  

     Then we charged off to Marco Island….as usual.  The native Indians called Calusa Indians, settled on Marco Island because the weather seemed to go around this Island…which is true.  You can now watch it on the radar.  The weather goes right up to Marco and then disappears or goes around it…pretty strange…but good for us.

     As we were driving two SUVs off to Marco we had taken the road just south of the Lake (Okeechobee) and the wind was getting pretty heavy.  Already it was just a little too breezy for me.  But I drove it like a good girl cause I wanted my car out of the storm, and without saltwater in the engine.

     “Jeanne” was no fun either and those who stayed on their boats had quite the time there at Indiantown.  It was great to get out of the normal 8 foot storm surge by being on the inside of the first lock.  Unfortunately no one had mentioned to us that the Lake was going to let water out through the locks to keep the Lake from being too full.  There was our 8 foot surge anyway.  

Oh, and by the way the railroad bridge was now stuck in the down position.  This means that no one with a mast could go through that bridge either.  I realize that the only people who understand my last remark are sailors, but they are the only people who need the bridge to be raised to get under it.

     And when we came back all that were there were soooo exhausted.  They had fought the great battle.  Bruce feels that the only thing we cannot replace is our lives so we take them to safety…always….I have to admit…I agree.

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     I am happy and so proud to have been reared in a state like West Virginia, instead of a big city with 6 or 8 million people and all the hustle and bustle and noise and cement…and no flowers and trees and dirt and animals running around…like they do in West (by God) Virginia. I love the smaller roads (curvy and hilly as they are, you really learn how to be a good driver or else…survival of the fittest there).


Blue Bridges of West Virginia

     We have people who care about each other and go out of their way to help each other in time of need and even not in time of need…just to be nice to one another. Now that is a concept unheard of in most northern big cities…not to put them down…it is just not my way of life….I feel very blessed to have so many friends still in my hometown which I have not gotten to visit for years and still they are my friends…because good friends are for life…they are always there for you as a friend as someone who can be trusted to help you if you need it and you can help them even if they do not need it. Good friends can laugh together (even at each other) , and eat together, shop together, talk about most anything together and care about one another and their families.


     People in West Virginia have been known to help total strangers when they need help. it amazes most city folk. It is very much a blessing to have the very next car that passes by you on the road, to stop and help you if you are pulled over and need something fixed. Even when they do not know you…


     I call it being “Real”. Now most places do not have a “Real” population….Sometimes they have a few nice people or a percentage of nice people, but to have soooo may “Real” people is a blessing. I have been fortunate to find some tropical islands where it is almost like being in West Virginia because there are sooo many “Real” people there and I am blessed with many, many new friends in places like this.


     Since I live on a sailboat, it is a way of life that (most of my female friends absolutely cannot do for the lack of space) comes close to the difference of being from a small country town. It is also a way of life that most people cannot adjust to. I however have traveled for 30 years and lived in hotel rooms..except for when I had my house in West Virginia, (or Chicago and a few other places up North), and there is no space in a hotel room for things that one would store in a house…there is no permanence in a hotel room…and there is no permanence in where one’s boat has to be…I am quite adjusted to travel and a way of life of traveling.


     I am waaaaaay toooo comfortable driving in a car…I have painted my toenails while I was driving and tried on wigs while driving through the Tennessee mountains. And I have read a book while driving through Georgia. I can drive all day set up and play music for hours then put it back into the SUV and drive for 5 or 7 more hours if necessary…I am getting older and do not particularly trust myself to work such long days now though.


     West Virginia is a place for which one can get real homesick. Many people who do go away end up back there because it is just hard to beat. To find somewhere better, depends on what you call better. Tropical Islands are nice because it does not snow in the tropics. I have been down here in the tropics so long I am now acclimated to temperatures above 75 degrees and get cold below that temperature. My blood is very, very thin. I am comfortable in the heat, even the 80’s and 90’s. Even with my white Irish skin, I am lucky so far with the sun and what it has not done to me. I try to take care of my skin when I am outside, especially my lips and keep them covered with gloss and paint. “It’s the little things ” like Rodney Carrington says that one must do and watch.

     Here is a place where it is easy to just live and forget to keep the things you love close by taking care of them. This is what we must all do, no matter where we live…..”Keep the things we love close and take care of them….always.”


(and “There’s no place like home”) right Dorothy?

Love to all.

The Sister

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