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bear by san

March 2017



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bear by san

So, hey. A question for those with more nautical experience than myself.

Say you're in a seaworthy fifty-foot houseboat. Would you rather meet a cyclone moored in a shallow bay with some thoroughly brutal tides (we're not on Earth) or run for it and try to get around the edge of the storm? (It's necessary to the plot that they run for it; I need justifications. *g*)

You've got, oh, fourteen hours warning. There are likely to be tornadoes as well.


They're powered. I'm thinking more or less they look like cabin cruisers.

Excellent; that was the answer I wanted.

with 14 hours warning, my understanding is that you would either try to edge the storm, or drydock. Staying in shallow harbor, especially with bad tides, will probably result in you ending up treebound or otherwise lodged in an awkward place, if not sent into splinters.

But I don't have any actual boat-owning experience, so...
That was my understanding too; I wanted to check with people who have more knowledge than me.

Run for it!
Given the tides in the above equation?

"Mind the markers! The channel's clear out of harbor. Steer for open seas."
thank you!
Run for it, every time. In a shallow bay, a cyclone will wreck you in short order. Get out in deep water; even if you can't skirt the storm, you'll still be safer bobbing about with a few fathoms under your keel.

If you need detailed sailing advice, I have a contact who helped me massively when I dared tackle a story with a yacht at its heart; she'd likely be willing to do the same again.
Nope, I just needed to know if the premise upon which I've hung my entire nearly-completed novel works or not. *g*


Thank you.
Yeah, the tides and shallow bay would suggest heading offshore. Most "houseboats" don't qualify as seaworthy, though. Live-aboard yachts, either power or sail, still don't get called "houseboats."
Well, we mostly don't build cities on Earth by mooring a bunch of cabin cruisers in the same general vicinity and living in them. *g* (They actually don't call them houseboats either, but that's besides the point.)

I was thinking, more or less, of the Busted Flush. Which I think does get called a houseboat, fairly frequently.
My only experience is via a friend who owned a houseboat in Hong Kong, and they were told to get all the boats to the nearest typhoon shelter asap, otherwise they risked being wrecked. So I'd suggest neither - but your planet might not have typhoon shelters (and if not, why not?)
It lacks much in the way of solid ground. *g*
thanks. And thank him for me too.
The deeper the water, the larger the mass to displace. You can see the effect with two batches of jello - You get lots and lots of jiggle on the surface of jello cooled on a cookie sheet than you do on the jello cooled in a bowl.
I'm not familiar with the concept of "sea-worthy houseboat", but based on my own personal sailboat experience -- hell, yes! I'd run for it.

Look to the sailboats that fled Katrina for inspiration.

i'd "run" like hell

and in case it's material to the story, "run" will be awfully slow if the boat in question has a displacement hull. our 42 ft ex-fishing troller has a hullspeed of 1.34 * sqrt(42) = 8.7 knots; that's a whopping 16 km/hour.
In the words of all the other advisors, Get Out.

At sea the issue is 'can we not sink?'.

Near shore the issue is 'Will we hit something then sink or vice versa?'.
The boat I use at Lake Powell (houseboat - 50' barge type) is a pain in the ASS when we get afternoon monsoons (we call them - really just 40-60mph gusts and splattering heavy hot rain - lightening/thunder) We're usually moored on a sand/rock shore with four tie lines from each corner (bow in) with the landing points of each line attached to an anchor that is buried in sand or wedged behind rock and has rocks over it - they can still pull loose and then you're f'd if you get blown in sideways.

I prefer to be in open water afternoons, but sometimes you can't be. The depth of Powell prevents some really huge waves though.

Now that the water levels are so low - you have to go through this cut channel to get to the lake from where the marinas are and that thing is a nightmare - it's like a washing machine with all the wakes building and bouncing off the rock walls. I've gotten swamped there. Large cruisers like to cut wake across the bow of the houseboats, which floods the flat prow area and can tilt you to a 40 degree angle (it feels like 80 when it happens. The water drains, but it takes a bit and if you were to get hit a few in a row - you'd take on too much water and it would get into the cabin area and then your pumps would have to ship it out.

Having a better front end - like a cabin cruiser would help this.

And these houseboats do have motors - usually two covered outboards (90s or 150s) Flat out speed on smooth lake would be about 10 mph.

For a Powell storm, if there were storm like that - I'd find a deep water canyon and try to stay near to the sheltering wall without being tied to anything. (A danger with this is something that happens to newbies all the time, moor beneath a canyon wall and when it starts to rain - realize you are now at the catch end of a brand new temporary waterfall) If everything were flat - I'd probably go to the deepest water with the most forgiving shores... racking up on some mud and grass being far preferable to rocks.

I have a friend who was living on a houseboat on Lake Pontchartrain when Katrina hit. She was a very foolish person and not only did she leave her boat in harbor, she didn't evacuate until the storm was on her and she had to be rescued off the roof of the community center where she worked. As far as what happened to the househoat in a shallow marina... well... they found her toilet brush. And eventually the hull. But it took a while.

For the record, hers was more of the flat barge with a house on top sort of houseboat, but she did have an engine and bilge pumps and a cute little pilot house/room with radar and radio and all that.
14 hours warning? Plenty oh time to GTFO!

The houseboat

I don't know, but doubt, if a houseboat can run for it. Certain destruction if it doesn't. You are moored on a lee shore. Get out, as far to windward of the shore as you can. You won't outrun or get around the storm, but you will have some small chance of surviving. Moored as you are, you have absolutely none. What sort of power does the houseboat have? An outboard motor to putt-putt from one mooring to another? Goodbye and farewell, ye ladies of wherever. I think your best shot is to leave the houseboat and run like hell inland. Best of luck! silk_noir put me up to post this. She thinks I know everything she doesn't which is bloody little.

Re: The houseboat

I direct you to the key word "seaworthy," and some of the discussion above. *g*

Thank you for your comment, though! It's information that may come in handy in another book down the line.