Reflections on loss post Hurricane Ian

Ben Stein

Ben Stein

Publisher of Panbo.com, passionate marine electronics enthusiast, 100-ton USCG master.

26 Responses

  1. Wow. Sad to see.

    Luckily no-one got hurt here and no loss of life. So I guess that is a reason to feel grateful, not everyone was as lucky. Imagine what could have happened if you tried to “save” the boat!

    I’m sure the community in the marina will spring back. The owners will definitely need your as customers!

  2. Austin Bliss says:

    I’m happy to hear you are all safe but sorry for your loss!

    Thank you for sharing such a thoughtful writeup and photos. It’s a good reminder that no marina is totally safe from Mother Nature.

  3. Ben, Thank you for sharing your story and glad you are all safe. I hope one day you can look back on this from the deck of your next boat and know it all worked out.

  4. Rick Garvin says:

    Ben, the pain will remain, but become an echo. The great memories will remain. We lost our sailboat in hurricane storage on land on St. Thomas to Irma and Maria. Insurance helped with the pain. The devastation from direct hits from two Cat 5 hurricanes was biblical. But, the community came together and helped everyone.

    Five years later we heard from an acquaintance that he was restoring a boat like ours in that same boat yard. It was our old sailboat that had been a total constructive loss. Hull repaired, engine rebuilt, new electric and plumbing, and a complete redo of the interior. She’ll be participating in the Boy Scouts summer sailing program next year. Time heals.

  5. Mick Anderson says:

    Ben etc. – so sorry to hear about the boat – on your loop , your large water condo stood out as it charged around – it can be replaced by a decent boat – a trawler I think.
    I think your family is the strongest – probably as a result of your water travels – and you will prevail.

    Mick

  6. Ben Stein Ben Stein says:

    One of the bright spots for us post hurricane is that our 22-foot center console was in my building for the storm. The building, and the boat, were undamaged. As soon I can figure out where to launch the boat and when the waterways are safe, I’ll be back on the water.

    I have a lot of testing lined up and I’m looking forward to getting back to what I love to do.

    -Ben S.

  7. Maryellen Hofmann says:

    Ben,
    Your thoughtful and well articulated article touched my heart. It also brought a greater appreciation for your family’s chosen lifestyle these past years. Honestly, I hadn’t thought much beyond the loss of Have Another Day itself. This piece provided a broader perspective. Our thoughts continue to be with the Steins and your extended marina family as you navigate the days ahead.

  8. Gary says:

    Ben & family.
    The loss you have experienced is tough. I can speak from the experience after losing a 44 DeFever in a storage building fire 3 years ago. Your words summarized the loss eloquently. For your kids it will be like selling the home they grew up in. It hurts but they get on with things. For you and Laura it is tougher because of everything you enjoyed with them while on the boat. One of the toughest parts for me and likely you as well is the loss of everything in the boat. For a couple of years I would think of something I needed usually a tool or for my wife some piece of clothing and think about why I couldn’t find it and then realize it was on the boat and lost. I feel your loss and it will get easier every day. Wishing the best to you and your family working your way through this.

  9. Paul Handel says:

    This is a poignant commentary about our impotence related to weather. I lost my second sailboat in Alicia in 1983. Although not liveaboards, the immediate sense of loss was profound. The great news is that the Steins will recover and rebuild. Godspeed and thank you.

  10. Tom McD says:

    Ben, be thankful that you are in the people in the tiers below you, it’s not news that many lost more, and have more tears. You have a great attitude, your Family is safe, and life goes on. Best wishes for an emotional recovery and finding your next boat! Tom McD

  11. Thank you for sharing your raw emotions. Your pictures make it real. We were on D dock Jan-Mar this year and became part of that community family. We resumed our Loop in April and are now home in Wisconsin. The day before we left Legacy your daughter and friend delivered to us a “boatload” of goodies which I froze and we enjoyed all the way to Canada. Those two young ladies were so nice and very polite. Even though we’d only been there 3 months, it was very hard to leave the exceptionally friendly people who allowed us into their community. We wish you and your family well in your future decision making.

  12. Greg says:

    Hello Ben, I used to read your tests regularly (I liked them) and “have another day” was the link that united us. so I am extremely sad for you and your family, but so happy to know you are safe and sound! our Earth is crazy…
    friendly thoughts for you all.
    Gregoire from France

  13. Charles Williamson says:

    Ben, 1st time poster with a boat in Port Labelle. 1st, so glad you and family are OK and recovering from your loss. 2nd, I thought, from a phone call after power/communications were restored that our boat hadn’t had any damage. A phone call yesterday changed that but not to the extent of your loss. We’ll have to replace a HardtoTop and the Bimini framing for it, 3 Xantrex solar panels attached to it and since the marina doesn’t have any dock power, quite possibly 6-L16 AGM batteries. I may have to also replace a Wi-Fi booster. No, I won’t trade you. We are in PA right now, so I am working through a local to check the boat and see if there is anything else that was missed with the dockmasters check. Quite a mess and a long time before any semblance of normalcy is returned. Amazing that we are just about to finish our Loop next year in the Chesapeake after taking 7yrs at this point to get to FL and no issues. Get me out of FL, please.
    I do have a question though. What caused your boat sink? Was the hull pierced? Abundant rain? It is amazing how these storms work. 1 of your pictures shows boats across the marina that look like they didn’t suffer any damage.
    I can suggest that while your marina is being repaired that you start to get on the phone to find another marina. Not seeing the damage 1st hand, I would still imagine a year or more for marina repairs so if/WHEN you get another boat, you’ll need a place to keep it.
    Best of luck in the coming months with your boat search and acclimation to land living, I’m sure all will work out.
    Remember, with life, usually when 1 door closes another will open and my guess is that Have Another Day II will be an even better boat.
    Keep up your good work. Take care & stay safe out there.

  14. Ted Grossman says:

    So sorry for you guys. It’s incomprehensible to me — your line about everything reduced to chaos hits. I hope you can stay on the water.

  15. Steve Smith says:

    Ben – so sorry to hear that you lost your boat, but glad to hear that you are all safe. What a tragedy for you and all of the other folks affected by Ian. You make a good point about community. I am sure that you will find a new one – hoping it happens sooner rather than later.

  16. Juan Herrera says:

    Hello Ben,

    First of all I just want to say I’m so sorry for all you have to go through with your family and friends. I live in Sarasota with my family and we know exactly what you were going thru by following the NHC during Ian’s disastrous path moves.

    I don’t own a boat and probably never will but I do own an RV and we have a lot of emotional connection to it by the exact same things that you mention you and your family spent with that particular boat you guys lost. With my family always wondered, when visiting Marina’s, if people with boats felt the same way we feel about our RV, do they know all the laughs that were shared in there? All the emotions that you go through when re-upholstering the couch and seeing installed there in the living room and how much it changes the whole room now? Do they feel the same way, when you travel, to have the same pillows the same sheets anywhere you go and still feel at home like you haven’t even moved even when you look through the window and see a completely different scenario? Mmmm do we invest this amount of money in upgrading this fridge or should we go with a newer boat or RV?

    This post you’ve made makes me feel that you feel the same way about Have Another Day the same way we feel about Dorma, our 30 years old RV, it is part of our family, is like losing a member of the family and while not alive it is difficult to express that to the world. Some people will tell you that you should be happy about all members of your alive family to be OK and fine and that is true, but on the other hand part of your lives is also gone, an important one, that piece of wood and fiberglass allowed you and your family to have that many laughs aboard, that many conversations with your family so many meals that got you even closer as a family and so much more.

    We were worried about our Dorma as well and we discussed at length what we would do if we lose it to Ian, 10 minutes later we were on our way to pick Dorma up from our lot in Arcadia, FL and droving away from the hurricane. On our way back that lot had 12′ of water thanks to the Myakka River overflowing. That water took almost 10 days to go down.

    I really hope you guys have the chance to go back to another vessel and still have the time to mourn Have Another Day at the same time. In the same way when family members leave our lives remember Haver Another Day on their best days, when it was full of sounds, kids running around love and happiness on board.

    Wish you the best!
    Juan

  17. Mick Anderson says:

    Just to add to Juan’s comment, I had an unfortunate incident on Lake Michigan at 2am last weekend, heading south to beat bad weather. I ran into a 1200ft long fishing net which tangled up both props, leaving me dead in the water. The Coastguard were kind enough to send a boat out, but despite 2 hours of cutting, the boat wouldn’t move under tow. The chief insisted that I leave the boat and return to port with them. I collected my toothbrush and razor and was filled with emotion as we left my ‘house’ for seven years all alone in the lake. Fortunately, I managed to procure 2 divers the following day and the boat is now safely back in port.
    I cannot imagine how you felt when taking that photo of the swimming salon.
    However, you have the strength of the family around you and prevail you shall.
    ps – I can’t believe that your slip of a daughter is now 15.

    • Ben Stein Ben Stein says:

      Mick,

      You mentioned you couldn’t imagine how it felt to take the picture of the flooded salon. That brings up an interesting thing I’ve noticed. Each time I’ve been to the boat, it’s been fairly unemotional. My most recent visit did leave me with a feeling of sorrow for what the boat had been through. It’s an inanimate object, but it’s served us so well.

      But, looking at the pictures some days later is another story. As I see pictures of the boat in better times and then look at the recent pictures, it’s very tough. Made more so by the reality of not having a boat to which we can return. We’re currently in our RV, travelling for a few more days before returning to Fort Myers. I think we’re all dreading that return and the return to our new reality.

      -Ben S.

  18. Bill K says:

    Any update on how it sank? Holed from the docks breaking loose?

    • Ben Stein Ben Stein says:

      Yes, I’m pretty sure I understand what happened. Like most failures of engineered systems, it was a multi-step evolution. Legacy Harbour was completed 24 years ago with the then state-of-the-art Bellingham floating concrete docks. 60′ concrete pilings were used and these were driven at least 30 feet into the bottom of the harbor. The result, was pilings that sat about 12-14 above the dock’s surface.

      In the 24 years the marina was around, a lot was learned about how to best prepare for and ride out storms. After some of the early storms, the marina staff learned that the safest plan was to remove all boats from the span of D dock that runs parallel to the river. In the picture above, that’s the long span of dock on the right side of the picture. That left D to act as a floating breakwall and knock down the worst of the seas that come in during a storm. The storm surge was estimated to be around 12.5 feet during the storm. In addition, there were very large seas in the river. Those large seas lifted D dock over the pilings and allowed it float free. D dock broke up as it floated off and mostly ended up in the park to the northeast of the marina.

      Without D to protect the other docks, they became very vulnerable. With 140 mph winds and six to ten foot (I’ve heard lots of numbers and seen some video that make it safe to say at least six foot) seas battering the remaining docks and the large boats tied to them, it was only a matter of time until the remaining docks failed. The main impact of the forces on the section of dock Have Another Day was secured to, was to force the entire dock towards shore and the marina office building. That force shoving the docks towards shore and breaking up the docks also caused the 60 foot pilings sunk more than 30 feet below the surface to eventually lay over. I’d estimate the piling on our finger pier laid over 40 degrees or so.

      Our slip also had a wooden center piling intended to allow better securing the boat and to provide separation (and potentially protection) from the boat sharing the well. That center piling was wooden and in normal conditions only protruded 6-8 feet above the water’s surface. Before the storm hit, I lost some sleep over that piling. I didn’t want to tie the boat too securely to the piling because as the water came up, I knew the piling would be under water and I didn’t want the port bow held down by it. I eventually decided to run a line from a mid-ship cleat to the bow cleat around the backside of the piling, but not to wrap the line around the piling for fear of it binding.

      In the end, I think my lines were irrelevant. When the concrete piling on our starboard side leaned to port, it allowed the bow of the boat to float to port. The water was high enough that the center piling was under water. I believe the bow floated over the center piling and then the violence of the storm battered the boat up and down on the piling, eventually holing the bow and sinking the boat.

      In my estimation, the engineering of the marina was pretty sound. Unfortunately, the larger and larger storms we’ve had recently proved too much for the quarter century-old engineering assumptions. The main pilings need to be taller and larger. The center pilings probably should be at the same height as the main pilings. I’m certainly hopeful Legacy will be rebuilt, and we will have the opportunity to see how the engineering will be updated.

      -Ben S.

  19. Bill K says:

    Ugh, that’s terrible. Thanks for the insightful post-action assessment on it.

  20. Fred Boykin says:

    Hi Ben, thank you for your reflections on your family’s loss and the destruction of Legacy Harbour Marina. So many slip mates lost boats and a lifestyle at “our marina”. Our Grand Banks 42C, Hannah Jane, was lifted out yesterday (10/28). She was rolled on her port side and partially flooded – a wreck. I was able to only safe a few memories. Not sure what we will do next. All the best.

  21. Thatcher Harvey says:

    I understand the emotions of a boat loss. In the mid 90’s the Seattle area had a two day snow storm with rain mixed in that put an immense load on the roofs of many of the covered marinas in the area. Because all the docks are floating, many were pushed below water level and were held up only by the dock lines of the boats. Others collapsed on top of the boats and sank many. One of my good friends had a 30′ Chris Craft bull nose which was his home and it had sunk. After it was raised and set on shore, I went to see it. As an engineer, I expected to have a somewhat analytical inspection of the damage. As soon as I saw it, I burst into tears. It was truly like seeing a living thing that was mortally wounded.

    • Ben Stein Ben Stein says:

      Have Another Day was raised on Monday of this week. I’ve been through it a few times now and it’s an experience I don’t wish on anyone. I know there are plenty of people who can relate, who have experienced similar loss, but going through the boat is tough. Seeing the places we used to live, destroyed, is tough. Seeing our things caked in mud, growth, and more is difficult. I’m also saddened by the dead fish throughout the boat. I think they serve as a reminder of the toxicity of the boat’s sinking. It’s very sad what that many sunk boats have done to the waters of the Caloosahatchee River.
      -Ben S.

  22. Doug Dean says:

    Sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing about living on the boat and about this horrible disaster. I am currently boatless as we decided the cost of maintaining and storing our 29′ Regal was too much for our retirement income (let alone premium fuel costs!). We still enjoy reading Power and Motoryacht with the hope that maybe someday we can get another vessel. Wishing all the best to you and your family and keep on boating!

  23. Alexa Ayoti Alexa Ayoti says:

    I think they serve as a reminder of the toxicity of the boat’s sinking. It’s very sad what that many sunk boats have done to the waters of the Caloosahatchee River.

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