Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Staying Afloat

Posted @ 2:05 PM

"We're all in the same boat so to speak," says Sam Clark of Julian.

He's speaking literally and figuratively of the county's evacuees and other residents weathering the firestorm. Literally, for him and his wife, Erika, who were forced to evacuate their home Tuesday and have moved to their 40-foot Catalina sailboat, docked at Sunroad Resort Marina on Harbor Island.

The couple and their dog, Rocky, an Australian Sheppard and border collie mix, are old salts at sitting out fires on the boat. They lived aboard for three months during the Cedar Fire, which claimed their home. Sam Clark says he's still wearing some of the clothes donated by caring San
Diegans back then.

The couple, which have been living in their new house for the last two years, are hoping the capricious winds spare it this time.

The Clarks realize they're lucky in many ways. While so many San Diegans are roughing it in evacuation centers, the retired couple, who have been married 47 years, are "camping in luxury." But, they say, even a sailboat with two staterooms, two heads, a TV and a VCR gets "awfully small" after a few months.

The 610-slip marina, which normally has only about 25 live-aboards, has swelled to hundreds of evacuated boat owners, family and friends and dozens of normally unwelcome
dogs, according to Scott MacLaggan, marina manager. Some owners have opened their boats to strangers.

But despite the numbers, the atmosphere at the dock is reserved. No one feels like partying. "People are not happy, because they're worried about their houses," MacLaggan says.

The situation is similar at other local marinas. Jane Stewart, leasing agent at Harbor Island West Marina, which has 620 slips, estimates the live-aboard population doubled starting Sunday night. "We had quite the kennel out here the other morning." By Tuesday, though, evacuees were starting to return home Tuesday.

Chula Vista Marina, which has 552 slips, also has seen an increase in live-aboards. Marina manager Dave Poret is obviously proud of his owners, who have opened their boats to strangers. He says one owner of 37-foot sailboat has taken in two families. Another owner, whose son was in Iraq, has taken him in as well as several of his Marine friends.

The marina also has invited people with RVs into its parking lot.

"Thank goodness for the marina," Sam Clark says.

By Marsha Kay Seff, Eldercare Editor

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Maybe it's time to find a new hobby - bocce ball. You'll like the price - free.