• Losing electricity is especially inconvenient for the floating homes community because of the inability to flush our toilets. Our holding tanks must be emptied by electronic pumps, or they will overflow. Video: watch the How To Houseboat video for practical information about our waste water systems. When the power goes out, homeowners should go onto the dock and turn off their water, so we can’t possibly make the mistake of flushing or running any other water until the juice goes back on. As the late Plumber Michael (Pump-A-Turd) Peterson put it, “the inconvenience of turning off your water is far less than the hassle of cleaning up after an overflow.” When we have some warning that an outage may occur, you can empty your tank in advance. Most holding tanks hold 30+ gallons of waste water, and the average flush of a low-flow toilet is less than 2 gallons. So an empty tank could accommodate a dozen flushes – or more if you’re feeling brave. Here’s how to do it. Some newer pumps have a remote switch which allows you to turn it on manually. Otherwise, find the power cord for your holding tank’s pump. Notice that there are two cords, attached to a tandem plug (see accompanying photos). The “A” plug goes into the socket and powers the pump, while the “B” plug powers an internal on-off device. Remove the “A” plug, separate them, and insert the “B” plug directly into the socket. That will activate the on-off device. Let the pump run a few seconds until you hear a “whoosh” when it’s completely empty. Then reverse the procedure and insert the “A” plug back in the socket, then the “B” plug into the “female” portion of the first one. It might be a good idea to practice this procedure so you can do it smoothly in a blackout.

  • We don’t realize how dependent we are on power until we are without it. Power affects the electricity we get in our homes, as well as the water supply and transportation systems – from traffic lights to dock lights. Power failures and blackouts can occur due to problems at power stations, damage to equipment, or the overuse of energy in a particular area – such as during a heat wave if residents are running air conditioners on high all day and night. Power failures can occur during storms, heavy winds, strong winds, flooding and mud slides. In 2019, PG&E announced that it may be necessary to turn off electricity in the interest of public safety. When wind is high and conditions are dry, they will send out alerts to customers of a pending Public Safety Power Shutoff at 48 hours, 24 hours, and just prior to shutting off power. The community learned a great deal of lessons during the October 2019 PG&E Power Shutoff. Click here to read all the comments, covering topics on food safety, lighting ideas, charging cellphones and laptops, communications, waste management, generators, bathing, helpful support, and marina-specific suggestions. Solutions and questions to answer are on the final page. Your best bet is to be prepared for power failures so you and your family can be safe and secure. Before a power failure: Build an emergency kit. Make a family communications plan. If you know a public safety power shutoff or rolling blackout will occur, fill plastic containers with water and place them in your refrigerator and freezer. The chilled or frozen water will help keep food cold during a short power outage. Empty your holding tank, so you can flush a few times. During a power failure: Don’t open the fridge or freezer! You’ll let out whatever cold air is inside and food will spoil more quickly. Leave one light on so that you’ll know when the power comes back on. Only use flashlights, not candles. The flame from a candle could start a fire in your home. If it’s very hot outside, try to stay cool by going to the lowest level of your home. Cool air falls, hot air rises. Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing and drink plenty of water, even if you don’t feel thirsty. If it’s very cold outside, wear many layers of warm clothing. Don’t use your gas oven as a source of heat. The fumes could be dangerous. Try to find a place that has power and go there to stay warm. After a power failure: Don’t eat any food that was in the refrigerator if you were without power for more than half a day – spoiled food could make you sick. Want to print this information in a handy four-page document? Download complete guidelines about power outages designed for our floating home community.

  • Are you ready for winter? Here are some tips that should help you get ready: Before the Storm Keep important documents like insurance policies in a safe deposit box. Consider flood insurance if you are in a high-risk flood area. Know safe routes from your work to your home. Discuss emergency plans with your family. Pre-arrange a contact person or volunteer to assist you during emergencies. Post emergency numbers near the telephone and in your mobile phone. Store the following supplies at work, home and in your car: First aid kit and essential medicines Food (packages, dried, canned and for special diets) Non-electric can opener Cash (ATMs may not be working) Portable radio, flashlights, extra batteries (stored in a water-tight plastic bag) Drinking water stored in closed, clean containers (allow one gallon per person per day for at least three days) Keep plywood, plastic sheeting, lumber and other emergency building materials handy for waterproofing. Keep your car fueled in the event that filling stations are inoperable. Help prevent storm drain blockages by keeping leaves and other debris out of gutters and catch basins. Just before the storm, empty your holding tank, so you can flush a couple of times, if you lose power. During the Storm Tune to local radio or television stations for emergency information and instructions from local authorities. Share emergency information you receive with your neighbors. If flooding is likely, and time permits, move valuable household possessions from the floor. If advised by local authorities to leave your home, move to a safe area before access is cut off. Do not try to enter areas blocked off by local authorities. Do not try to drive across a flooded road, you could become stranded. Weather information can be obtained online from the National Weather Service. After the Storm Stay tuned to designated radio or television stations for information and instructions from local authorities. Avoid disaster areas; your presence could hamper rescues and other emergency operations. Use flashlights not lanterns, matches or candles, to examine buildings; flammables may be present. Avoid downed power lines and broken gas lines. Report them immediately to 9-1-1. Do not handle live electrical equipment in wet areas. If electrical equipment or appliances have been in contact with water, have them checked before use. Do not turn gas back on yourself. Call PG&E and then wait for a PG&E crew. Do not consume fresh or canned foods that have come in contact with floodwaters; they may be contaminated.

  • Living on a floating home requires certain knowledge about these unique homes. You can find some information below as well as on the Emergency Preparedness page. Hull Protection Assessment Results (PDF) Cathodic Protection Evaluation and Preliminary Design Survey (PDF) Emptying the Holding Tank (visit the emergency preparedness page to see an informative video)

  • WHO TO CALL? For any emergency, including fire and sinking houseboat: from a Landline, dial 911 or from a cellphone, dial 415-472-0911 Emergency Preparedness Chair Flo Hoylman 415-332-1043 The Emergency Preparedness Committee of the FHA organizes various activities within our community to promote preparedness for emergencies such as fire, storms, and high tides. What is CERT? CERT Training Dates Winter Storm Prepared Emptying the Holding Tank Prepare for Power Failures and Shutoffs Emergency Prep Made Simple Getting Prepared Toilet Double Buckets At various trainings, residents have learned (and sometimes re-learned) how to pull out the hoses and turn on the nozzles. Representatives from the Marin City Fire Department have covered care and use of fire extinguishers/smoke detectors, how to shut off gas and electricity, and have discussed emergency contacts and answered questions.​ The Floating Homes Association now owns two high volume pumps to be used in the event of a sinking emergency. The pump is stored at the Marin City Fire Department and will be brought to an emergency site by calling 911 (if using a landline) OR dial 415-472-0911 when using a cellphone. Emergency preparedness activities by the FHA and residents may help prevent many of the disasters that have, from time to time, been visited upon the entire California coast.

  • FAQ

    Does the tide come in every day? Not only every day, but twice a day the entire San Francisco Bay rises and falls as much as 2 to 8 feet, fed by the tides from the Pacific Ocean outside the Golden Gate. The moon influences these tides; as long as the moon rises and falls, so will the tides. What happens to the sewage? Every home is equipped with a holding tank containing a pump connected to a flexible green hose, which is connected to the dock, which leads to shore. All the drains in the home lead to this holding tank. Nothing is allowed to go over the side into the water. How can concrete float? On many of these floating homes, what looks like concrete foundations are really the concrete barges. The homes will float when the tide is high enough. All will sit on the mud when the tide is out far enough. What about the long walk out the dock in the rain? It rains at night, while you are at work, on weekends when you are out playing, etc. How often are you going to get caught in our infrequent storms? Can’t deny it. Sometimes you are going to be carrying a bag of groceries (or two), the wind and rain come up, there goes your umbrella and you’re not to your house yet. Think of it as a brief, close, intense relationship with Mother Nature. How are floating homes taxed? Floating homeowners pay personal property tax at the same rate as your property taxes ashore: One percent of assessed valuation. On houses and property, it is called a secured property tax. On floating homes, as well as mobile homes, boats and airplanes, it is called unsecured property tax, mainly because the taxed item can literally be moved around. What is the berthage fee? The floating marina can be compared to mobile home parks; the residents own their homes, and rent the berth or slip from a landlord. The landlord owns the land under the marina, the docks, the utility lines under the dock, the parking lots, and the maintenance obligation for all these facilities. Berthage or slip fees are calculated according to the size of the berth, the size of the floating home, the distance from shore, etc. The fee varies widely, but many fees are in the $1,000 per month range, and cover water, garbage, sewage, parking and common area maintenance. Are floating homes always damp? Is your house always damp? No different. As long as there are no leaks in the roof, siding, windows, etc. and the boat has a heating system for the days you would usually use a heating system, our homes are no damper then what you would expect in a land based dwelling. Are floating homes environmentally correct? Of course. Consider these points. Floating home living is generally compact living; thus, there is a more efficient use of heat, light, water, and living space in general. There are no impervious driveways or thirsty lawns. Parking is concentrated in lots as compact as possible, and many residents walk or bike to the grocery store, library and shops. And, the docks are elevated, so natural life can continue under the dock surface. Floating homes are ready for sea level rise, one of the results of climate change. The newest dock, the Charles van Damme, was designed so that its utilities rise and fall with the bay. How does one acquire a floating home? Floating homes are bought and sold like any other property. There are floating home realtors, they are listed on the Multiple Listing System, and there are often notices and offers posted on the bulletin boards at the front of each dock for both sales and rentals.

Visit Us On FacebookVisit Us On Youtube