"Aren't you cold?"
If there is one question I am asked more than any other, this is it - by a mile. Even when I took a break from writing this to meet some friends out at the local pub, I got a "must be chilly, no?" To the uninitiated, sure, I can see where this would come from. We tend to stay away from the oceans and rivers during the winter months; it's windy, cold, icy and snowy after all. This is my second year living aboard, so I've learned a few tricks :)
Everything is a little more difficult during the winter months. Water is a challenge because sources are shut off to avoid freezing the lines. Diesel fuel has to be added by jerry can every week to power the Dickinson diesel stove. Clothes tend to pile up everywhere as you are just wearing more layers.
Once inside however, the aforementioned Dickinson stove keeps the boat nice and toasty. I run that along with one oil filled electric radiator, and it's been fine, even when temperatures have dipped down to 0F (-17C). Along with sealing off any drafts I could find, and a tip from Ben Erikson over a Sailing, Simplicity and the Pursuit of Happiness to use some eva foam closed cell gym flooring to help insulate the cabin sole, the boat routinely sits at close to 70F. An electric blanket up front in the forepeak where I sleep helps make it a pleasurable night.
One thing that helps make the winter go by a lot quicker is community. I'm lucky to have two guys, Mike and Jason, who have endured the challenges along with me. We help each other with various projects throughout the winter, cook meals that we all share, and provide each other with an uplifting dose of humor on a daily basis. We had a line splicing night to try and keep adding more skills to the toolbox. Mike has been playing around with LED's all winter and Jason is bound to tear apart, improve, and put back together a major system on the boat at any given moment. One of us is always around to look after the boats if anyone is away.
Mid-way through February, the feeling is that we've almost made it through. Even after two pretty nasty winter storms in 3 days, the days are getting longer and it's nearly time for spring cleaning, varnishing, painting, and everything else that needs to be done to get these boats ready for what they do best; sail.
Photo 1: The "three amigos" side by side, by local artist and photographer Davison Bolster.
Photo 2: The Dickinson Diesel stove in action.
Photo 3: Looking into Zennure from the companionway.