On night early this winter, I returned home to my sailboat, Daphne after a long busy day. A bit grouchy, I was eager to warm up my boat and spend a cozy evening with Dory, my cat. This experience of transitioning to life on a boat has shed a bright light on the things that I had once taken for granted.
As a schoolteacher at a boarding school, I could rely on many things; a steady paycheck that covered my needs, a warm apartment, food, shower, and friends. Now, without a steady job and in debt, I am wondering how I ever assumed that would always be my truth. Here, with the transient life aboard things are not the same. However, it is the life I chose, and I am eager to continue this path, but I may need some time settling into it before it begins to bring more satisfaction than the blues. And I am hopeful.
So that night, I returned home with the images of a warm cabin, a cup of cocoa, and a cozy kitty swimming in my head. I began the work of heating up my boat. I have a small electric heater on the sole of my cabin and a more powerful kerosene heater as well. Still in my snow-pants, scarf, hat, and puffy jacket, I turned on the electric heater opened hatches to bring in oxygen as I readied the kerosene heater. Many salty sailors have forewarned me of the consequence of not ventilating well when burning the kerosene heater. The promise of eternal rest has me paranoid enough to over ventilate. And then, with the cold snowy air blowing though my cabin, I poured alcohol into my heater’s priming cup, struck a match, and set it aflame.
The warmth from the burning alcohol is designed to heat up a pipe carrying kerosene. By doing so, when the jet is opened, the kerosene will spray out as a gas instead of a liquid, which will burn a nice, small, but powerful blue flame for warmth.
Perhaps because I was a little to eager to get the heater going, I failed to warm the stove enough. It was another Heinz Ketchup lesson that “Good things come to those who wait.” I need to practice patience more. When I opened the jet and lit the kerosene instead of seeing the lovely little blue flame, tall yellow flames sprung out. Startled, I jumped back. The flames were accompanied by a whooshing sound and black smoke that was reminiscent of that which poured from the windows of my family home during that holly jolly Christmas Eve.
My cat began darting around the boat, looking for cover. I turned off the heater and fanned the smoke vigorously, attacking back as it sneaked into my nostrils and stung the back of my throat. It sounds grim, and for a moment, a very brief moment, it felt grim. But smoke has a way of knowing it isn’t welcome, and fights to find the quickest way out. The air quickly cleared and left Dory and I huddled by the electric heater on the sole of the boat. I waited there for a while, then tried the kerosene heater again. This time, not feeling as chilly, I was able to be more patient and wait that extra thirty seconds for the heater to prime well and be warm enough to send forth the cozy blue flame.
Since that night, I have had much success with the kerosene heater, and the days have grown colder. Now when I enter a room where a furnace quietly and without notice fills the room with warmth, I am filled as well, feeling lucky that keeping warm is one thing I know not to take for granted, and that I also am fortunate enough to have a warm place to call home.
HI Teresa, I had a little time to get on line and read your up dates, they put a smile on my face, they kinda brought back some memories of my first few months living aboard. I hope you had a wonderful Christmass, and you also have a great new year. You and Dory try and stay warm ok 🙂 Take care silly.
Steve 🙂 on Sasi
Ahoy Teresa, with each new experience, comes the ability to share that with others. Isn’t that what teaching is all about ?
No one likes to freeze in the dark, and when the power goes out at home, many boaters retreat to their boats as a self sufficent second refuge.
Time will tell if you picked the worst weather winter, to start your new live aboard life.
We are looking forward to reading more about your first experiences this winter.
Happy New Year
PS: some say that a sailmaker is a sailor’s best friend, from experience, I say a good machinest is .
When darkness comes(& more chilly temps!) the spirit must
p.s. Costco has a reference to an item under Camping:
A wacky “sleeping bag suit” …yikes:
Celebrate maximum mobility and comfort with Lippi’s Selk’ bag Sleep Wear System, now available in the U.S. for the first time! Designed and tested in the Chilean Andes by and for mountaineers, the Selk’ bag Sleep+Wear System features an innovative, form fitting design for your head, body, arms, and legs so you can easily move around and sleep while staying warm.
Douglas — you need any work done? email me, firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m always looking for fun projects…. regards, and happy new year..-Rosie
The kero heater was always one of my favorite things about the winter. Tending it, priming it, filling it, cleaning it, and having to work a little (very little) for one’s heat. Like you said, makes you take note of the effortless heat most take for granted. Hope I don’t get too soft living ashore this winter. At least I won’t have to worry about Carbon monoxide poisoning; and I’ll be curious to see if I get sick less this year. I really think my frequent illness was due in part to CO exposure. Keep an eye on that, and take frequent IQ exams… The CO related Dain Bramage I suffered has caused me to buy a sailboat I can’t sail… who knows what other senseless choices I might make!
Never underestimate the power of quick reflexes. I’m glad you survived!
Hey Teresa I also live on a boat and some how found your blog last night.Its very rare to see someone as cute as their boat but you seem to pull it off dudedess:)..sail far live slow .phil