This weekend I began the process of getting my boat ready for winter. First, with the help of a few friends, I lowered the mast and moved it off the boat. The next step was to put the cover on. I put a wood frame over the entire boat from bow to stern. It looked like ribs on a whale lying belly up in the water. For most of this I had Benji’s help, but when it came time to put the cover on, I was on my own.
I began at the bow and unrolled the giant piece of heavy canvas. The water was still and the air was calm. It was the perfect day for this project. I worked steadily, but at a slow pace. Thrice a piece of the cover blew into the ocean and I had to fish it out of the icy water.
By the time I had most of the cover on the wind had kicked up. I had been holding tight to the cover during the gusts and quickly lashing it down during the lulls. But by mid-afternoon there were no lulls. It was windy. Steady strong winds. I held on tight and gripping the cover I felt like I was going to be lifted off the boat and blown into the air. It was only by luck (and an extra hand) that I was able to complete the task. Then, onto the next.
The moisture that is produced through condensation on the inside of my hull has become a problem in my lockers where I store many things. I only have a few items and in the lockers they were getting to wet and mildew was growing on them. The insulation that I lined the lockers with wasn’t enough. Instead of preventing the warm interior air from hitting the cold hull and condensing into water droplets or even ice, it lands on my things and the insulation and condenses there.
I spent the rest of my weekend reorganizing and trying to find a solution to the problem. How could I simultaneously stay warm enough and not cause moisture in the lockers, when the amount of moisture is directly related to the disparity between heat outside and inside the boat? When it is colder outside, I turn my heat up and the condensation from the hot air hitting the icy hull is increased. Its a lose/lose situation.
Oh, of course I have sought advice and have tried many many things. But nothing has proven to be a reliable solution. If I had more options, I would store my things in an unheated space on the boat, or perhaps on shore. But my cabin is so small that it heats up entirely in less than five minutes and my shore options are limited. My only solution, for the time being, is to put everything into clear plastic bags.
And so begins my winter live-aboard life. I had foreseen a life very much like that of the summer, with a few extra layers. But the reality is much much different. Life aboard in the winter is more difficult. The cold and reduced sunlight are having a big impact on living comfortably and pursuing hobbies and daily tasks. Things that I often took for granted, such as a warm shower, blogging and checking email, exercise, Yoga, getting safely around town, warmth, clean laundry, etc. are now a challenge or uncomfortable. Having a friend who lives ashore is essential. I can’t wait for spring.