Winter is Over

Now that winter is really over I can finally reflect on our first (and potentially last) full winter season while living aboard.  It was a feat I wasn't sure was possible for me, given my chronic winter chill and dislike for slippery surfaces!

Surprisingly the boat held quite a lot of heat, and two space heaters running 24 hours a day was enough to keep the inside spaces at about 50 - 55 degrees farenheit.  Add a workhorse of a heated blanket to take the chill off of the sheets and things were surprisingly cozy.  When it came to predicting outside air temperature, a bottle of penut oil in our kitchen cubbord was a good clue.  If it congealed and turned a little more opaque we knew the temperatures inside were a little closer to 40, meaning it might be in the 20 degree range outside.  Either way, socks, slippers, fleece and sweaters were my daily companion upon returning home from work.

One of the wonderful things about winter on a boat is the silence.  Hardly a soul ventures out to the marina since many of the boats are lifted out of the water between October and late November of each year, leaving the whole place looking like a private cove.  The only sounds were of the bubblers placed near our hull to prevent the water around us from freezing and the occasional heron squawking.

The wind was much more feirce during the winter, a few times making me wonder if we would come loose from our docklines - but they held, just like they always do. The rain was more dismal and stark and each morning meant treacherous walk to the car over water-logged docks that had frozen and thawed and re-frozen during the night.  I slipped one morning in January and came down sqarely on my left elbow, leaving it swollen and unusable for several days before range of motion began coming back.

We got a few big snows, mostly in January and February, requiring quite a lot of shoveling to remove the white stuff from the entire length of our dock.  I've always thought that the muffling qualities of snow is profound, but added to the already quiet marina, being alone in a snowstorm on a boat is kind of magical.  

Our projects over the winter involved some plumbing fixes, a new drawer-style refrigerator installation by the very handy Jason, and a sunbrella fabric purchase for a new curtain project that is under way.  We also covered several of our ceiling panels (otherwise known as 'head liners' in boat-speak) with brand new white vynil - a great improvement over the 30-year-old yellowed predecessors.  We then picked out new LED lights for the kitchen and stateroom, with updated brushed stainless steel switches to match soon on their way from the EU.

This old boat is getting a new life, and it makes us happy to see the place look more and more like our home all the time.  So here's to a brand new sailing season!

kitty joy

Despite Anya's unpleasant run-in with water earlier this year, she's really taken to being a boat cat.  All summer she's spent her time lounging in the sunshine, getting underfoot and going further down the dock than she's supposed to.  Though she can't catch any of the birds or other wildlife in the marina, she seems very content to stalk the herons that fly overhead, and ineffectively bat at the bugs that get within swatting distance.

Like all cats, she'll happily inhabit any empty cardboard box...

...and remains transfixed and slightly confused at the existence of ducks.

But mostly you'd find her sleeping in the sunshine, or sitting on the top step of the companionway giving her an optimal view of both the saloon area of the boat and the great outdoors.

Kitty Took a Swim

Every morning Jason and I throw the cat out on deck with her radio collar on (so that she can get a little ways down the dock, but not so far that she wanders away).   This seems to have vastly improved her quality of life, since she has become much less neurotic and generally a happier kitty since we moved onto the boat.

On this particular morning, Anya had been outside for maybe an hour and I was downstairs reading 'Liveaboard Magazine' while Jason caught up on his email.  All of a sudden we both heard a strange series of noises coming from outside.  It sounded like scrabbling and some sort of furious motion followed by an understated sploosh which I later understood to be the sound of Anya hitting the water.

We both went out to investigate, but didn't put together that it could be the cat until Jason peered over the edge of the boat furthest from the dock to find Anya swimming along the edge, making the most sorrowful meows.  She must have tried to jump back onto the boat from the dock and missed, causing her first contact with 'the shiny dirt'.  What seems the most surprising to me is that she swam counterclockwise all the way around the forepeak and then down the length of the 57 foot boat to the stern where Jason called her to swim.  She swam over next to the dock and as Jason noted, she stretched her arms and legs out stiff so that he could easily pick her out of the water.  

She looked a little perturbed, but perhaps more embarrassed than anything.

Since then on hot days we've actually given her a bath on purpose, since she seems to find it minimally annoying (no scratching or clawing) and looks much more comfortable afterwards.  I'm sure wearing a fur coat in 90+ degree heat would be uncomfortable. 

Living on Water

On April 30th I handed over my keys to my land dwelling and traded up for a home that can be motored or sailed anywhere!  It's true - the boat we now call home is triple A Lloyd's of London rated - meaning it's classified as a solid seagoing vessel.  Should we ever reach the experience necessary for such a voyage, all my clothes, pots and pans, random odds and ends and beloved duvet cover could come with me without so much as an x-ray (see: Annoying Air Travel).  

Things I have had to get used to since moving onto a boat: 1) Weird new noises, like the sound of the ropes stretching and creaking at all hours of the night if it's windy or a little choppy, the water pump doing it's thing, rain on the decks above, and other creaks and groans that wake me up in the middle of the night.  2) Smaller sleeping quarters  3) Weird showers  4) An oven on gimbals, which I find endlessly amusing  5) A lack of plants : (  6) A lot of established adults asking many, many questions about what we're doing living on a boat, whether this is our first one, how much experience we have and so on.  Plus a few who assume we're the kids of whoever owns the thing and 7) a lack of refrigeration (hasn't gone in yet) - but surprisingly easy to get around when you're only buying food for meals every few days.

Learning how to maneuver our new home has been exhilarating, harrowing, curious, gut-wrenching and a completely uncharted experience for me. I have to say, I'd probably never ever do this on my own were it not for Jason - my fearless and very versatile other half.  His optimism and faith in the universe is unwavering.