I had my (larger) sailboat in NYC
harbor (Liberty Landing/ Jersey City) for 10 yrs and lived aboard for the last 5 yrs. It was a wonderful experience. Yes it snowed, yes the docks were icy sometimes, yes the water
froze 5" thick two years... but it was a great experience and I'd do it again.
Here's what I learned...
- Get an electric mattress pad!
Pad is better than electric blanket
Once a bed
is 50 degrees it will
suck all your heat out of you for an
hour or more! Just turn it on high
30 minutes before turning in and
climb into a warm & toasty bed
Once in bed... I'd turn mine off.
But I did sleep with socks on.
- Cut a carpet to fit your floor and put a non- wicking rubberized mat under it... what a difference! You'll
have to cut out accesses for anything you might need to under the floor ( bilge pump
, through- hulls,...).
- Get bubble wrap or foam packing sheets
and line any area of the outside hull
you can (behind bookshelves, galley storage
- If there is just one of you figure a way to close off your V-birth on coldest days and sleep on setee. You lose 50% of you heat in the v-birth.
- You MUST have an alternative emergency
heat in case power goes off for extended duration. My larger boat had both a generator
and I eventually installed a diesel heater (because I liked Winter sailing/ anchoring
out and needed good heat w/o having shore power
... and didn't want to run a noisy generator all night. I'm down in the Chesapeake Bay
area now and now have a 30' sailboat w/o generator. I still enjoy stretching the sailing season on both ends and use a 10,000 btu kerosene heater with heats it up very nicely w/ V-birth closed off. I believe it would take 15,000 btu to heat the whole boat.
- Every 120v electric heater (ceramic, heater/fan, oil
fill radiator)... if the label says 1200-1500 watts... puts out abt 5,000 btu. While the oil filled radiator heaters have a reputation of better safety
, my experience was I liked the fan/heaters much better. With the oil radiator heaters (unless you also run a separate circulating fan... ALL the heat from passive oil filled radiator type heaters drifts slowly straight up to the ceiling and I'm still cold sitting right next to it. Heaters with fan can be oriented toward you and whether you just came in and chilled to the bone or also on the boat and getting a chill... You can get in front of the heater/ fan and within 10-20 seconds... you!re feeling the warmth. Since every heater style draws about 10a at 120v... and you will need three at times (or be cold inside)... you'll be pulling 30a from a 30a shore cord/ 30a breaker in the power pedestal
That's it... you are maxed out. Before you can run the microwave, hair dryer, turn-on the hot water tank... (which each also pulls 10a) you will have to turn off one of the heaters during their operation time.
- Wear long sleeve T shits under whatever else you might be wearing including... laying around sweats or business suit. And I always wore either a sweat shirt or sweater during the clod months.
- Long underwear bottoms make a really big difference too for daily dress, but I didn't need/ want them in bed.
- Having a microwave to easily warm up coffee, tea, soup, piping hot meals
is a great help too.
- Wear a good hat or 'Navy' watch cap AND SCARF on colder Winter days/ night to/ from the boat... once chilled to the bone... it's hard to warm up again when on the boat.
- Dress in layers... it almost worse to get too warm, because that will cause you to perspire and that will cause you to be really cold.
- ALWAYS CARRY AN EMERGENCY
WHISTLE AROUND YOUR NECK. If you fall in getting on/ off it may be the only thing that can get you attention in a sparsely populated Winter marina. Remember everybody's boat is closed up with heaters/ fans, TVs. They will never hear you w/o the whistle. Keep it around your neck where you can easily/ quickly get to it. No other location be as easy to carry/ effortless to remember. Falling in the water on a windy dark Winter night is a life & death situation.
- Carry & use a flashlight any time you are outside on deck/ dock
... even if you dock has (some) lighting
. It's not enough to see black ice, lines. cleats
and other things to trip and fall.
- Wear appropriate shoes! Don't even think about wearing leather sole 'dress' shoes (ladies - no heels/ pumps). Take shorter/ more deliberate steps. In the Winter the winds are heavier, you are tensed up because your cold, you think you want to get to/ from the boat fast... but don't. Also it is very likely going to be dark on the morning when you leave and in the evening when you return. When it get cold- really cold any step you take could be on a icy patch.
- Try to plan all your provisioning
on the weekend when there is daylight/ ok weather
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