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Old 12-05-2016, 08:24   #1
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Cold Weather Dockage

I just turned 73 and will be at the Liberty Marina NJ sometime in mid to late August 2016. Born and raised in Corpus Christi Texas and never lived in a cold climate. Since I have never lived in a cold climate and never been in Maine, I am thinking about going up to Maine and spending the winter.
Do people live on their boats in the winter time, if so, what major problems do they encounter.
I'm on the ICW heading toward NY and being tired of the Bahamas and the Carib, I'm looking for new experiences, so is Maine in the winter to much in the way of a new experience or should I turn around and go back to the Caribbean and the wonderful crusing.
Kingwoodie
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Old 12-05-2016, 08:47   #2
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Re: cold weather dockage

Yes, there are liveaboards in Maine. I know South Port Marina in South Portland has some.

It sure would be a new experience. But it's not easy, even for locals. Someone with first-hand experience will probably go into detail, but my gut says you won't like it if you're not from around here.

I'd try summer in Maine first, you'll like that for sure.

BTW, Liberty Marina doesn't have the best reputation, but maybe things have changed. Let us know what you think.
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Old 12-05-2016, 08:54   #3
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Re: cold weather dockage

Before untying the boat, boil a gallon of water on the stove. Pour this boiling water on your tie-up lines - otherwise you won't be able to untie them. They will be a solid frozen mass of whatever tie-up lines are made of. You would have better success cutting the mass apart with a chisel than you would trying to untie them.
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Old 12-05-2016, 09:04   #4
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Re: cold weather dockage

The biggest or most important issues for cold climate living aboard:

- Heat. You will need a lot of it. Many options, all with various pros and cons. Search for one of the 2-3 dozen previous discussions on this forum for more information than you can read in a day.

- Condensation. Goes along with heat. Can be a huge problem on all the sides and overhead on the boat. This can be helped by having good....

- Insulation.

- Frozen water. Really cold winters the boat might end up frozen in the dock. This can cause damage to the hull so you will need some way to keep the water liquid.
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Old 12-05-2016, 10:49   #5
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Re: cold weather dockage

Quote:
Originally Posted by kingwoodie View Post
I just turned 73 and will be at the Liberty Marina NJ sometime in mid to late August 2016. Born and raised in Corpus Christi Texas and never lived in a cold climate. Since I have never lived in a cold climate and never been in Maine, I am thinking about going up to Maine and spending the winter.
Do people live on their boats in the winter time, if so, what major problems do they encounter.
I'm on the ICW heading toward NY and being tired of the Bahamas and the Carib, I'm looking for new experiences, so is Maine in the winter to much in the way of a new experience or should I turn around and go back to the Caribbean and the wonderful crusing.
Kingwoodie
Hi KW,

We have enjoyed boating in higher latitudes for decades [with a few years spent in the lower latitudes...]

It all depends upon the boat, your preparations, and willingness to be held captive by, and accountable to the weather...

We are asked similar questions quite often, and have a few posts on our blog regarding our experiences and strategies- many of which link to other resources and posts on this forum.

Here is one such post in case you are interested: Living on a boat in winter [cold weather].

Best wishes with your adventure!

Cheers!

Bill
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Old 12-05-2016, 11:04   #6
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Re: cold weather dockage

Quote:
Originally Posted by skipmac View Post
The biggest or most important issues for cold climate living aboard:

- Heat. You will need a lot of it. Many options, all with various pros and cons. Search for one of the 2-3 dozen previous discussions on this forum for more information than you can read in a day.

- Condensation. Goes along with heat. Can be a huge problem on all the sides and overhead on the boat. This can be helped by having good....

- Insulation.

- Frozen water. Really cold winters the boat might end up frozen in the dock. This can cause damage to the hull so you will need some way to keep the water liquid.

Plus periodic holding tank pump-outs... and freshwater tank fill-ups...

And then there can be issues with icy/snowy docks -- especially if at oh-dark-thirty -- if intending to use shoreside facilities...


(Not meant as discouragement; just points to consider for solution.)

-Chris
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Old 12-05-2016, 11:40   #7
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Re: cold weather dockage

Woodie, the good news is that what with global warming, lower NYC Harbor hasn't frozen over solid since the winter of 1776, when locals literally WALKED to Staten Island.


And while bubblers were considered obvious and mandatory in the 70s, again, winters have been so warm that most folks forgot they would ever be needed. Will you need them this winter? Dunno, I didn't buy the Farmers Almanac this year.


But a "NYC Winter" can hold a lot of surprises. Temperatures near 80 for New Years Eve. Or, blizzards up until Easter. If you don't want to roll dice, you have to expect heavy icing on the Hudson and "coves", enough so that the USCG does run icebreakers up to Albany for shipping. Sometimes the wind chill will keep temperatures in the 10-20F range, feeling like zero, for most of a week.


Other times...it will only be in the 40s-50s and feel like a spring day.


No way to tell what it will be this year.
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Old 12-05-2016, 13:01   #8
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Re: cold weather dockage

I didn't follow the weather in NYC closely but my daughter on Martha's Vineyard sent me photos from two winters ago showing Vineyard Sound and Buzzards Bay frozen solid. Ice was so thick they had to put a giant crane on a barge and use the crane's bucket for an icebreaker to make a channel for the ferry. Bet you could have easily walked to Wood's Hole.

Just in case, I'll sneak a peak at the Farmer's Almanac next time I'm in the local feed and seed and clue you in on exactly how it will be next December.



Quote:
Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
Woodie, the good news is that what with global warming, lower NYC Harbor hasn't frozen over solid since the winter of 1776, when locals literally WALKED to Staten Island.


And while bubblers were considered obvious and mandatory in the 70s, again, winters have been so warm that most folks forgot they would ever be needed. Will you need them this winter? Dunno, I didn't buy the Farmers Almanac this year.


But a "NYC Winter" can hold a lot of surprises. Temperatures near 80 for New Years Eve. Or, blizzards up until Easter. If you don't want to roll dice, you have to expect heavy icing on the Hudson and "coves", enough so that the USCG does run icebreakers up to Albany for shipping. Sometimes the wind chill will keep temperatures in the 10-20F range, feeling like zero, for most of a week.


Other times...it will only be in the 40s-50s and feel like a spring day.


No way to tell what it will be this year.
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Old 12-05-2016, 14:16   #9
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Re: cold weather dockage

Tell us something about your boat and what you want to do while in Maine. That could help getting better advice. We have lived aboard for about three winters in Delaware. Not Maine but gives us some perspective.
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Old 14-05-2016, 13:53   #10
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Re: cold weather dockage

Heat will be the biggest issue. Some type of combustion heat that is vented is the best way to be comfortable and dry. A diesel stove works best, but too hot for the tropics. Next would be a diesel heater or hydronic system. The process of combustion draws in fresh air, replacing very humid air.
In the winter most people prefer not to open ports and doors, so all your cooking, showering and breathing puts much more moisture in the boat. Outside air is almost always drier.
Using electric heat just makes warmer wet air. Non-vented propane just puts more water in the air (a byproduct or propane combustion is water). Not changing the air will make your clothes wet, rust metal fasteners, fog your ports, etc.
Keep a bag of salt for docks and deck ice so you don't fall.
Make the most of good weather doing shopping, laundry, etc.
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Old 14-05-2016, 14:41   #11
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Re: cold weather dockage

Quote:
Originally Posted by kingwoodie View Post
I just turned 73 and will be at the Liberty Marina NJ sometime in mid to late August 2016. Born and raised in Corpus Christi Texas and never lived in a cold climate. Since I have never lived in a cold climate and never been in Maine, I am thinking about going up to Maine and spending the winter.
Do people live on their boats in the winter time, if so, what major problems do they encounter.
I'm on the ICW heading toward NY and being tired of the Bahamas and the Carib, I'm looking for new experiences, so is Maine in the winter to much in the way of a new experience or should I turn around and go back to the Caribbean and the wonderful crusing.
Kingwoodie
===

After a winter in Maine or NY Harbor, the Bahamas and Carib will look a lot better to you. People do live on their boats in the north but it is a very marginal existence. I lived in the NY area for many years and would be just as happy if I never again went back in the winter. When we go north in the summer from Florida our preference is to not arrive much before June 1st and be headed south again by mid to late September.

During a northern winter you will encounter things like frozen water pipes on the dock, difficulty in refueling, high cabin humidity/condensation, drafty cold conditions on board, icing on docks, etc. You'll also see a lot of makeshift attempts at insulation and creative heating systems.
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Old 14-05-2016, 15:18   #12
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Re: cold weather dockage

"Using electric heat just makes warmer wet air."
Then logically, an electric clothes drier must just make warmer wetter clothes?
Every "combustion" heat source produces moisture in the combustion process. Some more (like alcohol) others less. Electric heating produces zero additional moisture so unless you have trued to convert your salon into a combination vault and sauna, electric will always be the DRIEST heat source.
Whether you are using exchanged air, or a transfer without air exchange, whatever, that will still apply as long as you are comparing apples to apples.


And that's why we don't use clothes driers as mini-saunas. The heated air runs away, and it is hot moist air, taking the moisture with it courtesy of the dry heat source.
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Old 14-05-2016, 20:50   #13
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Re: cold weather dockage

Living on a boat in the cold is the most expensive way there is to go second class.

Sent from my VS990 using Cruisers Sailing Forum mobile app
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Old 16-05-2016, 05:23   #14
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Re: Cold Weather Dockage

We have an Espar D4 forced air heater on each boat. Been living on our 44 in Delaware and have seen temps to 1F. We were sufficiently comfortable.

Humidity is a problem you can mitigate to some extent. No pasta or other boiled foods for example when you can't vent well.

We have always jet the bloat in the water, being a steel hull not much of an issue. But an other gentleman up the dock from us also stays afloat year round on a 33 foot Nauticat. We are largely fresh water there so we get a ot of hard ice, and it moves, sometimes in fair sized pans. Yet he seems OK.
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