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Old 11-05-2009, 19:10   #1
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Question Winter on the Chesapeake?

Does anyone winter aboard their sailboat in the Chesapeake? Any advice about this? Thanks ... at this point I'm just beginning to look.
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Old 11-05-2009, 19:58   #2
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We do winter here. North of Deltaville, VA you might want a bubbler. Some do and some don't. We live in house here. After mid December the water cools down into the high 40's (here on the south end). Up on the north end in DE it gets down right cold and they have ice.

From November to about now you can get "stuff". Nor'easters are more the problem here than hurricanes overall. We get far more of them and they tend to be in the winter but can come anytime. Gale force winds that last a while. For us we haul every two years for bottom paint. The water in the summer gets quite warm. We moved here in 2002 as real estate was quite the deal then. The farther north you go the worse it gets. Still some great deals on the eastern shore on the south end. You just can't find jobs (unless you like chickens) over there so stuff is cheap.

Are you looking to live aboard?
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Old 11-05-2009, 21:22   #3
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It isn't so much the distance north, as the salinity of the water

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Does anyone winter aboard their sailboat in the Chesapeake? Any advice about this? Thanks ... at this point I'm just beginning to look.
I notice in many of the harbor between Deale and Baltimore, whether there is ice can vary from one creek to the next, and between one fork of the creek and the other. Often one side is frozen thick in Deale, and the other is clear.

I suggest very local questioning.
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Old 11-05-2009, 22:02   #4
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We've done 10 winters aboard on the Chesapeake. You can read about it HERE.

And feel free to PM specific questions.
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Old 12-05-2009, 00:39   #5
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I wintered over in Norfolk many years ago. Boat was a plastic fantastic without any insulation. Had two electric heaters that were barely adequate above freezing and hopeless below. Electric heaters don't vent so they make water, gobs of it. The condensation was so bad that everything in the boat was constantly wet. Get a good vented heater like the Dickenson Newport or one of the forced air heaters.

It wouldn't have been all that bad with a decent heat source. The winters are short, didn't really get cold till after Christmas and began serious warming by March. It did snow a couple of times but the insulating factor of the snow actually made the boat warmer.

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Old 12-05-2009, 21:00   #6
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A couple of November Northers convinced me to immediately leave the area for further South... I was at Tidewater marina at Portsmouth - the winters are much friendlier down in GA and FL (Yes, I am quite a lightweight when it comes to cold weather)

On Layla, I have a heat pump type AC/Heater and it didn't work as well as the diesel and solid fuel heaters they use up North...

Good luck - stay warm!

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Old 13-05-2009, 21:20   #7
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I lived aboard on the St Mary's River in Southern Md for 3 winters, made do with a small ceramic brick heater 24/7 with occasional use of kero Force 10 when temps got below 20F....and was cozy....but biggest help was using an electric blanket and putting "tomorrows" clothes under the mattress so they would be toasty in the morning. Cooked aboard, no problem with mositure. Cleaned ashore (had winterized water system, and no pumpouts avail). Ice can be an issue; bubblers can keep the hull clear, but make sure to have a way to get back aboard (straight up) at the slip, as ice and cold will keep you from making it very far towards another dock/boat/ladder. Pick a slip at a bulkhead or as short a walk down the dock as you can; docks get very slick in snow/freezing rain! But, also be aware the normal tides can drop another 2' with a steady NW/NE wind blowing all the water out of the bay.....trust me, it's tough to walk across a taut dockline to your boat which is heeling 25 deg in the middle of the slip, stuck for 3 days in mud.....so make sure you have enough depth for that.

Try it.....it's actually fun!
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Old 23-05-2009, 19:29   #8
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I want to thank all of you for these posts. I'm brand new to this forum. Excellent information, kindly put.
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Old 23-05-2009, 19:47   #9
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Consider a very weak antifreeze solution in a jug for flushing the head.

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I lived aboard on the St Mary's River in Southern Md for 3 winters, made do with a small ceramic brick heater 24/7 with occasional use of kero Force 10 when temps got below 20F....and was cozy....but biggest help was using an electric blanket and putting "tomorrows" clothes under the mattress so they would be toasty in the morning. Cooked aboard, no problem with mositure. Cleaned ashore (had winterized water system, and no pumpouts avail). Ice can be an issue; bubblers can keep the hull clear, but make sure to have a way to get back aboard (straight up) at the slip, as ice and cold will keep you from making it very far towards another dock/boat/ladder. Pick a slip at a bulkhead or as short a walk down the dock as you can; docks get very slick in snow/freezing rain! But, also be aware the normal tides can drop another 2' with a steady NW/NE wind blowing all the water out of the bay.....trust me, it's tough to walk across a taut dockline to your boat which is heeling 25 deg in the middle of the slip, stuck for 3 days in mud.....so make sure you have enough depth for that.

Try it.....it's actually fun!
Yes, shore side facilities are better, and there are no pump-outs until spring, but on some cold nights....
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Old 02-01-2014, 05:10   #10
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Re: Winter on the Chesapeake?

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We've done 10 winters aboard on the Chesapeake. You can read about it HERE.

And feel free to PM specific questions.
Nice pictures!

Btw, where is that Lighthouse in the last picture. I'd like to sail up and see it one day. I've seen it in picture several times.

Thanks,

Tom

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Old 02-01-2014, 09:42   #11
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Re: Winter on the Chesapeake?

Sundance, we lived aboard in the Chesapeake and won't do it anymore. Consider a few things. The marinas turn off the water in the winter to prevent pipes from freezing. You may have to find a hose bid hundreds of feet or more from the docks to fill your tanks. The condensation inside the boat from temperature differences inside and out will be far worse than you can imagine. It is very difficult to heat the inside of the boat to make it comfortable without a major heating source. When it snows or ices up, docks are not cleared by marinas and just getting off the boat can be treacherous, let alone getting to your car. Power outages during winter storms are very common so relying on electricity for heat may be problematic. The water can freeze and a bubbler system will probably be needed at the slip. This is just off the top of my head. I know, lots of folks do it, but there are some realistic down sides you should know about. This is why we spend our winters in warmer climates. If we find we have to spend a winter in the Chesapeake, and sometimes we do, the boat is hauled and we find a short term rental until Spring. Good luck with the boat search.
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Old 02-01-2014, 09:49   #12
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Re: Winter on the Chesapeake?

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Nice pictures!

Btw, where is that Lighthouse in the last picture. I'd like to sail up and see it one day. I've seen it in picture several times.

Thanks,

Tom

VA Beach
That's Thomas Point Light I believe. Chuck
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Old 02-01-2014, 10:00   #13
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Re: Winter on the Chesapeake?

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That's Thomas Point Light I believe. Chuck

Yep, Thomas Point, just below Annapolis, north side mouth of the South River.

In Spring, we run ~15 mins from our marina to that lighthouse, drop lines, and troll for rockfish (aka striped bass).

FWIW, we have a couple liveaboards in our marina, and I know of some up in Annapolis. Some marinas are better than others, when it comes to dockside water, periodic pump-outs, etc.

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Old 02-01-2014, 17:20   #14
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Re: Winter on the Chesapeake?

Also spending the winter on the Chesapeak in Annapolis.
So far no problems - also without bubbler ;-)
But we are also living aboard and keeping the boat warm and therefore the hull too... not too worried about the ice really...
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Old 05-01-2014, 17:50   #15
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Re: Winter on the Chesapeake?

We live aboard in Southern Maine. It gets pretty cold here. Saturday morning, for example, was all of -10 F. We have a small built-in diesel heater and have been shrink wrapped. Our catamaran is not insulated. We put house window plastic that you shrink with a blow dryer over all the hatches not covered by the shrink wrap and added some insulation between the mattress and the hull to keep the ice out. We run a dehumidifier at night once the sun has gone down. We also have 2 small electric heaters, one in each hull, blowing on the area where the water tanks are. We monitor the temp. on top of the tanks, never been below 35 at the water tanks and not below 55 inside. We have a small portable propane "buddy" heater to help keep the main salon at a more comfy temp. than 55. Electric blanket is a must
We have no worries about the water freezing. We are in a tidal river with a lovely current, averages 4-6 knots so no real danger of freezing. The water temp. today is 36 and no ice has formed.
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