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Old 04-12-2020, 18:28   #1
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Tips for long-term winter sailing

I am headed down the ICW soon, leaving from Maryland, and I'm well aware that this is quite a late start to be headed down the ditch. I'm finishing up a restoration of a 30 foot steel boat, so unfortunately I didn't have the option to leave in November, when I would have preferred. I'm not looking for a lecture on the dangers of cold weather sailing (I'm well aware of them) or basics like "get good foul weather gear" because I've got most of that covered. I'm wondering if anyone has any tips and tricks for a few months of relatively cold-weather sailing that I haven't thought of yet, or ways that the ICW trip is different in the winter than it is in the fall/spring that I need to incorporate into my planning (besides shorter weather windows and less daylight). Things like, might some fuel docks be closed for the season? Do bridge and lock schedules change drastically? Brand recommendations for thermal base layers and gloves? Considerations for crossing some of the major sounds in cold weather? Are there fewer transient slips available this time of year? Ways to stay active and warm while spending eight hours motoring on a January day? Would it be a good idea to sleep in my gear or is that total overkill? Is there anything I'm not thinking of that shouldn't be left on deck to freeze? That one thing you just can't go without while winter sailing?
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Old 04-12-2020, 20:05   #2
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Re: Tips for long-term winter sailing

Buy one of those oil-filled electric radiator heater. Also invest in good long underwear and top of the line sleeping bag. On nights when it will be real cold, stop at a marina or fuel dock. Most marinas will have empty slips w/ electric but no water. Running the engine with the motor enclosure open will help heat the cabin.
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Old 04-12-2020, 21:07   #3
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Re: Tips for long-term winter sailing

Unless you will have power available...Invest in a diesel heater. Planar is good Russian made unit sold in N America by Canadian company. About $1000. US. Also can buy German for thousands or chinese for hundreds, much written on forums.
Maybe a unexpensive chinese unit will do it for you assuming will not need in southern climes.
Can direct a vent into your cockpit.
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Old 04-12-2020, 21:57   #4
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Re: Tips for long-term winter sailing

Been there, done that.

Staying warm while steering is a tough one. I don't know if you have wind protection or not, but you're on the right track, regards keeping warm.

Good gear, and keep out of the wind. Sleeping in your gear is fine, but have a change of clothes for the morning, as whatever you have on under your gear will likely get sweaty.

A spare set of gear is nice too, as the outerwear will also get moist at times. Keep the top open a bit, whenever you can, to help get rid of the moist air within. It sucks, and it'll cool you down, but keeping the outerwear dry is going to keep you warmer.

Be careful if you decide to heat with any kind of flame, it's tempting, but a small boat is more prone to gathering dangerous fumes than a larger one.

Can you do any offshore, overnight sailing? If so, that would be my recommendation. Get further south, as quickly as you can.

If you can't do that. Then run the engine with the cover off, and the hatches closed. When you go in at night, you'll have some heat inside. Cook yourself something warm, and head to bed before the heat is gone.

Wear layers, and the same for bedding. Go to bed with some warm weather clothes, and a nice winter sleeping bag, or several layers of blankets. Keep a comforter rolled up next to you, so when you wake up cold, you can just pull it over you for a few more hours warmth.

Marina issues, you seem to have that figured out, same with bridges. There are "less convenient" winter hours for bridges, and marina staff are at a minimum. If you're at a marina, heat will be less of an issue.

Cheers, and good luck.
Paul.
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Old 04-12-2020, 22:10   #5
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Re: Tips for long-term winter sailing

Wool is good.

Keeping air under your bedding pads is important too, one good cheap option is lattice work.

Donít mess around with socks, boots, gloves
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Old 05-12-2020, 00:57   #6
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Re: Tips for long-term winter sailing

This is going to sound crazy at face value, but will make you warm and happy fastest:

Unstep your mast and stow it on deck. Restep when it’s warm and you are feeling good/comfortable again.

The bridges will not only be on some winter schedule, but they are awful to wait for on a warm summer day.

It may nearly double your distance made each day in some spots to not have to wait for all the bridges. Don’t even call them, don’t go in circles for hours each day waiting to make progress.

The ICW is a motoring trip, so treat it as one. Get yourself to warm weather ASAP and enjoy what the ultimate goal is. To have a warm winter. Minimize the delays. Sail all you want once you are down south.

It’s quite simple and secure to construct an an A frame holder to keep the mast out of the way and securely held.

Otherwise, Grit nailed it.

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Old 05-12-2020, 05:20   #7
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Re: Tips for long-term winter sailing

To add something of value to the good thoughts above...

I am amazed how quickly the climate changes heading south. Beaufort will be noticeably warmer than the Chesapeake. Charleston warmer than Beaufort. St Augustine down right pleasant. If you can manage 24 to 30 hours off shore you can quickly get to the next warmer climate. Other wise just keep moving in the ICW and with each day there will be a small improvement.

I like a synthetic base layer. Lots of wool and fleece all covered by a good water resistant shell with a hood. I avoid cotton. I have several wool or fleece caps, but for real warmth I have a fleece hat thing that covers my head down to my neck with a small opening for eyes and nose. This thing really warms me up.

I like to sleep in a clean dry layer in a good sleeping bag. I do not like sleeping in the gear I wear on deck. You will figure out what works for you.

Finally, the really cold weather arrives in the southern Chesapeake in January. Try to be further south by then.
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Old 05-12-2020, 06:53   #8
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Re: Tips for long-term winter sailing

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chotu View Post
This is going to sound crazy at face value, but will make you warm and happy fastest:

Unstep your mast and stow it on deck. Restep when itís warm and you are feeling good/comfortable again.

The bridges will not only be on some winter schedule, but they are awful to wait for on a warm summer day.

It may nearly double your distance made each day in some spots to not have to wait for all the bridges. Donít even call them, donít go in circles for hours each day waiting to make progress.

The ICW is a motoring trip, so treat it as one. Get yourself to warm weather ASAP and enjoy what the ultimate goal is. To have a warm winter. Minimize the delays. Sail all you want once you are down south.

Itís quite simple and secure to construct an an A frame holder to keep the mast out of the way and securely held.

Otherwise, Grit nailed it.



Very interesting thought. But with prevailing high fall/winter breezes out of north I think there are a lot of times one can unroll a headsail and motorsail (quieter, more fuel efficient) or even turn off engine. My boat easily gets 6.5-7 downwind under genoa alone in 15 kts of breeze
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Old 05-12-2020, 06:56   #9
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Re: Tips for long-term winter sailing

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Originally Posted by flyingfin View Post
Buy one of those oil-filled electric radiator heater. Also invest in good long underwear and top of the line sleeping bag. On nights when it will be real cold, stop at a marina or fuel dock. Most marinas will have empty slips w/ electric but no water. Running the engine with the motor enclosure open will help heat the cabin.
Do most fuel docks have 30 amp electric? I've never really paid attention before to whether they do or don't

And the engine compartment idea is a good one, I definitely hadn't thought of that one
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Old 05-12-2020, 07:03   #10
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Re: Tips for long-term winter sailing

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Originally Posted by malbert73 View Post
Very interesting thought. But with prevailing high fall/winter breezes out of north I think there are a lot of times one can unroll a headsail and motorsail (quieter, more fuel efficient) or even turn off engine. My boat easily gets 6.5-7 downwind under genoa alone in 15 kts of breeze
Great fun until you have to roll it all back up for every bridge and wait an hour or so to get through.

Far faster to drop the rig for the trip.
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Old 05-12-2020, 07:06   #11
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Re: Tips for long-term winter sailing

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Originally Posted by GRIT View Post
Been there, done that.

Staying warm while steering is a tough one. I don't know if you have wind protection or not, but you're on the right track, regards keeping warm.

Can you do any offshore, overnight sailing? If so, that would be my recommendation. Get further south, as quickly as you can.

Marina issues, you seem to have that figured out, same with bridges. There are "less convenient" winter hours for bridges, and marina staff are at a minimum. If you're at a marina, heat will be less of an issue.

Cheers, and good luck.
Paul.
I have a Bimini but no dodger- luckily for me, the cabin top protects the cockpit quite well when sitting down, it's pretty tall and it extends all the way to the either side just forward of the cockpit

The offshore is a tricky one- this is my first major trip out of the Chesapeake, and I may well be singlehanded for a large portion of it. I have radar and an autopilot and all the necessary things for offshore sailing, even though the boat's only 30 feet she's very stable and clearly designed for offshore (hard chine, very overbuilt rigging, etc), and I have done some limited offshore sailing in larger boats with crew, but I haven't singlehanded offshore before. Are there any particular hops that might be good to test out my comfort? Some inlets right before and after a bunch of bridges that would be particularly good to know about?

Do marinas tend to be a bit more forgiving in the winter, especially perhaps for a solo 20-year-old in the cold? Maybe some cheaper overnight fees?
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Old 05-12-2020, 07:10   #12
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Re: Tips for long-term winter sailing

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Originally Posted by Chotu View Post
This is going to sound crazy at face value, but will make you warm and happy fastest:

Unstep your mast and stow it on deck. Restep when it’s warm and you are feeling good/comfortable again.

The bridges will not only be on some winter schedule, but they are awful to wait for on a warm summer day.

It may nearly double your distance made each day in some spots to not have to wait for all the bridges. Don’t even call them, don’t go in circles for hours each day waiting to make progress.

The ICW is a motoring trip, so treat it as one. Get yourself to warm weather ASAP and enjoy what the ultimate goal is. To have a warm winter. Minimize the delays. Sail all you want once you are down south.

It’s quite simple and secure to construct an an A frame holder to keep the mast out of the way and securely held.

Otherwise, Grit nailed it.

This is kind of a funny idea, because my mast is actually deck-stepped on a pin and has a crutch that can go into the transom-mounted slot for the flagpole, because it's Dutch and designed to go under all of their super low bridges. It's basically set up the same way as a Flying Scot (but more difficult to take down because it's obviously a lot bigger than a Scot). However, then I lose my radar and VHF antenna, and it certainly makes it more difficult to move around the deck... while a very interesting idea, it may not make the most sense for me, especially because I won't really have the room below to store my sails and whatnot.

I also JUST got my mast re-stepped after having work done on it for three months (like, literally this past week)- it would be a shame for me to take it down again now, just from an enthusiasm perspective. I also do probably want to put in the effort to sail the few times that I can on the way south, because I just restored the boat and haven't gotten the chance to figure out the rhythm of the sailing part yet, and I want to start doing that as much as I can before I get all the way down there and hopefully hop off to The Bahamas.
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Old 05-12-2020, 07:13   #13
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Re: Tips for long-term winter sailing

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Originally Posted by malbert73 View Post
Very interesting thought. But with prevailing high fall/winter breezes out of north I think there are a lot of times one can unroll a headsail and motorsail (quieter, more fuel efficient) or even turn off engine. My boat easily gets 6.5-7 downwind under genoa alone in 15 kts of breeze
I agree with this too- even if I'm not doing a lot of sailing, I think I might actually be a lot more stable with at least, some sail up when doing the major crossings. I don't really want to be bobbing around like a cork across the Albemarle Sound. I also wouldn't want to put myself into the box of having to motor no matter what, especially if I do decide to do some offshore hops.
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Old 05-12-2020, 07:24   #14
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Re: Tips for long-term winter sailing

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I agree with this too- even if I'm not doing a lot of sailing, I think I might actually be a lot more stable with at least, some sail up when doing the major crossings. I don't really want to be bobbing around like a cork across the Albemarle Sound. I also wouldn't want to put myself into the box of having to motor no matter what, especially if I do decide to do some offshore hops.
Kelsey you are gonna be fine...
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Old 05-12-2020, 07:30   #15
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Re: Tips for long-term winter sailing

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I agree with this too- even if I'm not doing a lot of sailing, I think I might actually be a lot more stable with at least, some sail up when doing the major crossings. I don't really want to be bobbing around like a cork across the Albemarle Sound. I also wouldn't want to put myself into the box of having to motor no matter what, especially if I do decide to do some offshore hops.
That’s the best solution of all to speed things up, weather permitting. Going outside a bit, especially in Georgia where the ICW literally does S turns so severe you’d swear you’re going around in circles. LOL

But makes sense. Whatever you’re most comfortable with is the best choice.

I have to admit I flew a sock based spinnaker single handed through either Albemarle or Pamlico sound and had an incredible run once.

I was leaning towards convenience in my advice to drop the mast. Mostly thinking of freezing at the helm. But if you’re more comfortable with it up, definitely that’s the way to go.
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