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Old 20-12-2021, 22:32   #1
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Who Winter Sails Subzero?

Our new boat sale and paperwork will be done in a couple days and need to move our boat from Puget Sound to Vancouver. Would be great to wait for better weather but we have a couple weeks off work and the new omicron is heating up and want to get the boat into Canada before lockdowns are back at the border.

Forecast is calling for temps below freezing with snow/sleet/rain forecasted and the occasional break. With the short days, have a number of routes planned including stopping for a covid test in Port Townsend or Bellingham on way back. Expect it to take 4 - 6 days and will try and stay in marinas. We do have diesel heater that works well and will bring an electric when plugged in.

I have never sailed in winter so bought some new Helly gear and have layers that should be ok underneath. All I have for gloves so far is snowboard/ski gloves and mitts, looking for some sailing ones too.

Looking for any advice or tips for sailing in winter conditions, what potential problems should we be aware of???
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Old 20-12-2021, 22:43   #2
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Re: Who Winter Sails Subzero?

Well, I have never sailed in sleet or snow, but what is the wind forecast? Do you have a dodger? Do you have an autopilot? I only say that because when I am cold I'll sit in the companionway so at least half of me gets a little warm. YOu could do that and let the AP drive for a while. Good luck, send photos!
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Old 20-12-2021, 22:51   #3
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Re: Who Winter Sails Subzero?

looking at forecast, some areas could be getting down to low 20ºs F /-8ºC at night and just below freezing during day. Winds are all over the place but mostly 10-15kn range. on the coldest days showing stronger outflow winds from interior.

Have autopilot, and Bimini dodger but open on the sides and back. Furl mainsail, self tacking jib and mostly setup for single handing.
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Old 20-12-2021, 23:00   #4
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Re: Who Winter Sails Subzero?

I might look for a tarp(s) to cover the windward side under the bimini. Is it just overcast calm and drizzly or are storms cells forecasted to come through?
One thing's for sure, it probably won't be crowded out there!
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Old 20-12-2021, 23:14   #5
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Re: Who Winter Sails Subzero?

Doesn't look like any storm cells and not calling for big dumps of snow. Winds dont seem to strong but will have to keep checking. Were thinking about heading north on Boxing Day but have flexibility if we need to wait it out. As long as we can make it to a marina every night, will be in good shape. I am fairly confident on my skills but not a seasoned sailor, this is our first boat. What a way to start off the adventure. arghh. Good stories for when we are liveaboards in the tropics.
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Old 20-12-2021, 23:16   #6
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Re: Who Winter Sails Subzero?

Do you know any sailing friends who don't mind cold weather to bring along?
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Old 20-12-2021, 23:20   #7
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Re: Who Winter Sails Subzero?

My wife will be with me and while I do have sailing friends, the border hassles and covid are making it quite difficult. I have thrown a few casual invites out but people apparently like to spend Christmas with family in a warm house around a fire with actual home cooked meals. go figure?
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Old 20-12-2021, 23:31   #8
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Re: Who Winter Sails Subzero?

Well, if it were me I'd first get some time in motoring and sailing around in circles making sure everything is really working well, filters are clear, plumbing is all good etc. and ready to go since it is a new boat to you. You aren't going to want any surprises. Maybe have a mechanic go over the engine and a diver check the prop and rudder. And then I'd beg, plead and bribe someone who is comfortable on boats to go with you. And I'd plan on motoring a direct route as much as possible. Do you have motorized winches on there? If so I have no idea how they respond to freezing temps. Probably ok but I'd practice with them on a freezing day before you go. Hope someone from your area chimes in!
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Old 21-12-2021, 00:08   #9
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Re: Who Winter Sails Subzero?

Just close your eyes and think of the rest of Canada ... we've got -39C forecast here in Calgary next week, that should help -8C feel warm ... I go to the boat in winter to warm up!

I've really enjoyed the sailing I've done in the Gulf Islands around Christmas time ... remember that days are short, and dress to stay warm and dry. Dress as you would for standing around outdoors, not as you would for active winter sports ... sailing a cruising boat doesn't generate a lot of body heat. A small electric heater keeps the cabin toasty at marinas, but condensation can be a problem. I don't yet have a working diesel heater so winter anchorages are definitely "camping" for me.

My marina occasionally skims over with ice after a cold night (I think because it is close to a river outlet), but it's always gone by mid morning. I've ocasionally had to shovel snow off my deck, but again it rarely stays more than a day. I've not actually gone out with ice on the decks, but if you do spend a day in a marina because of a snowy/icy day, walking on icy docks can be "exciting".

But I expect you'll have a great trip and love it ... good luck.
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Old 21-12-2021, 03:59   #10
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Re: Who Winter Sails Subzero?

I used to canoe in winter.
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Old 21-12-2021, 05:59   #11
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Re: Who Winter Sails Subzero?

From our northern late season sailing, I can offer that (1) nobody is out there to help you and (2) hands get cold very fast, even in gloves. Wear a life jacket.

We also sail iceboats, which obviously is sub-zero, which suggests the following:
1. Handling lines with gloves is slow and awkward. You want gloves you can get on and off real fast.
Handling lines with ordinary gloves tears up gloves fast. We wear Outdoor Research US military gloves (not available direct, only used off Ebay) with the merino inserts.
2. Snow and ice accumulates on lines and jams up blocks and cleats
3. Once the wind makes your eyes tear up, it's hard to stop. Use full goggles, not glasses. Ski goggles are fine.
4. Not a shocker, snow squalls can be blinding past 20 meters. They can also play tricks on what you think you're seeing.
5. Have a way to keep your core temperature up- hot cocoa, in-place exercises. If your core is hot, you don't need gloves much- if your core is cool, you'll have a problem, in fact a number of problems including discomfort, distraction, slow-witted. Not good. Hypothermia is very bad, as you don't realize your state of mind.
6. You won't feel it if you get cut on a split ring or ice. If you see blood, yes, it's yours.

As said, shake that boat down good. I'd suggest a pro engine survey, all new filters and fuel, and a hard shakedown before departing.
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Old 21-12-2021, 08:02   #12
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Re: Who Winter Sails Subzero?

I HATE cold weather, hands dont work, I have gotten hypothermia in the Caribbean. I will be making a 2 day trip next week in “sub zero” weather.

Get a cold weather flotation work suit, a onsies.
https://www.defender.com/category.js...path=-1%7C6267

Wind finds its way inside, a onsie seals against wind.

Barring that get a bib type insulated and weather proof pants. Find places that sell to duck hunters and the like. You want the pants to come up chest high.

I loose a LOT of heat around by throat. Lots kf surface blood vessels there. I get a knit watch cap and olen the top so it is a big ring. I pull this over my head and stuff it around my throat to seal out air.
https://www.amazon.com/Genuine-U-S-N.../dp/B0009X4AOU

For hooves go to a fisherman’s supply store and get what they are using. I guy rubber gloves, long gauntlet type, fleece lined. Buy at least 3 pairs so when one gets wet you can swap out.

Carry hand warmers, “hot hands”.

Keep harnessed and on a short tether.

Buy a pee bottle. A quart milk bottle will work.
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Old 21-12-2021, 09:03   #13
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Re: Who Winter Sails Subzero?

Condensation can be a problem. If you sleep in the v-berth your breath will condense on the ceiling and rain on your bedding. Bring extra clothing, and bedding to be dry.
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Old 21-12-2021, 09:10   #14
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Re: Who Winter Sails Subzero?

Watch the weather, dress warm, lots of layers and motor or motor sail as much as possible, you'll be surprised how fast the cabin cools off. Much nicer to pull into a marina or anchorage with a warm dry cabin and hot water (if equipped). Having a large hot thermal mass of steel in your boat goes a long way. Like others have said carry lots of spare filters and ensure the motor is in top shape, harbor hop and start and stop early. Stay put if you experience freezing rain/spray, this can make the decks deadly and solidify gear and lines in place.
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Old 21-12-2021, 09:13   #15
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Re: Who Winter Sails Subzero?

I day sail all winter here in New York on Long Island sound with occasional overnight cruises.
Extra foulies, gloves, boots etc. a must.
Diesel heater is great warm and dry. I am playing with running duct into cockpit without
cutting any holes.
I run it with mostly kerosene (burns cleaner/less problems) sometimes a mix kero/diesel.
Also have put kero in main diesel but usually just does not get that cold here.
Weather cloth on lifelines/stanchions (lashed light line)
I have installed snaps on my bimini so I can snap on a sun shade when sun low in summer and snap on clear for wind break in winter.
Didnt read all, hope you have a dodger/spray hood.
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