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February 2013

Surviving Winter (On a Boat?)

February 25, 2013
A lot of people have been asking us how we’ve been staying warm this winter on the boat. After a bit of a bumpy start with all the stuff we’ve had to learn, it actually hasn’t been too bad. Though we have gotten a couple of nice blasts of wintry weather! Here are a few pics from the last big snowstorm: photo-16small
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Rich made us a nice cover for the boat, which has helped a lot. We were doing really well with the zipper door that Rich installed for getting in and out, but one cold night Rich went out to adjust a line that was making too much noise and came back in with a sad look on his face. Unfortunately he hadn’t been able to fix the line, but while he was out there he somehow managed to pull the zipper door off altogether. Unfortunately, it’s pretty hard to put back on because the adhesive doesn’t stick so well when it’s below freezing so we had to improvise for a couple of days!

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Fortunately, he managed to fashion a new door from a tarp that is doing the trick for now…

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Here’s the heater we keep going in the salon. It puts out a surprising amount of warmth and keeps the cabin pretty darned snuggly.

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And this is the ceramic heater that we keep in the head. I was skeptical when Rich first brought it home, but it keeps this part of the boat surprisingly warm!

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But for us the pièce de résistance for winter survival has been the dehumidifier. People told us that the hardest thing about wintering aboard would be the condensation, and they weren’t kidding! We knew we had a problem the first time we came home to find a bunch of the clothes in my locker covered in mold. Did I mention that I was not exactly pleased about this development? After that little incident, Rich heroically covered over all the ports with plastic and put this groovy silver insulation stuff on all of the walls, which helped a lot. We also added tubs of this stuff called Damp Rid (a moisture-absorbing substance that resembles kitty litter) to the mix, but we went through a lot of it really quickly and it wasn’t quite doing the trick. That was when we decided to bring in the big guns with the dehumidifier and everything has been nice and dry ever since. We haven’t come up with a name for our dehumidifier yet, but he’s really earned his keep so far this winter!
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Getting water to the boat has been a bit of a challenge since the marina turns off the water at the docks at the end of the season. We use these blue five-gallon jugs to fill up at the marina bathroom sink, which works surprisingly well. Rich has been a total trouper about doing the heavy lifting on this for most of the winter, but I even brought down a couple (half-filled jugs) myself today. I didn’t know this until we started this production but a gallon of water weighs eight pounds (actually 8.34 pounds if you want to get technical), so each five-gallon jug weighs 40 pounds (okay, 41.7 pounds) when filled. I’ve been going to the gym a bit more of late, but not so much that I can carry 80 pounds back to the boat by myself. Someday!

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Another item we’re really enamored of these days is the electric kettle. Since we don’t have hot water on the boat yet, it’s been really handy for boiling water for doing dishes and for making coffee in the morning. Since our oven doesn’t work, we also recently purchased the world’s smallest Crock Pot and have been getting creative with cooking with it. So far I’ve made a funky Indian curry thing that wasn’t too bad and Rich has made some yummy stews. We’re definitely not starving!

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We’ve also been taking advantage of something we discovered when we were without power for 10 days after Sandy: candles. They create a nice warm glow that really cozies up the joint in these dark winter months!

And speaking of making our home cozy, my mom made us some Mata Hari pillows that are so cute and really make it feel homey. This is our favorite one:

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Today we decided to work on another way to keep ourselves warm this winter: homemade Bailey’s Irish Cream, pretty darned tasty! Here’s Rich’s recipe:

1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup half and half
1 cup coffee
3-4 T chocolate syrup
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups Irish whiskey (or Canadian Club, which is what we used)

Combine everything but the booze in a mixing bowl and blend. Then slowly add the whiskey to the mix and blend until just combined. Serve in your coffee, or on its own over ice. Refrigerate the leftovers (if there are any). It should keep for up to two months.