It was a winter of clouds, rain and frigid air in the gray city. This was my first winter on Oswin and although curling up in the v-berth (my sleeping area) while hearing the rain fall above me was incredibly soothing, I was starting to get a little stir crazy by the beginning of March.
The darkness and rain were the hardest parts. Unable to open the doors to my boat for the past five months, I ended up burrowing inside with bottles of wine and whiskey without even realizing I had become a drunken sailor.
How did I get through the winter? Mostly, wine and whiskey. But there were a few other things I made sure to do on the boat to survive.
For warmth, I would come home from work and immediately turn on my DeLonghi oil heater, along with my heated blanket. I avoided infrared heaters because the coils are extremely flammable. If anything from a piece of paper to a thread touches those coils, a fire could start. Hence, the oil heater. The oil is contained and well suited for a small space on a boat.
If I got home late to the boat though, it was a struggle. I turned the power off during the day to keep down on electric costs, so it would take extra long to heat the boat if I strolled in at 9 p.m. Even the heated blanket didn’t save me at that point.
With heat on a boat, surrounded by chilled sea water, moisture builds. I was told dehumidifiers are key for winters on a boat, but I actually did not use mine as often. At first, I turned my dehumidifier on all day and night, but I found I was drying out my boat to the point where I woke up in the morning gasping for water. Since my dehumidifier could handle 45 pints of water per day, it was sucking too much moisture out of the air. I ended up turning it off after December and found my boat kept itself pretty dry.
I still had to purchase ice for my icebox to keep anything refrigerated. I actually enjoyed this part of winter because my ice would last twice as long with the surrounding cold. At one point, I found my olive oil froze solid in its glass bottle, something I didn’t even know could happen. However, I started to relax on how much ice I kept in the icebox and ended up with a bacterial infection (oops).
Even with the infection, I mostly kept a comfortable environment indoors. The winter did rough up Oswin’s exterior, specifically my doorway into the cabin. To get into my boat, I had to remove three wooden slats one by one, instead of a simple door knob. And in the winter, the wooden slats expanded and became harder to remove. Annoyed, I ended up climbing over the three slats and swung my legs inside the boat as if I was climbing the monkey bars on the elementary school playground. The plus side to this was I became more acrobatic.
The day I knew winter was over was when I could remove the top wooden slat and create a walkway for myself to step inside the boat. I felt complete relief.