Ship's Log

February 25th, 2008:

Tips for Living on a Boat During a Northeastern Winter:

* Switch to a powdered laundry detergent.  If you store your liquid detergent in an out-of-the-way spot, it'll probably freeze.  And if you thaw it out and try to use it anyway, it'll have separated into water and sludge.

* Plan your meals around the amount of water they require for preparation and clean-up, since it's a 45 minute process to fun 300' of garden hose to fill your tanks up.  And forget about filling them if the temperature outside is below freezing-- the water will turn to ice before it ever reaches your tank and then your hoses will be ruined for next time!  Low on water with a windchill of 4 degrees?  Grilled cheese sandwiches eaten off napkins.  Full tanks and a warming trend?  Go crazy and use more than one pot!  Break out the real dishes!  You're living the high life now!  Tell yourself this is good practice for cruising.

* Buy yourself some shoes with excellent tread for walking the docks.  If you happen to fall in and no one notices, the shock of the freezing water combined with the weight of your waterlogged heavy clothes will make it very hard for you to climb out.  

* Prepare yourself for isolation and beef up your Metrocard.  Marinas are desolate places in the winter, since all the fun-loving, sane people are sitting in front of their fireplaces and sipping cocoa while you're shooing surly Canadian geese away from your bubble door.  Only your most dedicated and adventurous 'land' friends will come to the boat for visits.  And who can blame them?  Go and visit them instead, and try to act casual around their thermostats and bathtubs.

Resist the urge to drown your wintry sorrows in drink.  
Here's Louie, passed out in the middle of the day after a milk binge.  Not a proud moment.  

* Purchase an electric blanket!  This will be the best money you'll spend all winter.  No matter how you heat your boat, it's still a fiberglass shell floating in  freezing water, and this is never more apparent than at bedtime.  Plug in your magic blanky and you can sleep in regular pajamas again instead of all those bulky layers.  If you bribe your ridiculous dog to sleep on your feet instead of crowding your pillow, you won't even have to wear socks!  Pump a fist in the air:   you're living the high life again!

* Take advantage of your bubble on sunny days.  When the temperature climbs in your floating greenhouse and the weak winter sun is high, wear a t-shirt and lounge about in your cockpit as though you're anchored in paradise on a July afternoon.  Add an umbrella to your drink, even.  Repeatedly ask your   companion and pets if it's 'hot enough for [them]'.  But be sure to go inside well before the sun starts to goes down-- the rapidly dropping temperature will   shatter your delusion too abruptly.
* Above all, keep your composure and remember that you are doing this for a reason.  You will not always be living on a shrink-wrapped sailboat in sleety New Jersey.  When your hair has again frozen stiff during the walk from the showers back to the boat, resist the urge to peal off to the nearest hotel with a jacuzzi and king-sized accommodations.  You are saving money with which to escape, you are 'paying your dues', and this will all be hilarious this time next year.

These are just a few of the pearls of wisdom we're collecting for a leaflet we're going to print up this spring.  We'll sneak into the marina's main office during the spring rush to let those poor saps planning to move aboard this summer what they're in for once fall starts creeping in!  Tentative titles include:  "The Cold Doesn't Bother Me and Other Lies to Tell Yourself", "What's that Smell?  Alicia and Brian's Guide to Boat Living" or maybe "BTUs and You's:  The NYC/NJ Area Liveaboard's Guide".

On the project front, leak eradification is chugging along.  Any hole you make in a fiberglass boat is going to eventually leak, but if you bed things properly with plenty of sealant, it might be ten years before you see that dreaded trickle.  In SARABANDE's case, there are more than a few dreaded trickles on our list.  Rebedding is a simple process, easy but time-consuming and kind of boring.  

Step #1:  Remove the hardware in question, including all screws, bolts, brackets, etc.  You want to be looking at a bare hole in your hull.  If you're working on, say, the leaky hatch in your head, the first step might look something like this:


In this case, we've got an aluminum hatch frame that sat on a plastic collar which sat on a teak rim.  We're saving the aluminum frame and ditching the rest.

As this zoom-in shows, our deck is made of plywood sandwiched between two layers of fiberglass.  When leaks happen, water rots the wood.  The pink arrows point to a few of the many holes made by the screw that held the hatch in place, which also leaked.

More photos, including the completion of this project and it's dramatic 'ultimate test' in our next update.  As you can see, things are as exciting as can be here on SARABANDE, and we hope you folks are just as jazzed as we are about the middle of winter.

Stay snug!  Belated birthday wishes to Alicia's mom Belinda (February 23rd)!

Ta ta for now,


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