I’m currently shopping for a bumper sticker that says I survived the bomb cyclone of ’18.
We survived the recent bomb cyclone that plunged most of the east coast into an icy nightmare of bitterly cold temperatures, blizzards, gale force winds, burst pipes, and you can feel free to fill in the blanks with the details of your personal winter hell of choice.
For some, wintering aboard can mean such things as palm trees and umbrella drinks when you’ve escaped your old life and the only time you see snow is now on your Facebook feed. This is not us. For others, this is us, wintering aboard can mean such things as coming home one night to a boat that’s slightly below 40 degrees because the last one out forgot to leave the heater on.
That night was probably the most uncomfortable thing I’ve had to deal with, bomb cyclone included, because it took three hours to get warm and then I had to go to bed, because I was frozen to the couch in my hat and scarf, and because I spent the evening texting people about how cold I was. And because I live on a beautiful sailboat, I was home alone with no wine, it was chilly, and why is my life so hard. Read with sarcasm or message me and please send wine by the way.
Full disclosure- I’m a warm weather gal. I pack a cardigan in the dead of summer because what if I get cold? I’m chilly when it’s in the upper 60’s, and if I’d read the actual December and January forecast before I committed myself to life on the water, I’d have booked a hotel well in advance, stocked up on bonbons, and preemptively turned the thermostat up to tropical.
That said, instead of hotel reservations and bonbons, I bought a purple snowsuit way before it got cold. Thinking ahead here, people. I was probably wearing flip flops at the time. I brought said snowsuit to Philly for our annual New Year’s trip for purely utilitarian reasons like it’s going to be really cold, the snowsuit is really warm, and I don’t know anyone there. I like to think I’m hip and cool but the truth is that I’m not a purple snowsuit in a crowded public area kind of person. Purple in public aside, it’s so warm that I was particularly smug seeing others bundled up when I was only in a few layers and a giant purple puff. Please let the record show that while Charles was purchasing a fabulous new coat to beat the arctic Philly chill, I had to stand outside because I was too hot in the store. I also stopped on a corner and removed a fleece for the same reason. Did someone mention our annual New Year’s Eve trip to Philly? If yes, click here. If no, please keep on scrolling. We’ve had a new Airbnb and a new dive bar for the last two years, but that’s another post. This time I accidentally ordered a shot of pop rocks under the ice in my dive bar cocktail. Want to know where so you can accidentally order it too?
And so it goes, I’ve purchased some layers. And more layers. And scarves, snow pants, wool socks, an electric blanket, flannel sheets. Today I own more winter apparel than I’ve ever owned in my life combined.
And so it goes, we had the boat wrapped in early December. We’ve insulated our portholes neatly with bubble wrap and added a bubbler after New Year’s to keep the ice away from our hull. We have a diesel forced air heater (think central air that runs on diesel instead of electricity), and we have one petite but powerful electric space heater. With the diesel heater, we’re usually at a balmy 70 degrees, even when the wind chill falls into the teens and it hurts your lungs to go outside.
And so it goes, coming home to 5″ of ice that a cinder block dropped from above couldn’t crack on the first try. Thanks for the help, boat neighbor!
And so it goes, we watch the weather and carry on with our layers and our floating lives. When the weather initially turned for the season, we discovered that powerful northern winds often blow the water from our marina into the bay and create unusually low tides. Low tides as in breaking a 29-year record low by 3.6′ feet, low tides as in smaller boats can be seen resting in the mud on the bottom, low tides as in our boat sitting so low in the water that the level of the dock rises to my chest and shoulders. Imagine, if you will, exiting an unstable surface by pulling yourself belly-first onto a platform raised to shoulder-level with nothing to hold onto but splinters, and knowing that a missed step will plunge you into icy waters. Drama on the high seas! Fortunately, creative use of a large storage crate and Sylvie’s old puppy ramp prevented me from being trapped aboard during the worst of the low tides. Well, trapped on a sailboat, who am I kidding? I had hot tea, good books, snacks galore, and a good wifi connection.
And so it goes, during that worst of the tides low tide, in the worst of the bomb cyclone when I was home alone for two days because Charles and Sylvie were out adventuring without me, I was doing laundry in my snowsuit, shimmying up and down the ramp on my stomach with a clearance of only 12″. No ill will here however for my better half and the puppersnapper. I’m actually grateful for the opportunity to think on my feet with no one to call and to test my polar mettle in a crazy winter storm. My God, I passed that test with flying colors. Please note, if you will, that the dark area at the top of the piling in the picture below is normal tide level.
And so it goes with low tides, puppy ramps, and lots of layers. January is almost over, and the beauty of our first lovely crazy icy weather event is long gone. Knock on wood, February can be brutal here.
My usual coming soon quip where I close with a few details about what’s next is pretty backed up. I have about a million things I want to share, and then something else happens that I want to share and the last coming soon that I told you about gets replaced with something else. I’ll leave you with this: we sailed to a small island, we kind of won a blogging award but in the blogosphere you get an award, you get an award, everyone gets an award!, the moon was full and I have the pics to prove it, and we’re working on a fancy glossy magazine article with a full boat tour.
This is not the part where I tell you to please click like, comment, be sure to share us with your friends, and thank you to our Patreons. Instead, this is just the part where I say thanks for reading about my little floating life, I’m so glad I can share it with you.
“The cyclone ends. The sun returns; the lofty coconut trees lift up their plumes again; man dies likewise. The great anguish is over; joy has returned; the sea smiles like a child.” -P. Gaugin