Monday, November 25, 2013

Prepping for Winter - Part 2

Winter has come early to Baltimore - Sunday's high temperature was 35 degrees with a low of 28. According to the high was 18 degrees below average and the low was 6 degrees below average. Add in 24 mph winds with 39 mph gusts and you've got a really cold November day for Maryland.

Quick science quiz -- what happens to water when it sinks below 32 degrees?

DING DING DING! That's right! It freezes! It gets hard as a rock. It is useful for little (other than keeping a martini cold).

Every slip in the marina has one of these handy towers for power, water, and cable TV.
Of course, the water to the tower only flows if the pipes aren't frozen. We had already received word that the water pipes on the piers would be winterized on Tuesday due to projected cold temperatures. I think Sunday took everyone by surprise. Honestly, I was really hoping to have unlimited water until mid-December.

Here is how things normally work for us -- we have a 130 gallon fresh water tank. We monitor the levels using the gauge on our control panel.
We have found that we typically have plenty of water for 3-4 days worth of showers, dishes, and bathroom flushes and we refill the tank when it drops to a quarter tank.

Filling the tank is easy as we have a hose permanently linked up when we are docked. It's lot like filling your car with gas.
We have a white garden hose that reaches from the dock tower to our water refill under the little starboard side door.
Many liveaboards attach a hose to their shore water inlet so that they don't have to go through the hassle of refilling their tank every few days. We choose to fill our tanks instead because we anchor our so much during the summer. Water that comes in through the inlet bypasses the fresh water storage tank and flows directly to the faucets. This is similar to the city water that flows into houses. When we are anchored out, we obviously do not have access to shore water so we use the fresh water tank. In order to keep that tank clean we use it year round so that the water is fresh and constantly being replaced.

Now, back to winter. Once freezing temperatures descend upon the area our fresh water will be limited. The water lines to the docks will be winterized until spring. But, wait - I said we could only go 3-4 days with the water in one full tank. Harborview Marina is very liveaboard friendly. The staff will run water out to the boats once a week in order to fill the tanks. We will also have self-serve access on Saturdays. The heat on the boat will keep the water in the fresh water tank from freezing.

Still doesn't sound like quite enough water? Don't fear - we won't stop showering during the winter months. The marina office has male and female locker rooms with two showers in each. There are also two clothes washers and two dryers. So while it will be a bit of a pain to walk up there for showers and laundry, the other fantastic 9 months of the year will make it all worth it (at least that's what I keep telling myself).

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Prepping for Winter - Part 1

The days of resort living will soon be on hiatus as we enter a time period I call "elegant camping." This will be the first in a set of posts about the prep work required to protect the boat and our possessions during winter.

Part 1 - The External Water Systems

As temperatures start to approach the freezing mark, most home owners turn off the water to outside hose bibs and open those faucets to prevent damage from the expansion of frozen water. The same goes for a boat only we have a few more connections that need to be turned off.
Bow Wash Down Hose
Aft Wet Bar and Ice Maker
Transom Shower, Spigot, and Shore Water Inlet
 Luckily, our boat came with a handy Owner's Guide.
Remember the follow the line puzzles we did as kids?
Thanks to the St. John's International School for this image.
It's a good thing I liked those because the Guide contains an adult version of that puzzle for the water lines on the boat.
We followed the lines and located the three areas we needed to address. For example, the transom shower, spigot, and water intake are funneled underneath the sink in the master head.
The water from the fresh water tank comes in from the right. It then goes up to the sink in the master head and left to the external pipes. The blue is cold water; the red is hot.
We disconnected and blocked the hoses to the external water and left the hoses to the internal sink open.
Everything was moving along nicely and we thought we were done - until I tried to flush the toilet in the forward head and found we had no water. We looked at the map again and confirmed that we had followed the right lines. So why wasn't there any water?

Well, that map does not lead the way when a previous owner has made changes. After a little detective work (i.e., searching in other access panels and hatches), Doug found that there must have been an issue with the forward toilet in the past. When repairs were made (or possibly when/if the toilet was replaced) a new water line was run and spliced in further up the line than anticipated. No problem, we simply reconnected the original block and replicated the process further up.

Doug did his best to blow any remaining water out of the lines and poured in some marine antifreeze for added protection.

Step 1 complete. Stay tuned for more winterization fun.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A New Mattress!

Okay - so you may be wondering why you should read this post. "So what, people get new mattresses every day," you say. Yes, however, those people go to Mattress Discounters, pick out a mattress and box spring, precariously tie them to the roof of their vehicle, and drive off. I have a boat bed, therefore, it is an odd shape. There are no standard sizes or shapes. I go to a boat show, pay for half of my new mattress, and go home with a measuring kit.
Portland Boat Mattress has made the process simple and easy. First, remove the old mattress and lay the pattern sheet into the bed frame:
Next, trace the inside edge of the frame onto the template using a black marker:
It's a little hard to see the marker lines in this photo but they are there.
The top part of our mattress has a beveled edge, so we used the handy bevel tool to mark the angle:

We also requested a hinge down the middle of the mattress so we can easily get to access panels under the bed:
If you are really curious about the process, you can watch their video. The pattern is shipped back and a new mattress arrives few weeks later. They even called us and our marina office a couple days before the mattress arrived to let us know the expected delivery date -- very helpful!

After wrestling out the old mattress:
And maneuvering the new one:
We went from this old mattress (No offense against the old owners of this boat, I'm sure they were very nice people, but I was really tired of sleeping on their mattress):
To this comfortable new one:
It's the 9" Latex Supreme Firm and I can honestly say that I felt like I was sleeping on a plush hotel room mattress. It's that comfortable.

And the hinge works like it's supposed to work:
Good job! Portland Boat Mattress!

Friday, November 1, 2013

October Neighbors

I just signed us up for winter water which is a sure sign that the boating season is winding down. Nevertheless, we did have a couple new neighbors in October.
This neighbor was towed in. Haven't had a chance to talk to them yet so I don't know the circumstances.

It needs a little work but check out the cool detailing on the bow of the sailboat.