Thursday, January 30, 2014

Winter Oasis

As you are most likely aware, the Polar Vortex has settled its chilly self firmly into my world. Last Friday, as I looked forward to the predicted temperatures for the weekend, I couldn't wait to get to Philadelphia.

Philadelphia? Aren't you in Baltimore? Why would you want to go further north?

Because Philadelphia had one of these:
And one of these -- with as much water as I wanted!
And one of these -- that actually kept my room nice and comfortable:
This is perhaps the only non-HVAC blog with a photograph of a thermostat.
I'm an active member of the Association for Library Service to Children (a division of the American Library Association) and I was attending the Midwinter Conference. The conferences are always a highlight of my year -- participating in the important work of the association, seeing new books, meeting authors, and time with old friends. Only this year, the draw of a hotel room was stronger than ever. I was away for three nights but the mural outside my window kept me from feeling homesick.
The break from the elegant camping of my winter marina has left me refreshed and ready for another month of cold. I highly recommend that all winter liveaboards splurge on a hotel night halfway through winter.

Back home, the cold and almost windless environment has led to an icy marina.
Luv'n Life IV is completely iced in.
The birds seem to like it:
And quite a few boats have put out their de-icers.

I'm just enjoying the sun as it reflects off the ice and keeps it from getting much thicker. Still loving it, long until summer?

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Snowy Weather - Round 2

It's been snowing in Baltimore since 9am this morning - light, fluffy flakes that dance in the wind. We are under a Winter Storm Warning until 11pm and temps are predicted to drop to 10 degrees. We've been here before so we are a bit more prepared and got to enjoy the beauty of a snow covered marina.

Luv'n Life IV is definitely seeing her share of snow this season:

I had to sweep snow away from our water and pumpout access.
The wind blew snow right into the aft "sunroom":
So, I used the snow to chill wine for dinner:
Time for fun -- snow angels on the docks!!!
I have to send out a huge kudos to the dock staff at Harborview. They were clearing snow all day. I personally swept snow from our swim platform 4 times today, so imagine clearing an entire marina with winds blowing snow right back to every spot. We may not be in sunny Florida but we are in one of the best spots for winter liveaboard life.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The First Real Test of Winter

It was cold and the winds were blowing. No, not blowing, gusting at 46 mph. Finding the pin-sized holes in the zipper of my jacket and chilling me to the bone. And I was grateful.

Grateful?!?!? Yes, grateful. We've had a little bit of ice around the marina this winter. Icicles on anchors:
Frozen dock lines:
And a bit of surface ice; a thin layer that doesn't cause issues. But last night they were calling for record low temperatures and I didn't want to worry about more ice, thicker ice. Ice thick enough to cause hull damage.

Granted, we don't live far enough north to worry about docks being destroyed or ripped out due to ice. We don't even live far enough north for everyone to have an ice-eater/bubbler/de-icer. (The units circulate the deeper, warmer water toward the surface to help keep ice from forming.) A couple boats in the marina have one but we were able to depend on mother nature's de-icer last night --- the wind. Water in motion takes longer to freeze. The possibility of damage was probably minimal but it sure was nice to have a rockin' and rollin' insurance policy in place (honestly, the boat was rockin' and rollin' last night).

Now to the real story from last night -- the temperature. We've been able to keep the boat at a comfortable 65 degrees so far using three electric heaters. They had a bit of trouble keeping up last night. The temperature outside was 3 degrees at 5:19 this morning:
Another clue as to why there are so few de-icers around. Did you look at the forecast for Saturday?
61 degrees! We should all go sunbathing!
The radiator in our stateroom was set at 70 degrees and the Acu-Rite Thermometer one foot above it read:
Before you freak out -- the BOTTOM number is the temperature.
The TOP number is the humidity.
We were able to bring one more heater into the stateroom to help but that's also why they invented blankets. I was quite toasty. At least one cat was smart enough to snuggle under the blankets with us. The other kept showing up but probably slept right next to a heater.
Remember the condensation issue that everyone kept warning us about? It's safe to say that it showed up last night:
That is frost on the inside of my salon windows this morning. As I sit here writing this post at 10:30am, almost all of the frost on the sunny side of the boat has disappeared.
The farmer's almanac predicted a cold and wet winter for us. So far, they've been right on target. Many friends have said they hoped the almanac was wrong. They didn't want us to have to rough it out during the winter. My response has always been "Bring It On." If I'm going to do this boat thing, let's see what winter can throw at me. (And by winter I mean the Maryland definition of winter, no Great Lake winter, no Canadian winter, and certainly no Russian winter. Kudos to my Boston and Detroit colleagues that are truly roughing it.) Back to MD -- Don't give me some mild winter and a false sense of security, then freeze like mad a few winters later. I guess I've gotten my wish.

So, thank you to all of the friends that have offered couches, guest rooms, and guest houses. I really appreciate knowing that the option it there but I still don't want to leave my marina paradise.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

New Year's Eve

One of the best reasons to be on a boat in winter is New Year's Eve. Think about it -- the location is classy and exotic yet also low-key. You can dress up, dress down, or wear something in between. There are no tickets to buy (unless you count year-round boat payments) and the view is fantastic.

Grand Passion is just a couple slips away, so between the two boats there was plenty of room for four couples and a child to celebrate and stay overnight.
Forget going to an expensive restaurant. We had smoked salmon, whitefish, and duck, along with crab soup, pasta with homemade sauce, cheese and crackers, and a delectable brownie and strawberry dessert.

I was able to visit a couple of other boats that evening and saw the best inside-of-a-boat Christmas tree.
Including a double, working train set:
Wondering if I need to up the ante on my decorations next year. The only real issue is finding a place to store everything from January until November.

Right before midnight, we followed the Spanish tradition of eating twelve grapes each before the countdown was complete. Let's hope the good luck the tradition imparts comes true for each of us.

At midnight, we simply stepped onto the back of the boat for the Baltimore fireworks display. Other than the cold, the conditions were perfect for the display. The fireworks soared into the crisp sky and exploded in grand fashion. I was enjoying the show too much to take any photos but the barge was in the same place used for Independence Day.

No one had to rush to check out of a hotel room the next morning so we were able to linger over a homemade breakfast of waffles, bacon, and egg casserole. By combining the evening's leftovers with shrimp cocktail and fresh oysters we continued celebrating into the afternoon. It was like a raft-up without the anchors. Who says you can't "boat" in winter?

Every party has to end but the new year gives us so much to look forward to.