Tuesday, January 27, 2015


Every once in a while I get the opportunity to blog about something boat or water related outside of the Chesapeake Bay. There was our boat trip to Atlantic City a few years back. Then we had an amazing time snorkeling with manatees in Florida one December. This time, it was a trip to Bermuda.

First off, no, we did not take the boat to Bermuda. That is the first question everyone asked us when they heard about the trip. While it is possible to boat to Bermuda, there were two things standing in our way:
  1. We were only going on a 6 day trip. We had sailboat friends that sailed to Bermuda from NYC and it took them 5 days straight to get there. Our entire vacation would have been spent getting to Bermuda.
  2. Our boat isn't really built for that sort of travel. Plus, there aren't any gas stations along the way.
So, we flew.

There were a couple key boating related sites that I just had to see.

Did you know that Bermuda is home to the world's smallest drawbridge? The Somerset Bridge is only 32 inches wide. Want proof? I was able to stand on either side of the bridge.
The hand-operated drawbridge is just wide enough to allow a sailboat's mast.
The bridge has been rebuilt in modern times but it can be found in historical records dating back to 1620.

We also climbed 185 steps to the top of one of the world's oldest cast iron lighthouses. Gibb's Hill Lighthouse has aided sailors since 1846. Our first glimpse of the lighthouse was from the golf course at our hotel.
Visitors can climb to the top for a mere $2.50.
We stayed at the Fairmont Southampton and could see sheltered coves from our balcony.

If any runners read this blog, I highly recommend the Bermuda Running Festival. The races were the initial reason for our trip. You can test your endurance and sanity by running the Bermuda Triangle Challenge -- Friday evening is the Front Street Mile, Saturday morning is the Bermuda 10K, and Sunday morning is the Bermuda Half-Marathon or Marathon. Runners that complete all three races receive 4 medals celebrating their accomplishment. I completed the Half Marathon challenge and came home with some serious bling. The courses are absolutely beautiful, the crowd support is genuine, and the weather is perfect for running. Add it to your calendar for next January.
Running related trips have also taken us to the Bay Bridge Marina and St. Michaels. Any suggestions on where we should go next?

Lastly, we did not leave our boat and cats unattended for six days during the cold winter in Baltimore. Weekend warrior friends of ours are considering the liveaboard lifestyle. We asked them to "boatsit" while we were gone so they could get a taste of the floating life. It was a win-win situation. We had someone to take care of everything and they got a fun experience. No word yet on if the long weekend has put them on a liveaboard fast-track or has "cured" them of any desire to liveaboard.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Winter Water Delivery

Potable water is a precious commodity for liveaboards in winter climates. It's common to hear people discuss the size of their fresh water tank and how they stretch out the water it contains. We have a 130 gallon fresh water tank. During the summer months we easily go about 3-4 days without even having to think about conserving water. During the winter months we have to watch our usage. We are typically able to get a full tank twice a week but winter likes to throw curveballs so that water is never a guarantee.

Harborview really caters to the liveaboard community here. Once the water is turned off to the docks, the marina staff delivers water to all liveaboards on a weekly schedule. They fill our dock up on Tuesdays. The water is also turned on for self-service on Saturdays for a couple of hours.

I know this sounds absolutely amazing to many other liveaboards. I've read/heard stories of people disconnecting washing machines in marina laundry rooms and running hundreds of feet of hose to get water. There are people who hand carry/cart hundreds of gallons down the docks each winter. Boaters get creative and run hoses underwater so the water inside won't freeze.

The problem with our situation is that it is easy to get lazy. It is easy to think the water will always be there. Well.... it's not.

Remember winter's curveballs? Two were thrown at us last week.

1) Last Tuesday brought 4 inches of snow to Baltimore. That's not a ton of snow but it did keep the marina staff busy clearing, shoveling, and salting all day. So, our water delivery was postponed by a day. Wednesday was cold, cold, cold and I think there was still some snow safety maintenance type of work to do. So, Wednesday came and went without water. Thursday arrived with WATER! Our tank was filled and all was well in the land. The marina staff works very hard to keep everyone on a water schedule but there is nothing they can do about the weather. We have a dependable fresh water tank gauge and we made sure we had enough water to last until that Thursday fill up.

2) Saturday brought 18 degrees and wind. We went to hook up our hose for the self-service and found there was no water again. This time the water was freezing in the pipes before it could get down the docks. We had just been filled up on Thursday so we had lots of water but it's always nice to top off when you get the chance. Harborview has a backup plan for these days:
Yup, those are five 5-gallon potable water containers. You fill them at the marina building and cart them to your boat. They are heavy and bulky but they do the trick. We chose to do one trip to give us a 3/4 tank of water.

This week is looking much warmer (i.e., above freezing) so let's hope everything is back on schedule. I do want to thank our marina for have excellent year-round plans in place and doing all they can for the liveaboards.

Check out Prepping for Winter -- Part 2 for more information about water onboard.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

But Baby It's Cold Inside

46 degrees! Sounds quite pleasant for a spring morning. Unfortunately, that was the temperature at the head of my bed this morning -- INSIDE the boat. The temperature outside at 7am was 9 degrees with a wind chill of -6. In comparison, the inside temp was balmy.

The reverse cycle heat has been off for about a week now and the electric radiators are struggling to keep up. We have three radiators plugged in at all times -- one in each stateroom and one in the salon. The one in the salon and in our stateroom are set for 65 degrees. I swear they are like the little engine that could. They keep trying and trying and trying. Unlike that trusty engine, they simply can't make it to the top of the hill. In their defense, they are radiators (yes, I am defending an inanimate object). They do exactly what they are supposed to do - radiate heat. With nothing to circulate that hot air the heat only radiates so far. They do keep the boat from getting too cold but there are definite hot and cold pockets.

Before you get all worried, I'm not shivering in bed every night. Flannel sheets, a blanket, and a feather bed do wonders. At one point last night I actually woke up too warm.

Why don't we just plug in more heaters? Or perhaps turn up the heat on the radiators? Sounds like a great idea! One little problem -- the heaters use a lot of amps and we have a fixed amount available to us via our shore power. I'd rather add another blanket than get up in the middle of the night to figure out which breaker has tripped. The previous owners made sure we could plug heaters into the reverse cycle units thus protecting our ability to use other appliances at the same time. This helps immensely but there is still only so much we can do.

During the day, I do add a ceramic heater to the salon. I also sit on a heated blanket while I work. With all that we are pretty much maxed out. While it's windy out again today, I am grateful that the sun is out in full force. It really makes a difference. It's currently 61 degrees in the salon.

Looking ahead -- Tuesday is supposed to be above freezing all day! Woohoo! Break out the bikinis and tropical drinks!

And to all you landlubbers -- you may have lots of heat but I still love my boat lifestyle.