Winters Aboard

It seems a lot of people assume you have to pull your boat out for the winter to avoid ice damage to the hull. This is true if you are not going to keep an eye on your boat during the harsh months. When living aboard year round, you can't pull the boat out of the water and winterize it because this is your home! 

Dealing with ice is tricky. You can set up bubblers which create turbulence in the water to keep it from freezing. This is great as long as you have power, and during the harsh winter storms, the power tends to get taken out by falling ice covered trees. 

I have found that regular breaking of the ice around the hull proved sufficient to keep the hull safe during harsh times. I would stand on the deck and crack the ice with a long boat hook. I like to crack the ice off in sheets about 2 feet away from the boat. I can then push this large sheet of ice under the rest of the surrounding ice to create a large opening of water around my home. 

The winter of 2014/2015 (mainly during February 2015) was especially brutal! I would crack the ice in the morning before I would go to work, and by the next morning, it was thick enough to crack again! 

The other issue with ice is it indicates that the water temperature is below freezing and that means the reverse cycle heating/air-conditioning units need to be turned off. Most liveaboards rely on space heaters, but we have found that our diesel heater from Dickenson can comfortably keep our boat toasty on the coldest of nights! My concern with relying on the electric space heaters lies with the risk of power outages during ice storms. If electricity is your sole source of heat, you will be without it at the harshest of times!

Winters are not as bad as you might think, boats are a wonderful place to be on a cold day. You can snuggle up with a good book next to the fire or a space heater and enjoy your time inside. Everything is silent and peaceful, there are no wakes or drunk party boaters to deal with. While I don't get any sailing in when the water is iced, I do enjoy my time aboard. The most important thing to remember during harsh winters is that Spring is right around the corner and soon you will be enjoying the warmth of the sun while relaxing on the deck!