8 tips for surviving winter as a live-aboard in the Salish Sea

A blanket of snow covers boats and docks in Poulsbo. Winter is rapidly approaching here in Puget Sound. The days are getting shorter and cooler, and while fall is still giving us some of the most beautiful days of the year, the time has come to start preparing for the cold, dark, damp months ahead. […]

A blanket of snow covers boats and docks in Poulsbo.

Winter is rapidly approaching here in Puget Sound. The days are getting shorter and cooler, and while fall is still giving us some of the most beautiful days of the year, the time has come to start preparing for the cold, dark, damp months ahead.

Here are eight suggestions for surviving the winter as a live-aboard:

  1. Give your boat a good cleaning. Purge anything you are no longer using, and store anything you will use again next year in a car, storage unit or at friend’s place. Scrub your interior until it’s shiny, vacuum all the corners and cracks, wash bedding. Starting winter with a clean boat is like starting a voyage with a clean boat — it just makes life better.
  2. Use a dehumidifier that can keep up with your needs. They come in many different sizes, but when you’re living aboard, you are creating moisture that wouldn’t be there if your boat was sitting empty over the winter. We use a thirty-pint unit and run it almost 24 hours a day.
  3. Get to know your neighbors. Sitting on a boat in the winter can be a little dreary, and its easy to let your spirits get down when you’re battling leaks and trying to sleep through noisy wind storms. One of the best solutions we’ve found for curing the winter doldrums is spending time with other boaters. Last winter, friends of ours would host a weekly happy hour on their boat with as many boater friends as they could fit in their 30-foot hull. And we’d often stop other live-aboards as we passed them on the dock to invite them in to share a pot of soup for dinner. It brightened our spirits on the dreariest of days, and probably theirs, too. 
  4. Pick and prepare for a few boat projects you can do inside. Do you need a few new wires? Or sew new settee covers? Completing a few things around the boat will make you feel like the time inside isn’t wasted. And come summer, you’ll be happy you don’t have to waste sailing days inside with the same jobs.
  5. Get yourself a Wonderbag. They’re available on Amazon and are an amazing alternative to an electric slow cooker. You simply heat your soup, chili or stew ingredients to a boil in a regular pan, put the lid on and tuck it into the Wonderbag. Then you can set it aside out of the way somewhere, and go about your day without worrying about an appliance overheating or starting a fire on your boat while you’re out.
  6. Save your plastic containers. All boats leak. It’s a reality of living aboard, and finding them is one of the most discouraging things about winter. Oftentimes there’s not a whole lot you can do in the moment to fix a leak other than putting something under the drip. Once you locate where the water ingress is coming from, make a note of it so you can make a permanent repair when the weather allows.
  7. Invest in good rain gear. Boots, jacket, pants and a good hat that covers your ears are necessary. It’s likely you have a long walk from your car to your boat, and that most of it will be exposed to all the elements the Pacific Northwest has to offer. When the wind is blowing rain sideways at you, you’ll be happy to be safely and warmly cocooned in your waterproof rain gear.
  8. Get up early and enjoy a sunrise. They’re never prettier than in the winter. You’re just going to have to trust me on this one.

What tips do you have for surviving the winter aboard? Leave them in the comments below. 

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