Saturday, January 12, 2013

Does Your Boat Move When The Wind Blows?

We're about to get hit from the North

The news of our recent move from Townhouse to Sailboat has gradually made the rounds at my office.  This has sparked the usual questions of "why" and "for how long"…  and the usual big eyes at my answers.  

A couple of weeks ago, on the heels of a particularly strong (for us) Norther', the questions about the weather began.  Does your boat have heat?… What do you do when it rains?… Does your boat move when the wind blows?… Are you scared, can you sleep???

The Townhouse we own was built solid in 1968.  Mother Nature had to produce a pretty impressive display before we became aware of it.  Many mornings, I would make it all the way to the office parking lot before I realized I needed a jacket.  Only the most torrential downpour would rouse us from sleep.  

Living aboard a sailboat these past two months, we are much more in tune with the weather… I would say we are active participants in it.  We watch it.  We note the discrepancies between forecast and reality.  We experience the exact moment when the wind changes direction.  We shiver from the cold and swelter in the heat.  OK, that's a stretch… we have heating and AC so we've never SWELTERED, but I've shivered a little bit when I crawl into my cold damp sheets at night…  We aren't camping in some flimsy tint!  We have quite a nice little floating home with lots of amenities.

Since we've moved aboard, we have had five pretty good wallops from the North.  These were forecast within hours and Bruce had the boat prepared with extra lines at strategic points.  The first Norther' had us both on deck making minor adjustments in a crazy wind in the middle of the night.  (It was kind of exhilarating) But since then, when the wind hits, the boat bounces and tilts in the slip.  We wake up, Bruce takes a quick look around outside and we settle back down to cozy sleep.  

Lightning lit up the night sky
We have actually enjoyed watching a couple of storms pass over from the comfort of our cockpit enclosure.  Our previous boats had only bimini tops and bow dodgers.  (top and forward canvas covers like a roof and windshield) Our full enclosure is QUITE a luxury for us and we're lovin' it!  It's like having an enclosed patio/sunroom in the winter.  We relax inside our "bubble" and ignore the wind/rain/cold conditions outside.  

Ok, so now for the reality check…  My reason for moving aboard prior to leaving for our cruising adventure was to give us time to use all of the equipment and make sure everything works.  I figured it would be better to have to fix things while we are in familiar surroundings than to wait until we were out there.  So… Evidently our aft AC was limping along and with increased use, it has decided to retire.  We are using a cheap space heater while researching it's replacement.  (cha-ching).  OKOK I can hear you seasoned cruisers out there screaming "you don't NEED AC to go cruising".  Yes but we want it be be an option, so we'll be replacing it.  

Then there's the water-in-our-bed episode from last week's torrential downpour.  Really it rains so seldom here, this is the first time we've had a chance to test the boat for leaks.  Evidently the drain in the propane locker on deck wasn't able to keep up with the demand, causing the water to rise inside the locker to the level of the mount screws for the propane bottles.  They were not water tight and water seeped in and ran down the hull into our aft cabin.  This was a pre-existing issue that Bruce thought he had addressed.  I've ordered some butyl tape to use in sealing the screw holes to fix it right up.  A reader noted that if water can get in… so can a propane leak.  Dangerous stuff!  

Am I scared?  Only a fool would be totally unafraid…. Sure when the boat heels wildly there are those creeping thoughts of "what if that forward dock line snaps?"… "What would this blow be like if we were out at anchor?"  We will SURELY be anchored or under way during some weather in our travels.  When these thoughts come… I tell myself that this boat has seen some pretty tough times and is built to handle it.  Each new experience we have together gives me more confidence and trust in the vessel that we have chosen to take us exploring.   

So… while we are still Cruisers-In-Waiting, we are just fine in our slip.  Once I retire and we set out, we will address the more "technical" aspects of weather… We will look at the many different options available for obtaining accurate pertinent weather information that are available to Cruisers today.  That will be quite the learning curve so I'm socking away bits of information to save for that day when I have more free time. 

For now… we embrace the consequences of the choice we've made.  I will squeegee the windows on the car before my drive to work.  I will lay a towel down as I climb out of the cockpit in my work pants and crank the line which brings the boat close enough for me to jump to the dock… and I will feel one with the universe as I turn my face to the wind and marvel at the awesome sunrises, sunsets and rainbows I've been missing all the years we've lived ashore. 

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