Deep Freeze

It’s been consistently cold since I last wrote. Overnight negative teens regularly.

That’s a winter hat I’ve had for 30 years. It doesn’t come out often.

I quite like this weather, and there aren’t many people out. I’ve been walking 7+ km daily between Susan’s place and Escapade. Nice to be out.

The boat is fine. Ice is comfortably at bay and cover is intact. I leave a 1500w heater on forward, and all thermostats set to 8C when I’m off the boat. Lots of heat in the ER from the furnace exhaust.

I finally had to fetch fuel a few days ago. No big deal to get 80l in four cans and dump it in. There is a fuel station two blocks away. I’m using about 10l per day on average, but that will get better once the weather breaks.

I’ve been sort of lollygagging the last few months, getting through the dark period and COVID lock down, and spending some time with Susan. She has just completed a fairly long and arduous experimental treatment for Parkinson Disease.

Now as I look at the calendar I realize that I should be on a path to being fully under way in 10 weeks. Time to get to work!

Uninstalled boat parts


Winter in the marina. I finally hung a de-icer off the stern today.

It’s been well below freezing here for the past week or so, but this is the first time I’ve had ice encroachment. My neighbor in front has kept a big pool open with his system.

I’m quite confident I can keep my second unit dry. On my limited shore power I basically swap 1500w heaters for bubblers. Now I’m down to one heater from two.

Here are a few pics walking to the boat this afternoon. Beautiful and sunny, but chilly.

Saturday Night

I’m on Escapade listening to blues on CBC. I’ll sleep aboard tonight for the first time in weeks.

Ice at bay

It’s been a benign and mild winter so far and I realized today that January is almost done. We’ve been managing well. Just had the first real cold snap. My neighbors turned on their bubbles and I’m still in their pool. The furnace now has about 300 hours on it. I leave two 1500w heaters on full time, and set the temp on all thermostats to 10 when away. Fuel is below half, but a couple of trips with Jerry cans should keep us through the winter.

Boat projects: ordered a Rocna 33 anchor, and am pursuing a snubber solution. Discussion here.

After much deliberation, I ordered a set of davits. I had been thinking of storing the dinghy up top, but had a bunch concerns with deployment that sent me back to a system that I know will work fine for me.

Electronics: I’ve ordered an AIS tranceiver.

I’ve been scoping out additional fuel tankage. I think i have a plan, but haven’t committed yet. Getting pricing for flexible tanks. Discussion here.

Not much other boat stuff this time of year! I’ll chat about spring plans in a new post some time soon.

New Dinghy

I just bought a new dinghy, a 2021 Highfield Ultralight 340 Hypalon. Info here

I’ve been thinking of a new RIB for the last year or more. The local dealer runs good January specials, and they had very good pricing on the Hypalon version. I think I’ll be happy with it.

I have an old Yamaha 15 hp 2 stroke that will be a good match for the boat. Total dry weight of the boat and motor is under 200 pounds. My plan has been to keep it on top of the deckhouse, but I’ve recently been having doubts about that. The alternative is a good set of davits. In any case the new dinghy is well suited for either storage method.


No ice yet, but -5 or so with a stiff NE wind. Recent gusts at the island airport in the high 30s. East winds are nasty here, with the wind coming down the waterfront.

I got the shrink wrap on last week, and went around today tying the frame legs together and checking it over. Overall it’s a D grade job. Sarah and I did it all from the deck, which was a very bad idea. We messed up the belly straps. And the film I bought was low quality. Burned a few big holes. But I think it’ll hold together for the winter.

Heat is great, hot water plentiful. I had no problem filling my water tank this week using the permanent hose laid underwater from the dock house to the dock close by. It’s a comfortable home. I love the motion and connection to the water and weather. 123 hours on the furnace after 21 days of operation.

For the next few weeks I’m cocooning with family. There’s a pandemic raging around us, and the city is on lockdown. So I’m visiting the boat daily, but not living aboard.

Happy holidays!

Solar Panels

I got solar panels installed this fall.  700 watts on the pilothouse roof.

I bought the four 175 watt flexible panels from Renogy and installed a Victron Smartsolar 50/100 controller.  This connects via bluetooth to my phone to a slick app.

I put a Victron Smartshunt on the house bank as well.  Ran the boat on just solar for a week or two and no problems running the fridge, lights etc. 

To mount the panels I used VHB tape, the thickest available.  I ran strips parallel to allow some air flow for cooling.

I’m very pleased with the result. The panels are very unobtrusive, and will allow me to live at a mooring comfortably.

Total cost was about $2,000.


I wrote wrote earlier about my plans for heat, and the new system has been running perfectly for 12 days now. Just in time.

Master bedroom heater and themostat

The install went smoothly. I did most of it myself with support from Sarah, who advised, assisted with some pipe pulls and gathered local materials. As I reflect on it there really weren’t any big challenges. Running hoses and wires is relatively painless in this boat.

I should have put more serious planning into the exhaust design. I talked myself into going over the fuel tank, but the outlet is a bit high and getting enough rise to keep water out is problematic. Should have run aft then down behind the tank and out a foot lower to get a bulletproof system. I have the winter to noodle on that as I work in the ER.

Apart from that I’m delighted with the system. I now have heaters in each room, each with their own thermostats. And no cold toilet seat or shower.

Heated head

I’ve averaged 6 hours a day operation on the boiler in 12 days. Fuel consumption is 1.75 l/hr. But I’ve done zero winterization and have had a warm boat. We just covered the boat today, which will really help with heat.

I hate to take pictures of a messy install. The ER will get lots of attention over the winter, so I haven’t tied anything in there yet. You can see the footprint isn’t dramatically different from the water heater it replaced.

The whole thing wasn’t cheap – about $10k – but it achieves my goals elegantly. I’ve got hot water and limited space heating available from engine waste heat when underway or plugged in, with diesel fired heat always on call.

I’m again reminded of my small fuel tanks. Full they’re about 600 l. I arrived here almost full. But that’s not going to last the winter. I’m going to pursue additional tankage. There’s lots of room under the floor.

I want to write also about my solar panel install. Will do that soon in another post.

Samantha took a few shots leaving this evening. Nice to have some festive cheer from the neighbors!

My neighborhood

We got the plastic on today and I’ll shrink it tomorrow. Forecast looks perfect, so I have confidence I won’t fail this time. Then some decorating…

Here’s a video of me drilling out the exhaust port. Measure twice, cut once! I never seem to learn.

Shrink Wrap Aborted

Today’s breeze

I was watching the weather last week and knew some violent weather was coming. So I thought I’d get the cover on. It looked like there was a weather window yesterday. I had all the materials, and Samantha and Sarah came to help.

But in our usual fashion, we didn’t get at it until mid afternoon, and by the time I was ready to apply the torch I was in trouble. There was a south breeze blowing perpendicular to the boat. No more than ten knots, but enough to make shrinking the large vertical surfaces really tricky. I tried doing the forward section and then gave up. The results were not good.

Today I figured I was in trouble. When it blew up in the afternoon I cut the cover down the ridge and let it hang down on either side from the boat. It was pretty violent. No harm done apart from a wasted 36×70 roll of shrink wrap.

Lesson learned. Start early and make sure it’s calm. It’s a big boat, with big vertical surfaces that require good weather and technique to do properly.

In other news, the new furnace is finally on its way. Just in time! I’ve been comfortable aboard, but heating is currently limited to a couple of plug in electric heaters.

I was struck again today by the igloo effect of the white cover. It’s very opaque. I couldn’t find a clear wrap in my large size, but will ask around again. I said last year that I wanted clear. I think that’s still true.