Snow? On a SAILBOAT?!?!?!? Who knew…

First snow storm
First off, yes we are surviving! Second, and more importantly, I can't wait for bikini weather. I am extremely sick of layers, socks, sweater shirts, gloves, hats, scarves (for warmth, not style :)), sweat pants, sweat pants over yoga pants, and my long, dirty, puffy coat! I think you get it, just OVER THIS WEATHER!

With that off my chest, we have been learning a lot about snow on a boat. I suppose this didn't cross my mind as reality since last year everyone told me that it didn't snow in VA, and the snow last year was a fluke. Apparently, it does snow in VA. I am on my second winter here and I can count a handful of snow days.

We are currently up to three heaters. The solid fuel heater works fantastic, as long as the wind is not too high. Otherwise, we are unable to use it because the wind just blows back down the pipe and blows out the fire, along with smoking out the boat. (Not something I enjoyed waking up to, even though I did appreciate the effort from Chuck.) We have another oil heater for the aft cabin, and a small space heater. Oh, and my large babies that have been sleeping on either side of me in the bed and keeping me toasty.

Last snow storm!

The biggest concern is getting the dogs off the boat. They think the snow is quite amazing, and makes Zia jump around like a Gummy Bear. This is fine, as long as she doesn't jump herself in the water or push her brother in. So far, so good with only one really close call! We have used bath rugs for landing spots on the boat so they can get some traction to get off. We also have spent a decent amount of time and energy clearing off the boat, our dock, and the main dock of snow. This last round was REALLY wet snow, so now we are just swimming in slush! Main concern here is just ice over night with freezing temperatures. We have been using a basic kitchen broom to sweep it off, and the marina and another captain has been providing some ice melt and sand for the docks.

With this weather, we have mostly just hunkered down. Read a few books, watched some Netflix when the internet wasn't freaking out, and laid around with pups. My favorite is laying with the pups, so there has been a lot of that, as you will see from pictures below!

Lastly, I started selling doTerra oils (be on the lookout for free samples coming in March 2015). And Chuck created our very own diffuser in the boat. Simply a mason jar full of water with essential oils, and set on top of the heater. Works like a champ! We have been exploring with different scents. Chuck's nose is more sensitive, and overall I only had one that "smelt like cough syrup"! The rest have been really nice, add some relaxing music and a cup of tea and it makes for a nice snow day!

My favorite! Obviously warm by the heater with no socks and a tank top on!

Look at his silly tongue!

Earth and Fire

We've had our composting head now a couple of months, and so far we love it! The only issue we've had, oddly enough, is learning how to go #1 properly! I'll spare you the details, but let's just say we've both had to improve our aim.

We've had to empty the solids basin twice now. The first time was a bit clunky; we didn't have the right size bag and it was the first time. The second time was a lot smoother and less messy. Both times, though, I expected it to be a nasty job with nasty smells. I was surprised both times when the only odor coming from the basin was similar to potting soil: earthy and mossy. Honestly the liquids bottle smells worse than the solids basin, but we cleaned that out too! The venting system is working great! You can only smell any odor from the unit when the wind is VERY strong from a particular direction, or when you're sitting right next to the vent filling the water tank. It isn't overbearing, more of an "oh, I smell the vent!"

We are VERY happy with our Nature's Head Composting Toilet, and would recommend it for anyone who has a need for a toilet in a basement, cabin, RV, boat, or tiny house, and doesn't want to mess with plumbing or a holding tank. Or, if you're just hippies like us and want to go more green!

The Lost Art of Burning Coal (Anthracite)

We purchased some Anthracite from Blaschak Coal for our solid fuel heater. We love the lump hardwood charcoal, but we were just burning through it too quickly. We still use the lump charcoal when starting and "re lighting" the coal, but the anthracite is our primary heat source for the solid fuel heater. It produces a wonderful heat, but since there is no shaker grate to knock the ash off, we have to re-light it about every 6 hours. This is still less attention than had been required for the lump charcoal, which required adding fuel every hour or so. Anthracite burns incredibly cleanly, producing no visible smoke from the stack on deck. There is only a smell as it's lighting up, so it keeps our neighbors happy, too. Since I work from the boat, and the last few weeks have been pretty chilly here in Hampton, I keep it running nearly all day. The next two weeks are not looking much better, with lows in the teens. We replaced our electric space heater with a baseboard-style convective heater with no moving parts, so hopefully it will last longer than our last heater, which had a fan and 3 heating elements. It's still a bit chilly in the morning, when the Dickinson has been out for a few hours as we sleep, but it's certainly not unbearable.

We know when it's gotten cold in the main cabin, though, because the stooges migrate into our bed. Enzo is the ninja of the two, we usually don't feel him get up in bed at all. We just wake up with him laying on our feet or legs. Zia, on the other hand, is not as graceful. With her short stature and bum leg, she either launches herself blindly onto the bed, or just warbles at us until we lift her on. Once on the bed she attempts to lay directly on top of whomever she landed on, and works hard to stay there. By morning, I'm smashed against the aft bulkhead, usually with my lower back and rear end sticking out from the covers (brr!). Enzo is quite comfortable in a princely position at the foot of the bed, and Zia is taking up more mattress space than the Admiral and I combined. We'll put up with this until the cold snap passes, but we'll be reclaiming our bed then! 

The busiest weekend!

With the dreary cold weather and "east coast gray" we have been experiencing in Virginia, we took advantage of one great weekend. Between being out of the slip for a change, and a mini-spring cleaning session on the boat, it was a weekend for record books!

Our first project before we could go sailing was changing out the furling line. The one that was on when we bought her was too big, and also to short. Furling was an issue, and the genoa was unable to be out all the way. With a great deal on rope at West Marine, this was an easy fix. Normally everything takes longer than expected, but somehow this did not. Simple to uninstall the old and just as simple to install the new rope. As always, Zia provided the Captain with some supervision :)

While it was forecast to be 50 degrees and light winds, about 10 mph, we invited our friends Captain Dave and Susan out for a day on the water. If nothing else, we could enjoy the Chesapeake Bay. Unfortunately the wind died when we actually got on the water, but it was still an absolutely GORGEOUS Day! We were all happy to just be out of the slip, enjoyed some fantastic cheeses, crackers, fruit, and beers that Susan and Dave supplied us with.

Since the wind was so light and we had extra hands on deck, we decided to play with a new sail. We thought it was a spinnaker, but quickly realized that was incorrect. We then decided it was an asymmetrical, and we ended up sailing it from the main hailyard and just holding the sheets. Captain Dave wanted to experiment with the spinnaker pole, so we rigged something up to try. With the small mount of wind we had, we had great success! The sail was beautiful, and we were happy to just fly it. 

After some more research, it turns out the sail was a mizzen staysail. We have learned how to properly use this, and we look forward to that for the next trip out. Until then, we learned a lot about tenalach that day. The best news is that there was nothing to report! No engine issues, no sail issues, no dog issues, no docking, etc etc. IT WAS A WIN!!!! And we couldn't be happier or more proud. Days like this make us really appreciate the leap that we took, and give us more faith in our journey. We might not always know what we are doing (as if anyone does), but we can enjoy the water on a great day, and get home safely!

Above was the fun part of the weekend, below is where the work comes in!

Since we got a fun day, we decided to take the next day to get some work done on the boat. We have been somewhat limited with this due to cold weather and rain. It has been raining on our days off, which is not helping us accomplish boat projects. Instead we find ourselves dealing with leaks, BIG thumbs down on that!

So here we go...

1. I found some mold below the mattress and below the hypervent in the aft cabin. We needed to not only change sheets, but basically tear the entire cabin apart to get to all the mold, clean it, and dry it out. I used vinegar and water to scrub. I also have another product coming that is supposed to prevent mold from growing as well. Women Who Sail recommended this, and I trust them! Because of the hypervent, mattresses, too many pillows for Captain Chuck, and the v-berth cushions in the aft cabin, when I work in there the whole boat is then occupied :) Not pictured is the v-berth cushions that were airing out on deck, and the blankets that were in a pile somewhere else on the boat. 

Pillows on the port settee

Mattresses in the v-berth

Hypervent in the hallway
Finished project! And as close to a made bed as we get
2. I bought frozen strawberries to keep in our small freezer, first time since moving aboard. We seemed to have no issues, until I went to pull a beer out and it had frozen red water on the top. Upon more inspection, apparently the frozen strawberries melted just enough to leak everywhere and then freeze again! Delightful! The below picture shows the galley taken over so I can stick the top half of my body in the fridge to clean!

3. Captain needed to work in the engine room. When we changed our water filters, we didn't bleed the line completely. However we didn't realize this until we were running off of our tanks versus the hose. Obviously Enzo needed to supervise this time!

4. Lastly, heater! We obviously installed the new heater, but keeping it producing heat is another story. We have been using lump hardwood wood charcoal from Ace Hardware which works great, but we burn through it so fast! Five pounds/day.  Since Chuck works from home, it is literally burning all day. When it is burning, Zia likes it as a face warmer and is intrigued by the popping and cracking of the fire. 

The electric heater we were using is mostly just a fan now. Apparently we burned it out on the cold nights before our new heater.

We are now working with Anthracite, which is a great heat producer. But we are having quite the time keeping this lit. While there are frustrations with it, it is also nice to figure something out versus just turning a switch on. Until then, wool socks are my best friend (even while I sleep). And if you've paid attention, I dislike wearing socks all the time!

Here is to warmer weather, and being slightly jealous of those in warmer temperatures! It will be our turn before long, and I like to think we will appreciate it that much more after experiencing waking up to 47 degrees in the boat. BRRR!
~ Me and my pups!