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November 2009
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December 2009

How We Get Water in the Winter

When we made the decision to move aboard, while EW immediately began the process of selling the house and finding a slip -- he also spent the next three weeks telling me all about the hard stuff we would encounter. Some of it I had thought of -- others, I am ashamed to say, never entered my mind. One of those was water. 

In the summer, the boat yard has a large plastic pipe under the dock decking that goes to the individual posts by each boat. We can each hang our hose on the post and add water to the tanks whenever we want. In the winter in Maine the water to the docks would freeze and is turned off. I knew that -- but hadn't processed what it would mean for us. 

The live-aboards keep and maintain garden hoses underwater that go from the end of the ramp to 2/3 way out the dock. In the past we have maintained them farther out the dock but have found this to be adequate - plus we are lazy and cheap.

In a perfect world 3 or 4 of us will need water on a sunny Saturday and undertake the task as a group. On La Luna this year, we are off kilter with the rest of the dock and have been going it alone so far. EW is out of town and I knew we were going to need water soon. Looking at the weather yesterday, I also knew that the window of opportunity was Monday morning. It poured on Sunday, Monday was nice, with snow in the afternoon followed by the big chill, high winds and more snow later in the week. So yesterday I got water and documented the steps, just in case you are thinking about living aboard in a cold climate. 

1. We have a long red hose that we keep on deck for this purpose. We all make sure to get the water out of it after use and it has only rarely frozen. Usually the sun through the plastic will keep it usable. Here is the hose on the aft deck of La Luna. The white hose belongs to someone on the end of the dock who needs extra length for this process. Evidently we are storing all of it this year. Whatever.

2. While the hose wasn't frozen yesterday. It was cold. View from the dock- Cold chilled hose Getting water while the weather is nice 12-28-09 

I like this shot. Looks like an agility course for Pablo.

3. I hauled up the hose at the boat end of our underwater line (greenish hose on the right of the top left photo). Thankfully I was not the first person of the year to do so. That person must scrape off bladders and mussels and other slimy underwater growth. I have special 'winter hose gloves' but still hate the slime. The bottom left photo of this collage shows how the hose is tied to the dock for easy retrieval.

Setting up the Hose

Line holding hose on the land end Next I headed to shore where the hose is tied to a small line attached to the railing of the sea wall. 

I raised the hose, and attached it to a hose that is supplied by the boat yard. They also installed an all weather outdoor faucet that works great as long as we remember to remove the hose from the faucet every time. If the faucet freezes we are out of luck. If the hose freezes we haul it into 'headquarters' and stick it in under a hot shower. 

I had left the dock hose hanging over the edge of the dock - this is REALLY important as on cold days you can create a skating rink by running water onto the dock. I hate it when that happens. We let the water run through the hose for about 10 minutes, cleaning out most of the ocean life and dirt. Some of us have filters that are used as we put water into our tanks. We put a bit of bleach in the tanks and have not used the water for drinking or cooking. This winter we will install a hefty water filter from the tanks to the galley sink (stay tuned) and will then drink from the tanks. 

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Now, here is the most important part: make sure that the hose goes into the correct tank. There are many horror stories about people putting diesel into the water tanks or water into the diesel tanks. Not on my watch. I am so paranoid (and so prone to rushing mistakes) that I read the tank label out loud and trace the letters with my finger EVERY TIME -- Even tho the diesel fills are different and with large shiny letters in the center of the screw top. 

That's it. We fill the tanks normally -- and truthfully that takes longer than setting up the hose. I think writing about it and getting the photos up took as long or longer than setting up the hose. So it seems laborious - but it is just part of life aboard. We don't shower on board in the winter, and fill about every three weeks when the weather is nice -- or niceish. 

Boatyards and Boaters and Electric Bills

You may remember a post/rant I wrote on November 19 about our electric bill. Though we had only been at the marina for two weeks in October, we received an electric bill that was 4 times the normal winter monthly rate. 

So just last week the boatyard resolved the problem. Though they "didn't find anything wrong with it" yeah right) they did change the meter on our pole and moved our cord back to where it belongs. Of course they did this without telling us and moved the cord when I was on board and in the middle of an interview which was disconnected when they unplugged the boat.

They also prorated the October bill to an average of a normal 2 week period for us. The bill went from over $160.00 to $20.00. I can handle that. 

Fueling the Furnace on the Sailboat - Winter Live-Aboards

I know I still "owe" you a more in depth discussion of our heating system. This is another small post about the fuel. The wonderful ITR Hurricane Heating System uses diesel and picks it up from our tanks. In addition to running the furnace, in the summer we can switch a couple of valves and use the furnace to heat water. This is a much greater use of energy instead of running the engine for an hour to keep the batteries up so we can heat the tank, we just run the furnace for 15 minutes. Much more efficient.

EW installed the pick-up higher in the tank than the pick-up for the engine - so in the summer we have an early warning system. If the furnace doesn't fire up to heat water, we are down to 5 gallons of fuel or so. 

In the winter we have to get fuel to the boat as we can't take the boat to the fuel. There is no moving when the cover is on! We have two 5 gallon fuel jugs, two cheapo liquid pump thingamajigs, one funnel with screen and the Bucket of Doom. That's just a big old bucket that we store the pumps and funnel in -- keeping the diesel mess off the boat and out of the water. 

Note about us: Like many families we have developed our own language. The pastry brush has been the "butter broom" since our 10 year old son asked in which drawer it belonged -- 20+ years ago. The Bucket of Doom has been in our vocabulary since we moved aboard. Last year, our newbie live aboard friends had heard us talking about fueling and called later with the now famous question: "What is a Bucket of Doom, do we need one and where do we find it? I couldn't find one at the marine store!" 

Back to fueling. So, in normal winter conditions twice a week someone (yeah, yeah 99% of the time, EW) fills the jugs and carts them down to the boat. He sets up the funnel and the pumps and has breakfast, then returns to hand pump and then pour the last of the fuel into the funnel. That's it. We figure our heating carbon footprint is less than half it was in our 1200 square foot, fully-insulated-with-new windows home.

More on the furnace later this week.

View from the deck: EW put fuel on today. 10 gallons, twice a week 12-14-09
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