If you’re from New England, no doubt the word “bubbler” will make you think of the filtered water cooler in the office. Unless you live on a boat. Marinas in colder climates run bubblers all winter to keep ice away from the boats. A bubbler is a plastic cylinder with a fan that is submerged in water and spins and pushes the water around the boat. The surface of the water appears to bubble, hence the name. They keep the ice away, sometimes. But when the temperature is consistently below freezing, mother nature shows us, once again, that she will always win.

Large sheets of ice are flowing down the Delaware River from northern Pennsylvania and upstate New York, and they all crowd the entrance of the marina, pushing to get a spot in our calm waters.  High tide, 4:36AM. Knock, knock, knock on the hull. We’re surrounded by ice sheets. I’m beginning to think it would be better to be completely iced-in. Hungry and wide-awake, I went outside and turned on our bubbler. I ventured onto the foredeck with the boat hook and tried to push the ice away but ended up just swearing at it. (something along the lines of “don’t you know I’m 7 months pregnant and need my sleep?  A little common courtesy please ice.” I probably didn’t say please.) I gave up, came inside, ate a bowl of granola, and crawled back into bed. At least the bubbler provided some white noise to mask the sound of the  ice knocking on the hull.

I asked Hans if next winter–when our 3rd crew member will be sleeping up in the vee-berth (site of the majority of the ice knocking)–will the baby get woken up by the ice? He said: “Maybe. And then we’ll be dealing with knocking ice and a screaming baby.” I crawled further into the down cocoon and told myself that maybe the ice isn’t so bad after all.



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