read all about it at my new blog devoted to, you guessed it, raising a baby on a boat:
Category Archives: living aboard
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.
We did a thorough job of winterizing m/v Stinkpot last week before we left for Vermont: antifreeze in the engines, the reverse cycle heat & a/c system, the toilets, and the fresh water lines. We felt confident that we would return to the boat and find it in the same condition as we left.
Two minor problems: a hatch blew open and the temperatures reached below freezing inside.
In March 2008 we sailed into Antigua with all of our clothes, towels, and linens dirty, salty, and sweaty. Friends were arriving in two days. We searched for a laundromat only to discover they didn’t exist. Laundry service cost over $20/load. (I can’t make this up.) So, we did what any resourceful–and budget-minded–cruiser would do: we washed our own laundry by hand and hung everything to dry. You can read about it here.
Now that m/v stinkpot’s bridge and back decks are completely enclosed and protected from wind and rain, they serve as the ultimate drying room for wet laundry. I hate clothes dryers. They are a complete waste of energy and one of the most environmentally unsound appliances you can use (okay, I have no facts to base this statement on, just a hunch). Not only are they bad for the environment, but they are rough on clothes too. I prefer air-drying. Thus, we’re back on the gypsy boat!
The Delaware River originates from two branches that start in the Catskills and converge near Hancock, NY. By the time it reaches Trenton, NJ, it starts mixing with tides from the Atlantic Ocean and becomes a tidal river. Philadelphia, located south of Trenton and about 87 nautical miles from the Atlantic Ocean, has a mean tide of about 6 feet. What does this all mean? How does this impact my life afloat on the Delaware River?
A strong storm blew through Philadelphia last night and we were woken up at various points in the night by knocking on the hull. Were we hitting the dock? Nope. It was logs. Sometimes we get stumps and other times we get logs. I walked up to put laundry on this morning and saw an entire tree floating on the other side of the dock. In the winter we get ice floes (shudder). And on a daily basis we get trash: plastic bottles, old shoes, condoms (yuck), plastic bags–you name it. It’s amazing how many different odds and ends float down (and up) the river and work their way into the marina.