Thursday, February 28, 2013

Spring Fever/Planning

Despite having had the 3rd snowiest winter on record and what feels like the windiest EVER, our heads are drifting off towards spring. Perhaps it's just a form of escapism (delusion?) or perhaps it's because we're on the other side of winter. As Tim says, "it's not like it's November & we're staring down the barrel of a gun with winter approaching." 

This was our neighborhood during "Nemo"
But, what a winter it's been! Having never been a fan of winter since living down south for 5 of them, I'm 'sensitive' (Tim would say I'm miserable). But, I have to say I'm proud of myself for not leaving Tim, packing my things & bailing to a trailer in Miami! It's crossed my mind every now and then, especially when I'm walking up to the showers at the marina club house at 7am in sleety, snowy, awfulness. But it seems I can ALWAYS find something gorgeous about my surroundings, whether it's how the sun is coming up over the Navy Yard or a loon off our stern or a fresh, salty breeze filling my lungs. 
Toby, a native of Maine absolutely LOVE the snow

As we've written about before we live & breathe the elements in our lifestyle and you just have to persevere through them. I recently read that life aboard in New England year-round is like a Tale of Two Cities: "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." Thing is, we only got a small taste of what it's like in the best of times since we moved aboard in September. So when we're persevering though 30 mph winds and 6" of snow we aren't really able to think, "well, remember July? This is worth it to get to July." So needless to say here we are at the end of February and we're starting to daydream about life outside 'The Bubble'. 

This past weekend we attended the Boston Boat Show. It's perfectly timed for all boaters who are starting to dream about summer, who are sick to sh*t of winter and for us young boaters it also coincides with our tax refunds! Perfect! We wandered around, attended some seminars, chatted with some riggers, sailors and 'boat people'. We scoped out some new toys and tried to avert our eyes to the sleek, new, million + dollar Beneteau sailboats that we can only dream of affording. The booth that caught my eye was the EZ Hang Chair booth - imagine flocks of people lounging in hanging hammock and canvas chairs, complete with leg rests & cup holders. The photos of the chair mounted on the deck of a sailboat was all I needed to sell me. 

The sales guy knew he had a ripe one when I asked - "does the cup holder fit a large sized Tervis cup of Rum & Coke?" Signed, Sealed, Delivered - we left the Show with a new boat hook and a promise of awesome Summer afternoons. 

The other big Spring Fever project currently underway - a new stereo system for the boat. A stereo is something we'd wanted since the day we moved aboard but there were other more important (think: utilitarian)  things we needed to install to make life aboard livable (i.e. water filter for drinking water). But when my brother Pete gave us a very generous gift card to Amazon we thought - let's splurge and get a sick stereo system complete with cockpit and main cabin speakers - I mean who are Jill & Tim without our music??? We got the top of the line in marine stereos a Fusion MS-RA200. This baby can link up to our VHF radio, it connects to NOAA Weather forecasts, it's got dual zones so we can rock out in the cockpit when someone else (Toby?) is sleeping below deck. Tim is like a kid in a candy store with a new electronic gadget to not just play with but also install (i.e. run wires around the boat, tie into electric panel, cut holes in the boat for the speakers, etc.). Tim plans on posting a blog post about how the install goes...good thing I'm away this weekend so it can be man-town electronic install time. 

So though we have A LOT more to do to get ready for sailing season, A LOT more. These couple things are helping us get over this last hump of the doldrums of winter. Thinking about hanging above the foredeck, cocktail in hand, stereo cranked, the sweet sounds of music floating around us might just get us through the inevitable next snowfall and wind storm. 

"One good thing about music, when it hits you feel no pain 
So hit me with music, hit me with music
Hit me with music, hit me with music now" 
- Bob Marley "Trenchtown Rock" 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Life Under the Bubble

Random Guy at the Bar: So you live aboard in the winter? in Maine?
Jill/Tim: Yup. Full Time. We're under the shrinkwrap.
Guy: Are you crazy?
J/T: Yup!

Life under the "bubble", as we lovingly refer to our shrink wrapped boat, is going well, we're 2+ months in. When we first started researching life aboard in New England in winter we read a lot about shrinkwrapping. The white vs. the clear, the pros and cons, the cost. It seemed most liveaboards use the clear shrinkwrap because it allows for more light, sun (i.e. warmth) and you don't feel quite so claustrophobic. The funny thing is it's not totally clear so you can't really see out. You can tell when it's gray or sunny but you can't see a boat going by or when your boat neighbor calls to you, you can't tell who it is. It's a rather an amusing and bizarre experience - life in a foggy bubble world. 

The marina we're at typically only installs white shrinkwrap but this year all of us who were spending the winter there requested clear. The marina guy said he "doesn't guarantee clear" but he'd do it to make his customers happy. So clear it was. Right after Thanksgiving the guy came to build the wooden frame.

After the frame was up we went to Habitat for Humanity to buy us a front door. Tim built a threshold over the toe rail of the boat and framed out the door. 
Inside our front door.
Then came the team with the shrinkwrap...
The roll of shrinkwrap wrapping up Zephyr. 

Once they wrap her they use a propane heater blow torch to warm up the plastic so it'll shrink around the boat

Balancing on the seat of a little boat to work on her port side- risky business! 

For Christmas we even had a wreath on our front door. 

Christmas Card 2012 featuring our bubble door 
Another Christmas Card Outtake, not a bad backyard! 

 This winter has been particularly windy, exceptionally so, life under the bubble helps us keep out of the wind. It's nice when you come in our front door on a windy night and all of a sudden it's quiet and calm. The Bubble also helps with condensation issues and on sunny Saturdays it's about 80 degrees under there. 

Not a bad vantage point for reading a book on a sunny day
Just last week we suffered a bubble blow out, on a wicked windy day - not to be compared with a flip-flop blowout. One of the seams burst and then the wind got up under the bubble and caused it to rip open. 
We shouldn't see the sky through the bubble, that's a blow out
The Bubble blow out around the where the boom meets the mast
Tim's temporary fix - DUCT TAPE! How's the saying go - "if you can't duct it -- "
 This Friday we're expecting A LOT of snow, some forecasts are calling for well over a foot, hooray (said very sarcastically). And though we do trust duct tape's strength we know it probably won't hold up to a foot+ of snow. So, lucky for us the marina guy is coming over this afternoon to properly patch our bubble blowout using the proper materials and tools and HOPEFULLY she'll hold until we happily hatch from our bubble in late March. 
Our Marina Swans who visit daily love swimming amongst the "bubble people"

Life inside a bubble can make anyone long for the outside world :)