The boatyard in winter
I encourage you to visit your boat and enjoy the beautiful experience of a boatyard in winter. My boat, The Melodic, stays in the water all winter on the Branford River, and I spend many hours onboard to assure it (and myself) that warmer sailing days are ahead.
However, the ice and cold can be particularly dangerous near the water, so here are a few things to remember:
- Watch out for slick conditions. Negotiating an icy ladder to get aboard a boat on the stands can be tricky. If you’re not sure it’s safe, spend your time examining your boat’s bottom and below-water gear instead.
- Be prepared in case of emergency. You’ll most likely be the only one in the boatyard in winter. If something goes wrong, yelling for help won’t cut it. So make sure you have your cellphone with you, and let someone know where you are and when you expect to return.
- Take cold weather precautions. If you venture out onto the docks, you must wear a life jacket. Falling into the drink is never fun, but in winter, hypothermia can make it fatal. There’s a small cove on the East River that, given a peculiar combination of eddies and currents, always traps the winter flotsam from western Long Island Sound and the Harlem, Hudson and East rivers. Every year authorities recover more than a few bodies, boaters who slipped off their docks or fell off boats into the frigid waters.
- Exercise caution when using a heater onboard. Taking an afternoon snooze aboard a floating boat in winter is one of life’s great joys, but using a space heater onboard can be dangerous. If you have a radiant heater that works like a toaster with bright orange filament strips, or if your heater stays on when tipped over, donate these lethal heaters to the nearest dump. Instead, buy a small, inexpensive ceramic or oil-filled radiator to use onboard. Since fire is always a possibility, keep your fire extinguisher at hand. Find out if your marina bans heaters of any kind. Your insurance won’t cover any damage if that’s the case.
This article was originally published in Running Lights, newsletter of Bayside Power Squadron/3.
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