Monday, February 25, 2013

Winter on the Outer Banks

What can you say. Winter on the Outer Banks gets dreary. Days are short, nights are long. Doesn't snow (that's OK). But 36 degrees feels miserable when it is damp, misty and blowing 20-35. We burned almost a full cord of firewood already. Even the fish left.

The big dunes on the Outer Banks (like Jockey's Ridge where they teach hang-gliding) were formed by the constant cycle of NorthEast winds all winter followed by SouthWest winds all summer blowing the sand back and forth.

Back in January, when it was forecast to drop to 25 degrees overnight a couple of times, I got paranoid and decided that I needed to winterize at least a couple of SeaClearly's systems that were exposed to cold - the generator in the lazarette, the water tanks and lines (cockpit shower, for example), head. As with each new experience, we go into it dumb and come out understanding just how dumb we were. No issues though.

Radar self-test
I did not winterize the reverse-cycle heat. We wanted to be able to spend time on the boat playing with radios, radar and other systems through those long cold nights.

We have spent several nights on-board just sitting at the dock. Hey, sleeping on the boat is sleeping on the boat. One of the big challenges involved in that is getting Roux into the cabin. I wish I had pictures of that! Let's just say that it requires ramps, rugs, harnesses and coaxing. He gets more comfortable each time. And he looks pretty damn happy in that aft berth once he's there.

I did not winterize the engine. I rationalized it several ways - it is really protected, low in the boat, inside the engine compartment where I could keep her warm. And, I remember the other side of OBX winters. Occasionally, you get a gem. The temperature climbs into the 60's. The sun comes out and the world spins in greased grooves.

And so, in the middle of February, we go sailing! It was wonderful. Not much wind but we could put out the big Code Zero light-air sail. On deck in light jackets. Roux actually fell asleep in his life jacket. A brief respite from the gloom.

Now, we are back to chilly and damp. But, you can feel winter backing off. The days are getting longer. The Ospreys should be returning shortly. We even saw a Bald Eagle yesterday driving back from Manteo with our neighbors.

Junie used the winter evenings to design our new boat cards. For those of you unfamiliar with these, they are business cards for people whose primary business is sailing around doing nothing. And we are starting our final descent towards landing in Cruiserville!