Well, its been a helluva first week for the new year. Record low temps across two thirds of the USA. It was so cold in the Florida Keys that those damn iguana’s were falling out of the trees dead like. They got 7″ of snow in Atlanta. A monster nor’easter off the Atlantic coast from the Virginia capes all the way to Nova Scotia. Constant north north west winds for over a week exceeding 20 knots. Temps in Northern Virginia have been as low as two degrees this morning with a high all week of only twenty. Every morning it was ten degrees or less at my house in Lucketts for over a week. I’m talking a very cold week!
I actually like the cold. It feels good to me. Fresh. Clean. Cold! But the big question right now is how much does my boat like the cold? The week before Christmas had exactly the opposite weather for this time of year. We hit 60 degrees three or four days before the 25th of December and the rest of the week was relatively mild. I hadn’t yet winterized my boat because I do like to sail in the winter on some of the nicer days. Plus the water was still in the low 40’s which means even though the surrounding air might be colder the water acts as a sort of insulator to the boat systems. Basically, since the systems all lie in the bottom of the hull the water temps which are warmer than the air will keep things from freezing. I don’t know if I really explained that too well but if you own a boat or an RV you know what I’m talking about.
So what’s the big deal?
A few days before Christmas I decided to winterize the water system, the head, and the washdown pump used for the windlass but I wasn’t able to winterize the engine. That’s the $15,000 engine that’s not covered by insurance if the damage is due to freezing. And why didn’t I winterize the engine? Because the engine wouldn’t start. Of all times to have a crapped out engine this was a very bad time. Since I couldn’t start the engine I couldn’t winterize it. So I had to find the problem and attempt a fix. With the help of my dockmate Mike we were able to diagnose a broken starter. Great, now all I need to do is remove the old starter, order a new one, and get it installed. Then I can winterize the engine to protect it from the cold and a potentially disastrous event like a frozen block.
But there’s a problem. After I do some quick research I find out the starter will take 8-9 days to arrive. Most of the delay is due to the upcoming weekend plus Christmas holiday. So I cross my fingers and order the new starter hoping the milder weather will last but before it arrives the deep freeze begins. By the time I get it delivered to my house it’s already been very cold for several days and the creek where the boat is slipped has frozen over. Oh Shit!! If the water in the creek has frozen does that mean the insulating effect of the warmer water is non-existent at this point? The one thing I did do before leaving the boat was to rig a socket with a 60 watt light bulb in the engine compartment to try to keep it warm in there. Please! Please! Please! Let my little light bulb keep that space just warm enough to avoid a $15,000 mistake. Please!
I’ll be heading to the boat this week with my new starter and my fingers crossed.