Getting Ready For Winter

I refuse to be cold THIS winter. Since I repatriated from Panama I’ve been living on a small, anchored sailboat. No access to an electric hookup. Now, our winters don’t get THAT cold here in Florida though I once watched snow falling while on a sailboat off of Key Largo years ago, but when you can see your breath INSIDE the boat then, damn it, it’s COLD!

The best way to stay warm is to wear layered clothing to trap and preserve your natural body heat. Works well for the Inuit. And I’ve done that for the last three winters. I have a half dozen sets of thermal underwear. I’ve got nearly as many sweat shirts and a ton of heavy-duty socks. I even have a comfortable stocking cap that my friend Brandy Randall sent me from her Enterprise Bar in Rico, Colorado. But you can’t surf the net if you’re wearing gloves and certainly not mittens!

There were quite a few days in the past several winters that I spent wrapped in a blanket like a shawl, or snuggled down in my cold-weather sleeping bag in the middle of the afternoon. Not fun! I do have one of those Little Buddy propane heaters. They gobble up those green 1-pound bottles like I do a bag full of M&Ms. And they only warm the boat for as long as they’re on and a bottle lasts about 5 hours. When you turn it off it gets cold rapidly. There’s very little insulation value in a quarter inch of solid fiberglass. I used to turn the thing on for a few minutes until I could feel my finger tips again and then shut it down.

I moved to The Swamp here off the Saint Johns River in Central Florida last year just before the winter set in. While I have access to a nearby 110-volt source I didn’t take advantage of it. Then. 

I’ve depended on solar power from 310-watts of Renogy panels and it has done me well. Not so great once I got my Alpicool refrigerator/freezer. It’s dual 110/12 volt. It drains the batteries pretty fast, though. So I bought a long, outdoor extension cord to run it. 

With the passage of the first cold front of the season, mild as it was, I decided that I wasn’t going to go through another winter like the last few. Years ago when I was living on the Nancy Dawson, my Kaiser 26, in Fort Lauderdale I had a small ceramic heater. It worked well even though the extension cord that brought power to the boat really wasn’t good. Dangerous, in fact.

Well, I’m not going to chance it this time. I bought a heavy-duty, 10-gauge extension cord. It’s rated for 1,850 watts. The small Lasko ceramic I bought is rated at 1,500 watts maxed out so there’s a bit of a load buffer.

Of course, since I got the stuff we’re on a warming trend with an afternoon high just short of 80ºF. But Sunday the prognosticators are prognosticating a low in the mid 40F range and a high not even reaching 70F. So maybe I got it together just in time…

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One response to “Getting Ready For Winter

  1. After our great February freeze last year — the one that took down the entire state’s power grid — a lot of people are considering how to keep warm this winter. I must say, given a choice between a hot summer and a cold winter, I’ll take hot every time. You’re sure right about fiberglass being a poor insulator ~ I think that new extension cord was a fine idea.