I’m living on a sailboat for a few good reasons:

  1. It’s cheaper (a LOT cheaper), so I don’t have to bite my nails every month to make rent.
  2. It has an undeniable coolness factor of ten, as I get to say “I’m a novelist and graphic designer who lives on a sailboat.” Hard to top that one.
  3. I can own my home outright before I die without having to make large payments every month.
  4. It’s mobile, so I don’t have an address. 

But number four is one I haven’t totally experienced yet, and that’s because I had no idea what my sailing progress would be like a few months ago, when I first purchased my boat. The original plan was to learn to sail single-handedly in my little bay, and gradually branch out as the months ticked by, then travel next summer, when I was more comfortable with my skills. Reality was a bit different. I single-handed Libby twice in my bay then got bored. She’s a fast ship, so it didn’t take long for me to do circles around and around, and the mouth of the bay looked more and more appealing as I wondered “What’s out there!” Soon I was out of the bay and into larger bodies of water, and even crossed Puget Sound and made it to Seattle, my buddy boat Judy II with me. Though the Seattle cruise was exhausting (we didn’t make port, just sailed to Seattle and sailed back home, all in one day), it was a blast.

seattle sailing

We sailed to Seattle in the first week of September, when the Pacific Northwest weather was a little more than perfect. It’s late October now, which means lots of southernly weather (icky), cold, wind, rain, and short days. Yet the weather has not deterred my desire to get out there and go sailing somewhere, stay the night or a few days, then sail back home to my warm dock.

My biggest concern is warmth and keeping dry. Libby is not equipped with a bulkhead heater, and my body is not equipped to handle cold outside temperatures. A new heater would run me around $600.00, and I don’t have that kind of money to drop just right now, nor do I have the funds to go get me some posh winter sailing attire to keep my body from shivering.

What I do have is a kerosene stove, and a blog with readers from everywhere who may have some cheap solutions to my problems. I’ve heard that putting a terra-cotta pot over the kerosene stove burner is a good way to heat the cabin, which would be important for staying comfortable while indoors. Do you have experience with doing such a thing, or is it a totally bogus idea? Do you have an even better idea? Please opine in the comment section!

As for clothes, I need some waterproof slickers. I can layer to my skin’s content, but need something on the surface to keep me dry. Up until now, my surest way to stay dry has been to remain indoors, sipping coffee as I watch the rain pour. That just won’t work if I want to sail in winter! I do not have a dodger (sigh) or a cockpit canopy, so I’ll need to totally enclose myself with waterproof gear. What’s the best stuff out there? Is there a nifty online retailer where I can score some good stuff? Again, please, please, please leave suggestions in the comment section! WordPress doesn’t like comments with lots of links, so your message may be sent into the spam queue, but I’ll check for posts and rescue the good ones.

Ideally I’ll be sailing around as early as next week, before the nasty cold weather really hits. In that time, I can learn some basic sailing safety measures (like how to reef my main sail), and hopefully figure out what’s going wrong with my autopilot (Jonathan can help me with this one [*waves to Jonathan*]) so I can raise the main in one go, rather than run to and from to keep my boat headed up into the wind… And in that time you can also give as much or as little advice as you’d like. Send this post to your sailing friends, and see if they’d like to give some suggestions.

Thanks all!


Just scored some awesome slickers for a great deal! And they’re stylish (it’s all about staying stylish)!

1 Comment

  1. bljones October 23, 2011 at 9:26 am

    Aboard Whiskeyjack, we use a simple propane Coleman catalytic heater to warm the cabin, and 12 v fans to circulate the heat. It works quite well on a small boat like ours, and with the v-berth hatch cracked slightly, the companionway hatch cracked slightly, and a fan at the cabin sole and a fan at the v-berth door it keeps air flowing to keep heat moving and prevent deadly CO build up. Because the heater is portable, you can move it around with you. About $65. We have used ours for four seasons, and experience has shown that a 1 lb propane canister will last for 6-8 hours of heat.