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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My family thinks I am a bit crazy but so long as water is liquid I think it is a potential sailing day? I mean some of them live in CO and think nothing of spending the whole day outside skiing in very cold conditions. I say layer up and you will be fine. I might sail a bit more conservatively so as not to stress the boat but temp simply is not much of a factor for me. Now rain accompanying... That would be a different story. Whatchathink?
 

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Yeah, you can do it if you have the clothes. But, also realize depending on your location if you fall in the water between now and early spring your chances of dying have increased quite a bit. It is a risk/reward that only you can judge. Personally, I've gotten into the habit of heading someplace warm in midwinter to satisfy my sailing jones. Might be some place in the Caribbean or someplace a further away: THE BIANKA LOG BLOG: CAPT. MIKE IN THE MALDIVES: DAY 1
Wherever I go at least hypothermia won't be on the top of the list of things to worry about.:)
 

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I am like you, I typically sail all winter assuming the creeks aren't frozen. The obvious advice is to dress for the cold, especially feet, hands and face. Be aware that the air is much denser so that what have felt like a small gust in summer will knock you down in winter. At least around here the gusts tend to be more vertical so you can't always feather into them. I typically rig one side smaller jib in winter than I would in summer.

I always wear either a float coat or an inflatable harness once the water starts to cool, and will rig a teather and clip in once the air or water gets below 50 or so. I generally won't go out if it's below 40 because the air temperature can drop quickly around here and then even small amounts of spray will form ice on the deck making it dangerous to move around the boat. I also carry a change of clothes and lots of blankets on board in case I get wet.

But despite needing more care, it's nice out there in winter. Almost no traffic, lots of migratory waterfowl, often crystal clear skies, and often flatter water for the amount of breeze.
So be careful but enjoy,
Jeff
 

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I'm always surprised how many people pack it in for the winter, particularly in the mid-Atlantic states... I'm fortunate in that I keep my boat in front of my house, so I can keep a close eye on her when the weather turns severe. But I never completely de-commission her for the winter, I want to be ready to sail if the opportunity presents itself... Which it often does, even in the harshest time of the winter...

Just back from a delivery to Florida, I left Annapolis just before Christmas... That's one of my favorite times of the year to make the trip, it's great to have the waterway and the coast to yourself... And while I only had one day of really great sailing on this one, from Morehead over to Wrightsville, the sailing can often be great heading south in the winter. If it hadn't been a delivery, and I'd been on my own boat, I would have wound up doing a lot more sailing, and a lot of it very pleasant...

A couple of years ago, I spent New Year's Day in Lewes, DE on my way south. Had the harbor all to myself, fantastic...



Hell, one of the best cruises I've ever taken, was a trip up to Maine during the winter years ago... Sailing New England in the winter is a very special experience, indeed...

:)

 

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Over Hill Sailing Club
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+1 on the danger of ice. A coat of ice on the deck can make it treacherous. As crampons are probably out on a nice fg deck:), a bucket of sand can be a lifesaver and can be washed off later. Many a commercial boat has been in trouble with ice build-up on the rigging. I imagine chipping ice from a bosun's chair on a sailboat can't be much fun.
 

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Now in the Caribbean so definitely down here its a winter but not so much a summer sport.
However in past would commonly sail in the winter in New England. Now especially with climate change and 60 degree christmas' no reason to not sail. When I had small boats and self insured left the boat in the water some years. Had the boat in a Harbor of Refuge so it was ice free. Used potassium chloride on the decks so ice not an issue. Problem was before going out if it rained could get frozen on decks making tophamper so heavy as to make boat unstable. You need to go out weekly to check the boat even if you don't sail. Also need to check through hulls. Would run RV antifreeze through them and run engine. Set up a T on engine intake so could "winterize" system somewhat after each use. Have stiff bristle shop broom for snow. Leave a galleon of undiluted antifreeze in bilge
They have closed cell foam hooded jacket/pants that Storm makes for divers to put on after they get out of the water which work well. That plus DuBarry boots with heated hunting socks and you are all set. Use a Norwegian closed cell harness with pockets when its cold. Put hand warmers in pockets. Pockets get wet so stuff bottom with paper towels. Leave those hanging RV water absorbers on boat or you get very bad mildew very fast.
Jon's right the sailing is different. Would go out reefed and with lots of twist. Often with just the jib as the slides for the main would ice up and handling it was a PIA ( ice falling out, slipping on house etc.) Pull roller furling jib in and out a few times before leaving mooring and again on return. Wipe down jib furling line when you pull it out on return and duck tape black garbage bag over furler. Put lines in kitchen garbage bags but hang upside down so water drains. Every one worries about decks ( which is true) but also worry about lines, winches, clutches, sails etc. which can also freeze. Sails will break if gotten wet then frozen as will the plastic bits on your boat. Passive solar heat is your boats best friend in the winter. Unlike high latitude sailors where the boat is in near constant use the main problem is what happens to the boat when you are not on it. Realize your panels output will be much less. When I went out for my weekly visits recharging batteries was on the list. Now a days perhaps with AGMs this is no longer a concern I don't know but think it is if your bilge pump runs from time to time.
Was fun when I was young and stupid. More fun to follow the sun.
 

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-5C outside the boat this morning... Cozy night with heater on and warming pad under the foot of the berth. It's a tradition for us to overnight on a nearby island for New Years Eve.. Looking forward to heading out of this cold sunless cove for the sunny trip home!
 

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Nicest thing about winter sailing is the total absence of jetskis!
And near absence of macho-boats and Budweiser!

Falling overboard would of course be fatal much sooner, so overall conditions and "stay on the boat" have to be taken a little more seriously. Even dockside.
 

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Remember you're a womble
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Love winter sailing, cold water year-round here so that's always a worry. I tend to be fairly conservative with reefs etc in the winter as I don't like leaving the cockpit underway. Many days I am the only boat for miles, and the lack of SP is lovely.
 

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Hey,

I don't like sailing in cold weather. Cool is ok but cold is just no fun for me. Around here (Long Island Sound) the winters are cold enough to require the boat to be winterized. So once that's done my sailing is done anyway.

I do sail from April to November. The early and late days can be in the 50's but once it gets colder than that I prefer to stay home. The days are short, the weekend weather isn't good very often and most marinas are closed.

Barry
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
After starting the thread I did think about those who have to winterize. I sympathize with that crowd. But others who have responded here have provided some helpful input. One last thing I would add that a dodger makes a huge difference for any passengers this time of year. Not so much for me as I have to sit towards stern. But every little bit helps. And I agree we need to exercise greater caution to stay on the boat.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I enjoy sailing in cold weather but seeing the snow scene gave me pause. Wow man!

I'm always surprised how many people pack it in for the winter, particularly in the mid-Atlantic states... I'm fortunate in that I keep my boat in front of my house, so I can keep a close eye on her when the weather turns severe. But I never completely de-commission her for the winter, I want to be ready to sail if the opportunity presents itself... Which it often does, even in the harshest time of the winter...

Just back from a delivery to Florida, I left Annapolis just before Christmas... That's one of my favorite times of the year to make the trip, it's great to have the waterway and the coast to yourself... And while I only had one day of really great sailing on this one, from Morehead over to Wrightsville, the sailing can often be great heading south in the winter. If it hadn't been a delivery, and I'd been on my own boat, I would have wound up doing a lot more sailing, and a lot of it very pleasant...

A couple of years ago, I spent New Year's Day in Lewes, DE on my way south. Had the harbor all to myself, fantastic...



Hell, one of the best cruises I've ever taken, was a trip up to Maine during the winter years ago... Sailing New England in the winter is a very special experience, indeed...

:)

 

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After starting the thread I did think about those who have to winterize. I sympathize with that crowd. But others who have responded here have provided some helpful input. One last thing I would add that a dodger makes a huge difference for any passengers this time of year. Not so much for me as I have to sit towards stern. But every little bit helps. And I agree we need to exercise greater caution to stay on the boat.
I did look at a boat one year in Annapolis in winter and took it out for sail. Though they did have a T valve on the engine intake so they could re winterize the boat. Another nice thing about having electric propulsion is you never have to winterize the propulsion system so heading out for a sail is not a problem in winter and there is no need to winterize after each sail. But, in my harbor the town has all the moorings pulled and their docks too. Only boats allowed are the commercial fishermen. Sad state of affairs for a winter sailor. But, one must carry on as best one can. To paraphrase Liberace "I cry all the way to the Carribbean" I seem to get over it after the first Mojito. :) Another thing that helps is I just got the renewal application for 2015 mooring permit. Spring is coming!
 

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Over Hill Sailing Club
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Don't want to throw this off the tracks but one thing I have trouble with when it gets down to about forty degrees is that the Yanmar is very reluctant to start. I don't like using ether but have had to resort to that a couple of times. The omission of a pre-heat system on these engines IMO is a major flaw in design.
 

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Farr 11.6 (Farr 38)
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Don't want to throw this off the tracks but one thing I have trouble with when it gets down to about forty degrees is that the Yanmar is very reluctant to start. I don't like using ether but have had to resort to that a couple of times. The omission of a pre-heat system on these engines IMO is a major flaw in design.
I have several tricks that I use for in weather below 40. I aim a plug in space heater at the engine for 1/2 an hour before starting the engine, and then I crank the engine with the throttle at full open with the water intake off until I hear the first couple of cylinders try to start. Then I stop cranking the engine and let it sit 15 20 seconds while I open the intake seacock, and crank it with the throttle at full. It usually starts right up after that. But If not I close the seacock again until it does start.

Jeff
 

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Rashly assuming there's a decompression lever...it can also help to release compression, spin up the engine, and then drop the lever again. That boost in speed often will help it start. Of course it helps to have an extra starter button below, unless you've got a helper or very long arms.
 

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Over Hill Sailing Club
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I have several tricks that I use for in weather below 40. I aim a plug in space heater at the engine for 1/2 an hour before starting the engine, and then I crank the engine with the throttle at full open with the water intake off until I hear the first couple of cylinders try to start. Then I stop cranking the engine and let it sit 15 20 seconds while I open the intake seacock, and crank it with the throttle at full. It usually starts right up after that. But If not I close the seacock again until it does start.

Jeff
Yes, the throttle does need to be open all the way for cold weather starts. I try to leave the engine box ajar at night so the cabin heat gets into the engine compartment. That is usually enough. Of course at a dock with shore power, a small electric heater designed for the purpose or a dipstick heater could be used but that doesn't help when out cruising somewhere. If I could reach the decomp levers, would do that. Hydro-lock is a definite concern if cranking excessively. Good point as many people are unaware of the danger of filling their motor up with water.
 
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