Friday, December 28, 2007

Brrrraving the Cold

The alarm clock goes off. It’s six o’clock. Mark and I are still holding each other. It doesn’t really help. Our body heat seems to have evaporated. We are two ice cubes, attached, holding our position in the warmest spot of the bed. My winter hat kept my ears comfy during the night. My nose peeks out from under the covers and immediately freezes. At least, that’s how it feels. Our breath creates white puffs of clouds. We don’t feel like getting up and emerge in the cold air. Another day on the waterway awaits us, so we have to get moving in order to leave at first daylight.

Then, it all comes down to speed. As quickly as we can, we jump out of bed and grab all our layers. I kept a few clothes under the sheets, so they would cause less of a shock when I put them on… Undies, tight shirt, long sleeved shirt, T-shirt, sweatshirt, fleece, pyjama pants, socks to tuck ‘m into, jeans, another pair of socks, rain pants, shoes, Mark’s ski jacket, and the hat stays on. The sailing gloves come on after breakfast. That’s a little tough, because my fingers feel numb. Better than nothing, though, since we don’t have winter gloves.

Our first steps on deck are precarious. We both slipped before on the icy surface. After taking the dogs to shore (Mark’s the one getting out of the dinghy and into the water to pull it on shore, because he has rubber boots) and finagling with the lines to get the thing attached to the boat, we are ready to leave. Hours on end, we suck it up in the ice cold cockpit. The north wind doesn’t have mercy. One hand steers, while the other is tucked away between our legs. Even a pocket is too cold. Mark and I take turns steering and navigating. Neither one of us is motivated or able to do anything else. We quietly wished we had dodgers, but knowing the expense, we quickly get rid of that thought. Other sailboats pass us. They have full enclosures. Their owners waive, with a frown on their face and pity in their eyes. They’re not even wearing foul weather gear! We take pride in roughing it and feeling one with the elements. We are pure sailors/motorists! They are wimps and they can barely see what they are doing! Anyway, that’s why we’re going south. Then, what will they do with their full enclosure? All that extra plastic and canvas will just be a hassle and we will be hassle-free! Kali and Darwin are curled up in a ball. They appreciate the thick blankets we put out for them

After anchoring, we rig up some kind of heating system with our camping stove and a cookie sheet. We plot our course for the next day, with all our clothes on. For dinner, we decide to make something in the oven. For once we don’t mind it takes hours to prepare something in there. I enjoy the heat against my back, when I sit down next to the oven door. Of course I’m blocking the warmth for everybody else…

And then it’s eight o’clock: bed time. We get rid of our outer layers, but keep socks, pants, a couple of shirts, and hat on. A few clothes will come off later, when the bed slowly warms up. My hands make one last movement in the cold air to set the alarm clock. The dogs are huddled on their blanket next to the bed. We close the bedroom door to keep all generated heat inside. It makes a big difference. Our conclusion of the day is the same as the previous days: It sucks to sail in cold weather. We gotta go south! Not that we aren’t trying, we’re just barely making progress.

About a week later, a friendly man lends us his car, and Walmart provides us with a small propane heater. That takes the chill out of the air. It sure helps to get our day started less painfully.

About two months later, we are in Central Florida and hope these experiences are well past. It sure makes it easier to write about it, wearing shorts and T-shirt, with fingers staying stiff-less…

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