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When to Winterize the Boat?

There’s an Arctic Outbreak across most of the USA this week, and Charleston is in its path. Golden Glow may briefly experience freezing air temperatures for the first time in her life. Fortunately, the water she’s lying in is still 60 degrees, which we’ve been advised will keep her warm enough so that her all-important systems will not be harmed by the cold.  CHSTempsScreen Shot 2014-11-18 at 2.02.30 PM Screen Shot 2014-11-18 at 1.13.54 PM

We were curious about what caused such frigid air south of the Mason Dixon Line before Thanksgiving. Turns out the culprit was a super cyclone called Nuri that started far away in the South Pacific. Nuri was powerful enough to surge up through the Bering Strait and into Canada and then push this huge mass of cold air down into the US.  One commentator said Nuri had the effect of “snapping a garden hose” speeding her energy along this long line.

Nuri

This image, taken by a NASA satellite last Thursday, shows Nuri heading for Alaska’s Aleutian Islands.

The Weather Channel reported that Cyclone Nuri is one of the lowest-pressure systems on record in the North Pacific — a “monster storm.”

The graphic below, made from maps created by NOAA, shows temperatures dropping across the whole US last week. The purple colors are below freezing.Screen Shot 2014-11-18 at 7.53.10 PM

The National Weather Service predicts many temperatures in the USA will drop 20 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit below their normal averages. Brrr!!

 So, how does this affect our decision about whether to winterize Golden Glow for this short burst of very cold weather? Well, we aren’t taking the cold snap lightly. We’ve read the statistics that the worst freeze damage to boats happens not in Minnesota or Maine, but in Florida and California – largely due to boaters being lulled into a false sense of security that they didn’t need to prepare for cold weather.
After much discussion and evaluation, we decided that we do not need to winterize for this short cold snap. The 60 degree water surrounding the boat will be like a blanket and on top of that, one small incandescent lightbulb hung in our watermaker’s locker should be adequate to keep the locker well above freezing. If the boat were to be staying in Charleston, or if the cold snap were to last longer, however, we’d be following good instructions on how to winterize, like these from West Marine or Boat US. Instead, our plan is to get Golden Glow out of the chilly weather as soon as we can; we leave right after Thanksgiving with the family and sail for the Caribbean, where the water currently is 85!

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