Life Below Zero – Sailboat Edition

It has been an arctic couple of weeks aboard S/V Bosco. Good thing we’ve gathered the right resources to help us survive the harsh conditions that come with living aboard a sailboat in the dead of winter.


It has been in single digits for awhile. Last night was our first ‘blizzard’ on the boat; or rather, polar-vortex cyclone of frigid cold, gale force winds, rain, snow, and ice combined. The temperature dropped so fast it left behind a slick body of ice. Hoarfrost everywhere!

There’s not a lot of predatory action to worry about and its a hungry country, especially aboard the sailboat. Jake and I have to fend for ourselves to maintain enough nourishment to last through the cold days and long, dark nights. We’ve managed to stockpile plenty of dehydrated foods and we can usually supplement it with a good ‘catch’ of frozen fish or meat. We have to be extra-careful with our water resource, as right now it can be difficult to acquire as everything is dried up or shut down during the harsh cold. So we are very sparing about our use of water.

One really nice thing is how peaceful it is. There isn’t a lot of boat activity in the winter months and as Jake and I have missed the last couple of winters, its kind of nice to see snow again.





How does one cope dealing with sub-zero temps on a sailboat?

Well, its not without a bit of discomfort. Our power limitation is the biggest challenge. We have just enough power to run one heating source aboard the boat; a ceramic space heater. It doesn’t pull as much wattage as its larger counterparts, so it isn’t as powerful, but it holds its own without a strain to our power-systems. At night, we see temperatures drop to the 30’s inside the cabin. But at least we’re not exposed to the elements, which are quite fatiguing.

Some tricks we’ve found to work well is to maximize the amount of heat that alternate sources provide. We light candles, we have food preparing in a crock-pot every day, which accomplishes 2 things; 1. it provides an easy dinnertime meal when its dark and cold and we don’t want to deal with cooking and 2. it provides heat throughout the cabin all day. We often combine this with some sort of baking opportunity; bread, cookies, pizza dough. Whatever works with our crock pot meal, which further spreads the heat out in the cabin.

As much as we tried to set up our Bosco to be comfy and cozy, its still a boat. There’s no insulation, we live on water, we rock and we roll all the time. Its “super-tiny-house living”. So tiny that 2 people can’t stand side-by-side anywhere inside the cabin. And that is only part of what makes it tough. When its cold like this, we can’t escape each other either and the boat is an island again.

I guess this is a little prequel to what life would be like if we sail on up to Alaska. All we need is a little fireplace/heater and I think we’d be all set. Discomfort aside, its kind of cool to be on the boat in arctic conditions. Life aboard the boat is tough, there’s no doubt. I think it keeps us a little rough around the edges and thats a good thing. I would hate for us to get ‘too soft’ especially since we have so many more plans for travel and adventure that requires a bit of tough. Plus, we appreciate creature comforts SO MUCH MORE when we don’t have access of them.

After our frosty gale last night, its very cold, slick and icy everywhere. Maneuvering the decks is a bit treacherous. But, I couldn’t resist getting up there to accomplish the most important of all boat jobs; to build a Bosco Snowman!

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5 comments on “Life Below Zero – Sailboat Edition

  1. Love your “OLAF”

    Keep Warm you crazy kids!

    • Haha thanks. It was all Jilly’s idea. We are happy that next week will bring back the normal temperature(s) of 50’s and even 60’s!

  2. Superb pix! It makes me cold just lookin’ at ’em!
    Baking bread & cookies – THAT’s a good idea!! Makes the boat smell good, too.
    We’ve been havin’ a bit of a heat wave this Fall & Winter in Denver. Today’s high temp – 54F (Friday, Jan. 5, 2018).
    Jake & Jill – avoid the cyclone, eat LOTS, stay warm!

    • Thanks Mr. Steve! Baking goods is always a treat (plus the smells are delightful)

  3. Hey I had been wondering what happened to the boat! Plan on sailing off on another adventure?

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