Ice Capades

We shut down the PortSide office and the Mary Whalen for 10 days over Christmas and New Years. What does that mean when re-opening the boat Saturday night 1/2?

Ice Capades, eg frozen everything.

The interior of the boat was 30 degrees when I returned and turned on space heaters. Soaking rags were frozen where I left them (kind of handy that one!). The water line supplying the galley sink was frozen. I ran around with a torch and flashlight and ascertained that it wasn't frozen at the elbow where the line comes through the overhead in the tool crib where the line perforates the deck, it wasn't frozen on the line that ran from water tank to that through-deck fitting.

Inspection the following morning revealed that the 6-foot tall water tank, aka "the body pickling tank" up on the boat deck was, for the first time, frozen inside blocking the valve - downside of no water running for 10 days and me not being here to smash ice in the tank.

I checked the weather. Temp would be over freezing on Tuesday 1/5. I decided to wait it out. I'm doing better with the impact of winter weather this year. I used to fume about how much time it took from what I thought was Real Work (in the office); but maybe I'm now understanding that saving, and guarding, the Mary Whalen so she's not plundered as she was in Erie Basin, requires being aboard, slowly fixing systems, putting up with interim solutions. I also have to say that the ski pants Mum gave me for Christmas are making winter life aboard a lot easier. Warmer legs may account for higher spirits.

Monday afternoon, diesel for the galley stove ran out. With that, the galley temp would not get above 40 given the weather. There's just so much a space heater can do in a space with cold air above, below and behind it. John Weaver would be in the office by late Tuesday morning and with his van he could go fill up the diesel jugs, so that wasn't so long to wait.

By Monday afternoon, I realized that my "Whalen Life in Winter skills" were really rusty. I'd forgotten that when it's 20 degrees and blowing hard out of the N or NW, the cold air comes right up the galley drain freezing exiting water unless it comes down hot and in quantity. By pouring out dregs of tea, dollops of water, toothpaste spit, I'd frozen up the drain. By end of Tuesday, the galley was ringed with dirty dishes from me, Weaver and Dan Goncharoff working in the office, eating lunch and drinking tea and coffee.

Temps were not soaring, so Tuesday,
I started calling tugs to get a delivery of some warm water to unseize the Body Pickling Tank. After that, Weaver would shroud it in a black tarp, something we didn't get to during December craziness. Thank to the crew of the tug Taurus and K-Sea for the water delivery!!! I ran the hose down a steel pipe so that I could direct it to the mouth of the valve; and in just minutes, there was running water!

Here's a photo from one of last year's Big Freezes. That time, we'd frozen the valve OUTSIDE not inside the Body Pickling Tank, and so to prevent losing water when we took the valve off, I attached a flexible cutting board to a mop handle with zip ties. This I slid into the tank while Weaver unthreaded the valve, and the suction jammed it against the fitting quite tightly, thank you very much....

Tuesday afternoon, 1/5/10, I climbed down the hatch in the galley to see the galley drain. Damn, stupid moi. I should have torched that pipe as soon as I deduced that it was frozen. I'd cracked the valve that Ed Fanuzzi had installed last year. Replacing that would be another item on the to do list.

Here's Ed working on that valve last year.

(Note: Body Pickling Tank photo above is part of the PSP (PortSide Sustainability Project). In the warmer months, we collect rainwater off the pier shed roof and pump it up to the boat.)