Winter Sailing

The winter sailing season tends to be a quiet one in colder climates. As long as water is still water (not ice), I don't see many reasons to consider interrupting the sailing season. Sailing in the winter is different, you need to take extra care, and do some things differently.
Shovelling the deck before sailing, for instance.

Warm clothes are really important, winter is no reason to be cold. You always need to consider hypothermia, and how to continually avoid it.

Besides knowing how to dress (ie, why you put on a hat if your feet are cold), and what to wear (several layers, and flotation), a good supply of hot drinks in vacuum bottles really helps.

Great food, of course, also helps.
Belaying pins work reasonably well in cold weather, as long as you don't add a locking hitch on the last turn (which will freeze).

Jam cleats don't work well. Regular cleats work reasonably well in cold weather, the bigger they are the better, with respect to the size of the lines made down to them.

Hatches that slide don't work well if the exposed slides get snow/ice on them. I think a cover over the exposed portion of the slides would help (haven't had the chance to try this yet). Hatches that lift instead of slide work well in cold weather...nothing to get frozen shut.

New Year's Day Sail, 2006, New York Harbor
A great way to start the New Year right is to go sailing. Weather on Jan 1, 2006 in New York harbor was very pleasant, the snow had melted, the temperature was reasonable (5°C / 40°F), the wind was very light. Too light for good sailing, but the less wind, the easier it is to stay warm.

A windshift shortly before leaving ended my hopes of sailing off the dock, so we got aboard, motored off, headed upriver a bit, and set all the sails (main, foresail, jib, fisherman, topsail).

There were only two other sailboats out in the harbor, as we toasted the New Year.
The temperature varied somewhat throughout the sail. As the sun went low, and the (apparant) wind picked up late in the day, some people bundled up.
Krysia, however, outdid us all by going for a New Years Day swim!


New Year's Day Sail, 2007, New York Harbor

Sailing on New Years Day 2007 looked really doubtful for quite a while. There was a cold front coming through New Years Day with a lot of uncertainty about exactly when, and how much wind and rain were involved.

Temperatures were warm enough that there would not be any snow, but moderate to high winds are best avoided in winter, unless everyone aboard has really warm, windproof clothes (very few people do).

I delayed the sail an hour until most of the heavy rain had finished, and give people more time to recover from New Years Eve. The wind was not suitable for sailing off the dock, so we motored out, into the fog to set sail.

After a while the fog lifted. The wind kept shifting from very light to moderate to calm and back.

While last year there seemed to be two other sailboats (not schooners) out on New Year's Day, this year, we seemed to be the only sailboat.

Maggie and Sarah bending on the Fisherman


Toasting the New Year with

Maggie's Marvelous Mimosas



Happiness is a warm winter sailing outfit -- fur hat and floater coat.
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