Looking Back at Last Winter

As my Facebook timeline alerted me this morning, we’ve officially been living aboard for a year today. Wow. I’m going to let that sink in for a moment. My kids are a year older, we’ve been living in this tiny space for a whole year … and the time has flown by! I honestly love this lifestyle and cannot wait for a time when we’re away from the dock more.

The nights have started turning colder. We’ve started running our heaters again which has caused me to think back to last winter on the boat. We only had one or two weeks of nice weather, after moving aboard, before the rain and cold really hit and we were blasted with one of the nastiest winters that I can remember here in the Pacific Northwest. Granted, I may have just been that much more attuned to the weather and the elements being as we’re so much more affected by it now. But, I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that last winter was a pretty harsh winter here.

I like to say that we made it through last winter and we’re still loving living on a boat so I think we’ll be OK!

So indulge me on this blog post as I recount some of the storms we weathered last winter and share some of the photos I took.

On December 8th, 2016, we had our first snowfall aboard the boat:


dec 8 first snow.b

dec 8 first snow.d

One awesome thing about living aboard a quality cruising-type sailboat is that we’ve got lots of storage (much more than you would expect in a living space of about 300 sq. feet, but this boat was made to be away from the dock for weeks or months at a time and the built in storage is nothing short of amazing) so we had stores of food packed away and we kept cozy warm inside.

Some live-aboard boats in colder climates than ours actually shrink wrap their boats in the winter time for better insulation but that’s not an option we’ve explored, although it may have helped last winter since we ended up being stranded at the dock with an inoperable engine for many months (that’s another story altogether…) but I’m hoping that this winter we may still make a few trips out onto the water on nicer days so no shrink-wrapping for us!

It would be nice if we had a wall mounted diesel heater to provide our warmth on board, but they’re expensive and we haven’t decided if we’re going to need/want that long term, at least not enough to make the purchase, so last winter we ran a couple electric space heaters to keep the boat toasty warm inside. We haven’t come up with a better option for this year, and it worked well enough last year, that we’ll probably just do the same. Of course, if we lose shore power we would lose our heat but we do have family close by that we could stay with if we ever needed to.

Last winter we saw not only snow storms, but several major ice storms which actually shut down nearly the entire Portland-Metropolitan area! We didn’t venture out of the boat much during the worst of the ice storms, but we did a few times, and afterward, to explore and get some photos of the beauty.

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Of course, Mosaic was warm inside so the worst of the snow and ice would melt away quicker on our boat than on others that didn’t have anybody living inside them- so the most dramatic photos were to be found elsewhere.

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We definitely had some days where we held tight to the kiddos out on the docks as it was treacherous to just walk around due to the layer of ice. It would be nice in the winter if the docks had a handrail, at least on one side, but they don’t.

Mostly, we stayed inside the boat where it was safe and warm, but I remember two times where the weather hit while we were away from the boat, when the dock ramps were pure sheets of ice and I had to hold Kali’s hand with one of mine to keep her at my side, as she would have simply slid down the ramp and likely off into the icy water, and with my other hand move carefully down the ramp in a controlled slide holding the handrail. Evan had to hold onto the handrail with strict instructions to go slow and stay behind me so that he could grab onto me on his way down if he were to slip and fall. Those were treacherous and somewhat scary trips from the car to the boat but luckily we didn’t have any problems.



These two photos were from a voluntary outing after one of the ice storms where Evan and I trekked up to the marina restrooms to shower. It’s hard to see it, but there’s a good half inch of ice covering that dock ramp and zero traction. Evan and I both had to hand-over-hand it both on the way up and on the way down. It was quite a workout actually.

And then, when we weren’t having ice storms, we also had some major snow events. In January, we were hit with a snow storm that ultimately dumped about a foot of snow on us at the marina, and some areas in the region got two feet or more. This was the most snow that Kali had ever seen so, of course, we had to gear up and go explore and play in it!

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Besides the ice and snow storms, it also just got really cold. I didn’t think that the water in the marina would freeze … but it did! In fact, we had well over an inch of ice all around our boat in the slip at the coldest and it stayed for a long while.

Here, the ice is just beginning to form in the water.:

jan 6.b

jan 6

And, on January 15th, Brenden’s 30th birthday, he broke this chunk of ice away from the ice surrounding our boat:

jan 15

It was strange to feel the boat moving in its much hampered space and feel it bump against the ice periodically.

So, we’ll see what this winter brings. I am definitely hoping for a milder winter- more rain, less snow and ice would be great. Or less rain, too, but we do live in the Pacific Northwest after all …rain is just a part of life here! But it sure is beautiful.

jan 28.a

Thanks for reading, and following along on our sailing adventure blog! Check out our Mosaic Voyage Facebook Page for current adventures and more day to day pictures. We’re a family of 4 living aboard on 40 foot sailboat in Portland Oregon. We love the PNW but plan to leave in a year or two for extended cruising aboard our sailboat. We’ve got dreams to travel the world! Much love and thanks! ~Rachel

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