oh fantastic, wrapped in plastic

I may have mentioned how cold and nasty it is here.  It is not (as many people have feared) because we are living on our sailboat.  It is because it’s winter and New York winter is cold.

In mid-November my Better Half pulled out the pieces of canvas that came with our boat and put together a really fantastic enclosed “room” in the cockpit.  It had zippered doors and clear-ish vinyl windows that we could see out of.  Unfortunately it had been stored in a damp compartment before we bought our boat and wasn’t in the best shape.  The waterproofing on the canvas had long worn away so we had to prop up the center of the bimini with a broom handle to keep rain from pooling and dripping through.  Some of the pieces were secured with zip ties because the stitching was rotten or the zippers blown out.  However, it mostly kept the wind and elements out of the cockpit and it was so nice to step into the warmth which stayed long after the sun went down.

IMG_1932
Canvas cockpit enclosure in the first snowfall.
IMG_1933
Another shot of it – it was really quite nice…

We talked about just leaving it up all winter but a close look at the tattered cloth told us that it was close to a catastrophic failure.  We also wanted to fix the rust on our decks this winter and our little canvas room only covered the cockpit.  This meant: plastic.

Wrapping in plastic does not align with our ecological ideals.  We are trying to minimize consumption and waste, not contribute to it.  We weighed out the pros and cons and the pros won.  Mid December we took down our canvas room (which we appreciated even more once it was gone!), the plastic-wrapping crew built a wood structure on our deck, and then we got wrapped.  It was a fairly major production…

laying the plastic over the wooden structure
laying the plastic over the wooden structureIMG_5211
Using heat guns to shrink the plastic around the structure.
Using heat guns to shrink the plastic around the structure.
The final product, port side.
The final product, port side.  Lola is exploring this weird new world.
Starboard side. See the rust that we need to be taking care of?
Starboard side. See the rust that we need to be taking care of?

The verdict?

  • The pros: It’s pretty great and greenhouse-like when the sun is out.  It warms up to 70 degrees or more, which is really nice.  But once the sun sets or is hidden by a cloud the temperature immediately returns to ambient.
Lola loves the warm!
Lola loves the warm!
  • It keeps the rain, snow, sleet, freezing rain, and other nastiness off our decks.  It shelters us from the wind.
Thanks to HerSpouse for this picture.
Thanks to HerSpouse for this picture.
  • The cons: it stinks (like plastic).
  • The wrapping cost mucho dinero.
  • Our zipper door is prone to freezing shut when it’s really icy.  This means dumping hot water on it; no big deal but irritating.
  • The deck is cluttered with wood and structural cords.
  • The amount of structure on the deck really increases our windage.  This means we feel wind gusts a lot more.  We are moving noticeably at 20 knots where before it had to be at 30 knots or above before we really moved.
  • We can’t see outside except for half the portlight in our bedroom that’s below the deck.  What’s the weather doing outside? kneel on the bed and crane your head around the corner to see…

So overall good with some drawbacks.

As long as everything goes according to plan we will have the deck work finished by the time the plastic comes off.  For an idea of how far we have gotten with this project please reference this post.

One of the purchases in our near future will be a Sailrite sewing machine.  This will allow me to recreate our canvas room so we won’t have to wrap in plastic again.  Or, maybe the plastic will still be up next winter…

5 thoughts on “oh fantastic, wrapped in plastic

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