The first part of 2018 brought much colder weather and a few surprises.
By January 1st, our cockpit had been shrink wrapped to help insulate and protect against the winter weather. We had a zipper door installed on the starboard side for entry and exit. This had to be reinforced with duct tape many times throughout the season due to tripping, wind, and pets. The view looking out was hazy, but at least we had some light coming in. The shrink wrap combined with the bubble wrap on our interior windows (to help with keeping heat in and condensation) made the boat super cozy…almost claustrophobic to a few family members.
We had several snowstorms that produced wonderful snow for play but trying for everything else. We were on such a tight schedule with sharing the truck that I was bound and determined to do laundry regardless of what the weather was like. Looking back, I probably could have waited a day or three. Really, how stinky does one get in the winter anyway? Luckily we had covered parking at the marina, so getting into the truck to leave was no big deal at all. After being parked at the laundromat for two hours, the snow had reached the bottom of the doors. This was the first time in my life that I had needed to switch to 4×4 while driving, and I was so happy to have it available.
January 5th was an interesting day that led to some unfortunate events. John was at work (we weren’t expecting him back until after dark), and the boys and I were doing school as normal. We had noticed that the temperature inside the boat had dropped dramatically but didn’t think too much of it until I dropped a pen on the floor and it rolled and rolled and kept on rolling to the port side of the boat. That didn’t make sense due to the fact that we were floating. We went outside to have a look around and noticed that there was no water under the boat…zero. We were sitting on the muddy ocean floor and it stunk like stagnant water. I sent a text to John with the photos below (can’t really tell too much) to let him know what to expect when he got home. He had to make a great leap from the dock onto the port side of the boat and walk around the front making his way to the zipper door.
Unfortunately, over the next two days, the temps dropped to -2 degrees fahrenheit overnight resulting in our water lines freezing. John had placed tiny space heaters in the engine compartments and water holding tank compartments, and all of that remained nice and warm. It was the lines under the floors and in the bilges that froze. We ended up opening every hatch that led to something crucial and warming the interior with space heaters.
We kept our water usage to a minimum during this time. It was almost impossible to wash dishes. We already used the marina bathroom and showers, so it didn’t impact that part. Our lines remained frozen for two full days before the thaw.
We had heard good things about the Stamford Museum and Nature Center. After the snow had melted somewhat, we decided to check it out…probably not the best idea since the ground was mud. There was a farm with typical farm animals as well as otters, a large playground, and a small museum with hands on attractions. I really think that it was geared toward younger children, but the area really was beautiful and made for a fun day.
After several trips to NYC, we weren’t sure that we wanted to go back. I think the boys had become fed up with the public transportation and excessive walking. They did, however, want to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art before leaving the area. We decided to take one last trip and make our focus just the museum.
While there, the boys wanted to try some street food, so we had hot dogs, a wrap, and a chicken skewer before heading into the museum.
Shortly after entering, a lady approached me with tickets that she didn’t need, so we got to skip the long ticket lines to enter. The place was more enormous than I had imagined. We made an attempt to see everything, even if it was just a quick walk-by. The Greek Art Exhibit had the boys walking with their eyes on the floor…too many nudes for their taste. We did find a statue that looked just like Liam though! I think the majority of our time was spent looking at the armor and weapons which wasn’t a big surprise with three boys.
After leaving the museum, a lady with two small children came by and asked if we would like to buy chocolate bars that her son was selling for school. The boys quickly whipped out their wallets to purchase their favorite flavors. The little boy was so excited that he had made a sale (they are just behind us in the photo below).
Many of the boys school projects required molding things out of clay. Being that we have limited space on the boat, we don’t typically buy things like clay or play doh. After many failed homemade clay recipes, we found that Peanut Butter cookie dough (the easy three ingredient kind) makes a perfect moldable clay. The boys would mold and then we would bake and then they would decorate and eat their creations.
Nothing makes a parent happier than walking into your child’s room in the morning to see that they have been working on their math before school while still in bed 🙂
Liam, our oldest son, turned 14 while we were in Stamford. We bought him 14 gifts (all useful things of course) and hid them in various places around the boat. We created clues in Old World English to aid in Liam’s search for his gifts. Despite the difficult language, he did really well and managed to find all the presents with minimal assistance.
We celebrated with Angel Food cake and berries, specifically raspberries…Liam’s favorite.
The night of Liam’s birthday, we received a very large snow that was perfect for sledding the next day. This was, by far, the best snow of the season. Liam took my camera and got some great photos of the snow coming down.
The sledding the next morning was perfect. We made sure that we were up early to beat the crowds to the hill. The snow was so deep that the sleds would get stuck in the snow about halfway down the hill. We were there alone for quite awhile before the other kids showed up. Glen found a boy who wanted to race. Our bargain sleds were purchased at our local Shop-Rite and if broken, were easily replaced. This little boy showed up with a fancy sled that Glen’s sled just couldn’t keep up with. Despite losing several races, the boys had a lot of fun and still talk about their sledding hill.
Winter Storm Riley, a powerful Nor’easter, showed up March 2nd. John had been through winter 2017 in Bridgeport, CT with one blizzard, but that was on land and he didn’t have far to travel to work. This time, on a boat, was completely different. He also was commuting to the Bronx Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and this happened to be a Friday. He made sure that our dock lines were secure and extra fenders in place before leaving for work.
We experienced winds of up to 60 mph and storm surge on top of high tide that took us close to the top of the pilings. There were moments when the boys and I thought our dock might pop off the pilings. I sent a text to John who replied, “well, if that happens, just drive the boat around”; to which I replied, “no, I’ll be up in the parking garage with the boys and dogs”. Luckily, none of that happened. We did get very very close to the top of the piling, and the winds were incredibly scary, but I feared more for John being on the road coming home in the storm than us sitting in the boat. He made it home and had another great leap to get on the boat.
Where we were located fared quite a bit better than a little further north in Boston. We visited a few days later to take a look at a marina that had space for us for the summer. There was debris on the streets and we could see some of the bigger buildings had been damaged.
There were moments where we saw buds on trees and blue skies. We thought that winter must be over and spring is here. And then, it would snow again. Even though we were ready for winter to be over, we were always impressed with the beauty of the snow.
We continued to meet with the homeschool playgroup as often as we could. The closer we got to leaving CT, the less frequent we got to meet due to preparing for our upcoming sail north. The ladies in the group were so kind in hosting the group in their beautiful homes when the conditions outside were less than favorable. The boys really enjoyed having the space and abundance of toys to play with…things that they had given up for life on a boat. Even though they had given things up, they found ways to have fun with what they had. There were Nerf gun battles in the cockpit…the shrink wrap was great for catching wayward bullets. There were many Hot Wheels races on homemade ramps. Hide and seek is another story. Erik does okay, but where should a big boy hide on a 41′ boat in the winter?
We were so sure that winter was over at this point that John took the shrink wrap down. He had had enough at this point. He wanted to see the blue skies and get rid of the hanging zipper door. And then…it snowed again. Quite a large snow too. Enough that the boys were able to build one last snowman, and Benny and Oliver could play in the snow one last time.
One final snow made for a fun day!
Homeschool activities include some simple sewing lessons on snowy days. Candy wrappers turn into small bags with the help of clear packing tape and zippers.
Spring had finally sprung. Erik found a jellyfish on our dog walk on April 6th. We knew then that the snow was officially over (or we truly hoped). Not only that, but a neighboring boat had a mother goose sitting on her eggs in one of his potted plants while father goose stayed on lookout above and patrolling the waters below. We thought these were pretty good signs that winter was over.
We left Stamford on April 13th, a Friday, to begin another adventure and experience new places.