Welcoming winter

Liveaboard boats secured to each other in their winter slips at Boston Harbor. Photo by Ali Wisch

October 2021

By Ali Wisch

It’s that time of year again in New England when people are taking their final voyages, starting to think about shrink wrap, winterizing, and maybe even buying antifreeze in bulk from Costco. While ignorance can be bliss – it’s hard not to notice the chill in the air beginning to creep in at night, signifying that the season is coming to an end.

After close to ten years as a liveaboard, I’ve developed a love/hate relationship with moving from summer to winter. I say summer to winter because, while fall has always been one of my favorite seasons, for as long as I’ve lived on the water, it has seemed to slip by unnoticed as I become more focused on preparing my boat and myself for the cold soon to come.

Despite the shifting of the seasons, it seems that for liveaboards, “boating season” never actually comes to an end. Because when you don’t haul your boat or close it up for winter, you’re still dealing with all things boat-related as much as you were, if not more, than during the “actual” boating season.

I believe the winter blues are a real thing. The short days, gloomy weather, and the desire to hibernate can take their toll. But I’ve found a sense of peace and camaraderie by living on a boat year-round. Once the summer slips have emptied and the cold sets in, we hibernate as a group – something that I never experienced when living on land. With fewer people coming and going, those who stay band together.

Splitting rolls of shrink wrap and sharing heat guns; hours spent sitting by diesel heaters discussing the best ways to insulate; trying to decipher how to keep the warmth in and the moisture out; coming together for movie marathons – I’ve watched “The Perfect Storm” and “Captain Ron” on cold, snowy nights with neighbors, more times than I can count on two hands. Not to mention the “official” start of winter, when we move our boats from our summer slips into our winter ones.

Not every liveaboard community is as tight-knit and established as mine, with some people having lived on their boats here for over twenty years. And when I say tight-knit – I’m not exaggerating. For the winter season, our boats are, quite literally, tied together with storm lines. There’s no escaping, no matter how hard one may try. To some, this may sound suffocating or isolating, but I’ve found it to be the opposite.

Saying goodbye is never easy, whether it’s to a loved one at the airport or your Searay when you walk out of the boatyard. So, this year, I’d like to say hello to winter rather than say goodbye to summer. I hope she treats us well.