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Baby, It's Cold Outside. Let's Move to Florida!

Nope, not moving to Florida.

Chicago has hit us with some cold weather pretty early this year with December temperatures below zero Fahrenheit (-20C) and now January is doing the same thing.  Our first winter aboard Cygnet was 2014/15 and we had one of the toughest winters in Chicago history.  We survived on Cygnet and thought if we can tough it out through that one we'd be good.  Well here we are not halfway through 2016/17 and we are having to tough it out again.  When December's cold days hit we hadn't wrapped the boat yet and it was cold.  Now the boat is wrapped tightly and we are still cold.  One reason is because we are missing a window.

Temporary window
This past Spring we had our mechanic (well, our ex-mechanic as you'll learn) doing a bunch of work for us, number one being a six month! rebuild of our generator.  He assured us he could also fix a glass window on Cygnet that was missing and the previous owner had replaced with a plastic one.  So in late summer he took the plastic out to use it as a template and that was the last we saw of it.  We asked him about it often but all he could tell us was that he was waiting for Taylor Made to get him a replacement.  So as fall approached we gave up on him and called a glass company to get the window replaced.  After waiting weeks for this guy to get out to the boat and do the measurements and inspection we found out it would be too late in the year to replace it and we'd have to wait until Spring.  So we put a couple layers of plastic over it and hoped for the best.  Well here it is in the middle of Winter and the plastic isn't cutting it.  On nice days we have a very warm boat, but when the temperature dips below 20 the heaters just can't keep up.  This morning, with the temperature about 3 degrees outside we had an inside temperature of 59.  Now, part of that was because one of our heaters had tripped the circuit overnight and we were only running on three heaters by morning.

We've resolved to not try to keep that tripped heater on high, only low or medium.  That heater's running off a 30Amp shore-power cord with a 15Amp splitter on the end sending power to the small heater we have in the engine room.  Yes, some of you out there will get upset with us for running two space heaters off the same 15Amp circuit, but it's the option we have right now.  We have another 30Amp available to us so that will get added to the heater mix with an additional unit this weekend.

Added insulation this year, furniture blankets cover the bow for warmth
We haven't been able to do much work on Cygnet this Fall since Kevin, who writes the majority of the blogs, has been busy with a new enterprise.  In December he opened an Experimac location in Chicago and it has taken 95% of his time.  Colette helps out on Cygnet as she can, but Kevin is the one who does most of the engineering/ maintenance/ problem solving.  So things have been let go for a bit.  Working seven days per week isn't good when you have a boat to keep maintained - especially in Winter.

Kevin did replace both shore-power inlets this fall with SmartPlugs and we feel more comfortable with our power usage getting to the upper end of the scale with the heaters cranked.  We used to never allow the shore-power usage to regularly go above 30Amps on our 50Amp rated circuit, but we've been flirting with 40Amps at times without problems.  The inlets are cool to the touch, even when drawing a lot of power through them.  Much better than before.

New SmartPlugs, better than DumbPlugs
So what else has been going on?  Some of you may remember us taking Cygnet out for New Year's Eve last year.  This year our good friends volunteered their boat, Obsession, to convey us to the festivities.  We had a great time with some cool people and highly recommend it for anyone else in this city.  There were two other boats out that night, save for the police and fire department and we essentially had the river to ourselves.

Preparing for the Ball Drop Star Ascension
Other than the cold, Cygnet has been good to us, and we are still happy with her.  It would be nice after a 12hour day to come home to a big warm house sometimes, not a small cold boat, but that feeling passes quickly with a cocktail and blanket.

So water we thinking about our third Winter aboard?  Well, when the cold days and nights hit they make it less desirable.  When people hear we live all year on a boat in Chicago they often ask us what we do in winter.  Kevin usually says "suffer" and gets a good laugh.  This year we haven't been suffering per se, but it has been a bit challenging, and always worrying about the amperage, outside temperature, and heater placement is a pain.  St. Patrick's Day is only two and a half months away, and that's the unofficial start of Spring in Chicago, so we look forward to it.


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