Saturday, February 29, 2020

A coupla hacks

Yep, it's a hot water bottle.  You want one.
As we're moving into March and beginning to think of preparations for spring, I thought I'd take a moment to enumerate a few of the more useful hacks we've played with over winter.  So here they are in no particular order:

1. The Hot Water Bottle.

The humble hot water bottle, the butt of many a joke, has proven one of the best purchases we've ever made, especial aboard in winter.  Unlike heating pads or the like, if you can heat water from any source--gas, solar, electric, 20 lb. tabby cat. . . --you can use one.  They're GREAT for taking the chill off your feet when writing on cold evenings, for pre-warming the berth, for assuaging the muscle strains you just got by raising the anchor with 45 pounds of old steam engine attached to it (no kidding, we did this), and in summer, some crushed ice and cold water can make a wonderful cool.  Do yourself a favor and AVOID the red rubbery looking ones.  They leak.  The transparent ones, mostly German made, are much better and wear like Iron.  We've had a couple of these for years and use them pretty much every evening in winter.

2.  Gas Bottle Holder.

Kinda hard to see because I've got it tucked out of the way, but that's kind of the point.
We've been pleased with our little GasOne duel fuel mini stove.  It cooks super hot, takes up a third less counter space, and is really stoutly built.  The review of the thing is here, if you're interested.  It's much easier here to find the propane gas bottles than to use the butane ones (plus I have an adapter so I can refill them from a tank).  The thing we don't like about them is the adapter hose is a weird length, taking up too much room on the counter but not long enough to get the gas bottle OFF the counter.  Trying to figure out what to do about this,  I stumbled across this large drink holder.  It will open up enough to hold the 3.5" propane bottles, which let me mount it to the bulkhead behind the freezer.  When not in use, it actually will fold flat and get out of the way of the plates, but its made for a much more tidy workspace.

3.  Electric Kettle

$20 can get you hot water when at dock without burning fuel.
Hmm. We seem to be on a heat theme here, not surprising as it's 37F out there right now.  We heat a lot of water aboard, not just for hot water bottles (as above) but for washing dishes, for tea, coffee, hot chocolate. . .you get the idea.  We tend to do a lot more of that in winter.  Cruising or on the hook, of course, we use a tea kettle and the stove, but when at dock, we realized we could use the Marina's electric and not burn up our propane.  At a local discount store, we found this lovely Black and Decker electric kettle.  It heats up 1.7L of water in a little over eight minutes, has a small footprint, and will stow away easily under the sink when we're underway.  Recommend. (As a note, if you do have access to electric, this will pay for itself in about a month).

4.  While we're on that subject, the humble Thermos

We use this thing like crazy
When Gail gets up, she puts the kettle on to boil.  She makes a French Press of coffee, and with the rest of the water, she fills up our stainless thermos.  When I FINALLY roll out of bed, I've hot water for tea.  It keeps you from having to boil water repeatedly when you're cruising, and is WONDERFUL when you're out at the tiller in a chilly wind and can pour yourself yet another cup of tea to keep your body temperature above that of frozen halibut.

5.  Hot Throw

This little control is your key to a pleasant, warm night's sleep at dock.
I saw several months ago a "hot throw", a kind of mini electric blanket, at a local store.  Looking at the dimensions, we realized it was perfect for the V-Berth.  The things are inexpensive, durable, only draw about 100W on high, and can double as a regular blanket or throw when shut off.  We'll kick the thing on a few minutes before turning in and get to slide into some nice warm bedding even when it's hard to keep the cabin temperatures up.

Anyhow, just wanted to pass those along.  Would work for a tiny house too.

We really haven't had much of a winter here on the Chesapeake.  Today is looking to be one of our last cold days of the year and it's only the 29th of February.  They're predicting temperatures in the 60's next week, so I'm planning on getting our fuel pump put back together and on and, in general, start gearing up for travelling.

So looking forward to that.

Magellan will be answering  your questions and emails.
Got any neat hacks for spring?  Leave us a comment.


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