Although we loved the warm weather in the South Pacific, we find ourselves drawn more to higher latitudes. Of the twenty years we’ve cruised in our Nordhavn 52 and our previous boat, most of that time has been spent in places where the summers are warm, but not hot, and the winters can be quite cold. When we lived in Seattle, we boated year-round and in the winter ranged as far north as the Broughton Archipelago, midway up the British Columbia Coast. This past year we spent the winter cruising Norway, and ended up frozen in the ice for several weeks.
Despite this predilection for temperate climates, we don’t like to be cold. We had a wonderful winter in Norway, and all the other cold-weather places we’ve been, but these conditions do require some special equipment. Some of the gear is simple and inexpensive, and others are more involved.
We’ve written a fair bit about winter boating already, mostly in the Pacific Northwest on our previous boat. In this new series, we’ll cover winter boating tips and techniques that we’ve developed since then, or that have continued to work well for us as we’ve cruised the world.
We’ll start with a heated mattress pad. This is a favorite new item for us that really takes the chill out of cold winter nights. We really dislike getting into a cold bed at night—it’s uncomfortable and keeps us awake. We tried various solutions such as heating the room and folding down the covers, but we could never get the bed warm again without heating the master stateroom during the day. This felt like a real waste of power, especially when we’re at anchor and running the diesel furnace.
Eventually we tried a heated mattress pad and this completely solved the problem. We turn on the pad an hour or so before bedtime, and the bed is warm and comfortable when we retire for the night. We purchased a Sunbeam all-season pad that we quite like. The unit has a preheat option that heats the pad up reasonably quickly, and separate temperature controls, allowing us to heat each side of the bed to our personal preference. We also appreciate that the bed heater uses little power compared to heating the entire stateroom.
We liked the product so much that it became a critical piece of gear on the boat, so we carried a spare. The pad has lasted well over the past decade though, and we’ve never needed to use the backup.