Weekend in the Freezer

Oh, my, it's been cold in Virginia! Even with the heaters going, it's mighty chilly aboard Nine of Cups. Climbing out of our bunk in the morning has been painful. Worse is the early morning, bone-chilling trip up the wharf. Ice crystals glisten on the wooden planks and provide an unduly amount of slip and slide as we tenuously walk the 800 steps to the toilet block and back. I'm always afraid I'll slip right off the wharf and into the river. I've located the ladders for climbing back onto the wharf, just in case. The Elizabeth River, the part of the ICW on which we're located, has a layer of skim ice on it. No skating yet, but if the cold persists, it might be an option. Actually, we're told there's rarely a solid freeze on the river. The water is slightly brackish and the constant traffic of barges, tugs and boats keeps the water churning a bit.

ice on the river

Because it's colder outside than inside, there is condensation on the hull which I refer to as “drool”. If we push our bunk pillows too close to the hull, they get wet and subsequently freeze to the hull. The portlights drip and dribble. The socks in which we keep our wine bottles are a bit soggy. The wine is safe and definitely cool, however.

Winter Storm Helena (they name them now!) blew in with a vengeance over this past weekend. Blizzard warnings were in effect and Virginia's Governor declared a State of Emergency in anticipation of heavy snowfall, gusty winds and white-out conditions. The “chilly” moments I described previously and the “skim ice” on the river has now intensified.

blizzard warning

Cups has had some morning frost on her hatches and ports lately, however on Saturday, we woke to the much-anticipated snowstorm. We've stuck an outside thermometer on one of the portlights and though it's warmed a bit by the interior heat, it showed temps in the 20s and later in the low teens. Brrr and more brrr! There was so much snow, we could no longer see out the ports!

portlights covered in snow

The usually temperate mid-Atlantic Virginia climate has become an ice box with the raging blizzard depositing nearly a foot of snow on Cups' deck. Throughout the night, we could hear the ice groan and Cups respond in protest with creaks and groans of her own. And here we are ... without a shovel!!! David has worked with a broom to clear off the bimini and solar panels.

clearing snow off the boat

After a gray, snowy day on Saturday, Sunday morning dawned brightly with a temp of 17F outside and 50F in the cabin. Are we complaining? Not really.

In truth, it's just one more adventure. No worries. Temps are supposed to climb in the next day or two.

nine of cups covered in snow

By the way, if you've never watched the BBC series “Life in the Freezer” narrated by David Attenborough, it's a fascinating, highly entertaining documentary on life in Antarctica … somewhat akin to life aboard Nine of Cups at the moment ... less the penguins.