It's Valentine's Day and our boaty blogger Jonty Pearce is cold!


Today is Valentines Day. I know that any readers will be seeing this at least two days after this warm and loving day, but bear with me. I’m writing this on Valentine’s Day and I’m cold. Not emotionally – despite the fact that I remembered a card and present for the Indoor Dragon and she omitted to remember (her excuse is that she thought it was tomorrow) – but physically cold. Why is such a special lover’s day placed at such a cold time of year? February attire leans more towards fleecy vests and warm coats than flimsy underwear, so it makes sense for those who wish to keep their inner warmth intact to stay indoors.

We are celebrating a close friend’s 50th birthday in a 16th Century four storey draughty Manor House that sleeps 24. Lots of bodies do create heat whilst the outside temperature drops – there is snow on the far hills – but as there are 29 of us, three brave and selfless couples are using their camper vans in the car park to extend the accommodation. Last night we all drank enough not to notice the dropping temperature, and this morning the ID and I were toasty warm in our four season sleeping bags with a duvet over the top. The trouble is that it is always my job to get up to make the tea. Our camper heater takes a little time to clear the frost from the inside of the windows, though by the time the Dragon stirs to drink her tea the ice has usually melted and it is warm enough for her to dress without shivering. Not so yours truly – the tea maker gets thoroughly chilled to the bone before adequate layers are donned.

The same happens aboard Aurial. While the Eberspacher does an excellent job, the controls are in the saloon. If I’m quick, I can snuggle back under the duvet with a hot cuppa while the heater does its job. But how about those boats with a broken or absent heater? Modern advances in clothing technology have gone a long way to keeping us well insulated. Multiple layers of micro fleece with a wind proof top shell layer beat a string vest, flannel shirt and a thick Arran jumper hands down. Fleecy lined trousers are a godsend – and as sailors, we can always slip our oilies on over all the other layers to complete our protection from the elements.

Nevertheless, the Indoor Dragon can still feel cold. It always surprises me that her internal fires do not generate sufficient heat to restrain her from joining in The Battle Of The Thermostat. A comfortable temperature for me is 20º – the ID likes it at a sweltering 22º. The thermostat dial spins faster than a yo-yo, but we can usually compromise at around 20.5º, aided by my purchases of heated fleece blankets and battery heated waistcoats and gloves. Aboard, the trick is to ensure she is overdressed before emerging from hibernation. Removing layers is more acceptable than adding new ones as heat is lost during the change.

We do not generally sail in the winter. My decommissioning includes stowing the sails down below, and to re-rig Aurial for a short winter weekend sail takes too much time and effort. I both admire and question the sanity of those hardy mariners who venture out when snow lies on the decks and ice encrusts the jib sheets. Their multi-layered fleeces, jackets, hats, and gloves may keep them above freezing, though at the cost of visual comparisons with Mr Blobby. Each to their own. On this Valentine’s Day my preference firmly lies with lazing in front of a blazing fire while the leg of pork for lunch crackles in the oven. Sailing? Not today – I’ll leave that till a warmer day!

Jonty Pearce