We Live in a Bubble: Shrink-wrapping a Sailboat in the Water with the Mast Up (in Portland, Maine)

Yes I know that’s a long title. But if you knew how many times I googled “how to shrinkwrap a sailboat in the water with the mast up” you’d understand… with the mast UP and in the WATER are key complicating factors to this fun little boat job šŸ˜‰

We now live in a giant bubble. We’re lovingly referring to it as “the bubble” because “giant contraption covered in somewhat opaque plastic” just doesn’t have the same ring to it and I’m already worried about how long it’ll be until we hate the bubble… šŸ™‚

Shrinkwrapping a sailboat in the water with the mast up

But for now — for now — the bubble is AMAZING. We built our frame hoops out of two sections of electrical conduit zap-strapped to the stanchions, and that made for the most beautiful amount of headroom you can imagine.

Shrinkwrapping a sailboat in the water with the mast up

We also have a “full size” door on this baby; last year we shrinkwrapped Brio (on land, with the mast down) and we unintentionally made it so that you had to snake-like belly-wiggle to get from the door to the cockpit #nofun. Since we’re committed to trying this whole living-aboard-in-a-Maine-winter thing, we knew we needed a better entry system šŸ™‚

Shrinkwrapping a sailboat in the water with the mast up

It took a full day to construct the web (frame) for the shrinkwrap, and here’s what the whole mess looked like when we were done…

Shrinkwrapping a sailboat in the water with the mast up

At this point there were a few hurriedly whispered “is this too big?”, “are we crazy?”, “is the marina going to kick us out over this contraption??” conversations, but we decided our windage is really no more than the average power boat, and we want HEAD ROOM goshdarnit. So full steam ahead šŸ™‚

Shrinkwrapping a sailboat in the water with the mast up

I’d like to mention that we chose maybe the NICEST two days ever to shrinkwrap… it was 50 degrees, flat calm and crystal clear blue skies. The kind of day you should probably be out sailing actually šŸ™‚

But last year we waited until after the first snow (oops) and had to spend the first half of a day scraping icy bits out of boat crevices (and boats have a lot of crevices, it turns out) so we are trying to learn from our mistakes.

Shrinkwrapping a sailboat in the water with the mast up

Thank goodness Jon found another boater’s post about shrink-wrapping that mentioned doing the plastic part in two pieces. “DUH” in hindsight, but “OF COURSE” in the moment.

I shudder to think about what a 40′ x 32′ piece of shrink wrap flapping in the wind while we tried to cut a slot for the mast might have looked like…

Shrinkwrapping a sailboat in the water with the mast up

As it was we still made one pretty big boo-boo… when we cut the slit for the backstay, we then proceeded to shrinkwrap the bottom, back and front before remembering to seal that slit at the top.

It’s REALLY hard to get to the top of the bubble once it’s been shrinkwrapped (it’s 10′ in the air!) so we had to do a bit of a hack tape-and-pray job. That should work, right?? šŸ˜‰

Shrinkwrapping a sailboat in the water with the mast up

Last year Jon (and our great friend Bill, who saved our clueless butts) did all of the shrink-wrapping while I “assisted” (aka: took pictures and made hot drinks). This year I wanted to get in on the action, so I made sure Jon documented my contribution too šŸ˜‰ do

In fact, he even got a little video of the patented “heat and pat” motion… in case you’re interested! I’m working on sealing the two pieces together in this:

All in all, it took us a half-day-ish to build the frame and strap it all down to the boat, and a very real full day (with two people working the whole time) to do the plastic cutting and shrinking part. So not too bad.

Shrinkwrapping a sailboat in the water with the mast up

The very cool part is that when the sun is shining it’s *literally* summer-like inside the bubble. We’ve been hanging out on deck in t-shirts and there’s talk of some sand and a blow up palm tree. We’re classy like that, you know?

Shrinkwrapping a sailboat in the water with the mast up

We haven’t built our door yet (just the frame) so that will be interesting, and we still need to add a few more vents. We’re mostly heating with electric heaters but when we run the diesel heater we’ll need to figure out a very good venting system (I don’t want to croak inside a giant bubble).

We did wake up to frost on the inside of the bubble this morning, so that’s an interesting (condensation-related) problem to consider… and I’m sure we have all sorts of other learning ahead of us!

But for now, I’m pretty happy to drink a glass of wine on deck and pretend I’m cruising in the tropics again…

Shrinkwrapping a sailboat in the water with the mast up

– LMK šŸ™‚

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Comments

We Live in a Bubble: Shrink-wrapping a Sailboat in the Water with the Mast Up (in Portland, Maine) — 3 Comments

  1. Hi! Thanks for the awesome photos – do you still have a link to the guide you used to do this handy?

    I’m in Seattle, WA and have a lot of re-bedding to do to the J/35 I just purchased. The rain here necessitates shrink wrap!

    Mark

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