The Top 5 “Wintering Aboard in Maine” Questions We Get Asked (Portland, Maine)

Winter live aboards in Portland, Maine

1. What about heat?

This is definitely the #1 question we get asked, and rightly so — it was the number one question I had before this winter, too!!

Heating the boat with a diesel heater in the winter in Maine

The short answer is “with electricity”. The longer answer is “we have an oil-filled heater that’s always on, a small ceramic blower that we turn on in the morning, and a diesel heater that we turn on when we want to play ‘tropical paradise‘ and lounge around in t-shirts.”

Funnily enough, heating the boat has been (relatively) easy, for a few reasons:

  • Our boat is approximately the size of your bathroom. Maybe your bedroom, if you live in an older house with a super duper small closet-style bathroom. But literally we’re heating about 180 sq. ft of space, so one oil-filled heater goes a long ways.
  • We insulated as much of the boat as we possibly could (using 3/4″ foam against the hull, in the backs of our cupboards, etc).
  • We have a giant (amazing) shrinkwrap bubble that captures the sun’s heat on any non-snowy days.
  • We were so grumpy about paying $300+/month to freeze in our rental house last winter, that being WARM (for an average of $100/month) is just downright amazing.
  • We are also big fans of wool socks, silk long underwear, fleece pyjamas, heated sheets, slippers and lots of coffee.Looking backwards from the vberth

Note that I took the picture above from the very front of the boat looking back… there’s just not that much space that needs to be heated!!
A beautiful winter day in Portland, Maine

2. Are there other people living aboard?

I guess people are curious if there are others that are as weird as we are, but I swear this is the second most frequently asked question. And the answer is yes! We’re not the only ones down here, and we’re not the only ones with shrinkwrapped bubbles!

DiMillo's marina in the winter

My (very professional) guesstimate is that there are about a dozen full-time liveaboards, and maybe another 10-20 boats that are being winter wet-stored (ie they’re still in the water). The nice part about winter is that we actually *know* almost everyone who is living here, so there’s a fun sense of community.

DiMillo's marina in the winter

3. Do you have a door?

Door into shrinkwrap bubble sailboat in Maine winter

We do! If you’ve come to visit us in our bubble, you’ve probably exclaimed about how much you like our door. And I don’t blame you 🙂 It’s awesome.

Awesome door in the shrinkwrap bubble

After enduring a hobbit-sized zipper entrance last year (when we weren’t living on the boat), we knew we wanted a FULL SIZE DOOR to our bubble. I told Jon it could be 5’6 tall, but he splurged for the extra 6″ so it’s even man-height 🙂

Leah in the bubble on a freezing-rain day on the boat

4. Where do you shower?

A blizzard on the boat in winter

We’re super thankful that DiMillo’s marina has two amazing shower/bathroom facilities (as well as laundry). Somehow the idea of showering in the cockpit with a 2L pop bottle is just not as appealing as it used to be… So the only tough part is making the short trek up to the shower facilities.

5. Aren’t you driving each other crazy?

Jon and Leah in Saratoga Springs

I guess this falls back in the “are you sane” category, but honestly we get along super well and manage to give each other ‘mental’ space even when we can’t give each other physical breathing room!

Jon and Leah on the Casco Bay Bridge

To be fair, there have been many more conversations along the lines of “Do we need a bigger boat?”, “What will Brio II look like?”, “How long do you think it would take to add 10′ to the middle of Brio?”, “Do you think Chuck Burns wants to design us a Nor’West 43′?”… but these are (mostly) in jest.

Morning shenanigans

And the most asked question onboard Brio? “When can we take the bubble off and go sailing?!?”

…Apparently not today; it currently looks like this inside the bubble:

Shrink wrap really works for sailboats

– – LMK 🙂


The Top 5 “Wintering Aboard in Maine” Questions We Get Asked (Portland, Maine) — 9 Comments

    • We miss you guys too!! Hardest part about winter in Maine is it’s missing all the amazing people from winters in Mexico!!! 🙂

  1. Hi guys,
    Nice to see some pics of Brio and how you weather out the winter, I have never seen that shrink wrap before, pretty cool!
    She definitely looks nice inside! One question what have you done with your port lights? Are they just the originals painted silver? Looks great.

    Tristan and Claudia

    • Hey Tristan! I’d never seen shrink wrap before coming to Maine either, but it’s a very popular solution to winter around here, and is certainly making our lives easier!

      Our portals are indeed just painted silver — it seeks to have held up quite well. We’ve even rebed the ports without any issues with the paint.

  2. Good post! February is certainly crunch time in your neck of the woods. But rest assured spring shall sprung and all those fabulous anchorages await!

    • I know it’s true, but man were we tempted last weekend!! It’s a little easier to stay bubbled when there’s 6″ of snow outside haha 🙂

    • Bonnie you know we talk about you guys and your anniversary and Super Bowl every. single. year. right? Cuz we do!! And I still don’t even like football!! haha Hope you guys are doing well!!!

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