The Offshore Voyaging Reference Site

A Confession From (Not So) Intrepid Northern Explorers


It’s been a long day of steaming in thick fog, keeping a good lookout for ice (there’s lots around), and trying to keep warm in temperatures of only 3˚C (37˚F). Finally we make harbour and get the anchor set.

We dash below where the engine heat exchanger, forced-air heater has kept everything warm and dry. Everything, that is, except our bunk. At bedtime I drag things out getting ready, hoping John’ll get in there first and start warming up the bed. But, no, he’s dawdling, too. Oh, well, nothing for it…aaagh!

Oh, but, wait…that was in the old days. Everything is different now. These days our bunk is always warm and dry.

Is it some new kind of dry bunk material, you ask? No, our little secret is an electric blanket—now you know that we aren’t being modest when we say we’re not really very intrepid!

Motoring days make for a very toasty bunk, as we’ll run the blanket the whole time we’re underway. If we’ve been sailing or are at anchor for the day, we’ll sneak (if we have crew aboard, since they don’t get this little perk) into the aft cabin 30 minutes before bedtime, and turn it on. Though nowhere near as toasty as when it’s been on for hours while motoring, it still makes a big difference to our comfort level. Those heartrending evening cries of, “Yikes, it’s freezing in here!”, echoing across northern anchorages, are a thing of the past.

And the good news is that a modern electric blanket doesn’t use as much power as you might think: only 36 watts (3 amps at 12 volts), so 30 minutes only uses about 1.5 amp/hour out of the battery.

The way I see it, using an electric blanket is our little contribution to maintaining the peace and quiet of the north.

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