Ahh, winter in the PNW. When we first moved here several people told us the key to making it through winter was to get somewhere sunny and warm for a while. For years we have been going to Mexico, for up to a month.
But we are kinda over that. This year we planned an 8 day trip to Maui. Just before leaving the first week of February, we got some snow in the backyard.
My last trip to the boat I found a fair amount of snow. I had been advised to leave the diesel furnace running. It's a home unit, so in a sense there's no difference than setting the thermostats at home while you are away on a trip. Or is it?
After we arrived on Maui and settled in we began to get reports of heavy snow around Seattle (well, for Seattle that is, heavy can mean a couple of inches!) Our island facebook page began filling with posts about icy driving, the grocery stores being raided, etc.
Using a product called TeamViewer (highly recommended by the way), I can connect to the boat's PC and see our cameras, and other information. I looked the boat over and the first big snow day it was fine.
Using our power utility's phone app, I checked for outages. Just a couple. All of Bainbridge's power comes over a bridge on the north end of the island. Between that point, and where Mahalo is berthed, are a few million trees and miles of above ground power lines. We suffer power losses regularly.
The Maretron monitoring system on the boat notifies me via text when certain conditions occur. You can set up "Alerts" on literally any condition and take whatever kind of action you like, including texts, emails, audible alarms, and so on.
I thought I was all set with the diesel furnace. But then I realized without shore power the blowers won't be running. Also, our expensive AGM batteries can really only keep the boat going for about 8-10 hours before they reach the 50% mark. Draining past this point shortens their lives, eventually ruining them.
Luckily a few weeks prior I was at the boat show, and met Chris from Pacific Yacht Management. He and Jeff Sanson are the owners of Pacific Yacht Management. (http://www.pacificyachtmanagement.com/) They live on Bainbridge, and commute to work right from my dock in a C-Dory.
I had met Jeff on the boat and showed him around, thinking that in the future I'll probably be using them for various kinds of service.
Getting a low battery alarm while 3,000 miles away was a bummer. Now the Seattle news outlets were calling this weather event Snowmageddon!
I called Jeff and he was happy to help out all he could. With the snow and weather, he couldn't get over to Seattle anyway. Power was out I asked him to get to the boat and start the generator. I decided to watch the progress with the cameras. It was kind of eerie. When I saw his boots I thought "help has arrived!"
Using the cameras I could see a fair amount of snow buildup on the tender cover, so I asked him to brush it off. Good man! At this point I'm also getting emails from the system at our house, about the power being off and our home generator starting and stopping. Geez!
Taking a break for nourishment. "Here's to Snowmageddon!"
This is one of many Maretron screens. We have power! Jeff would end up going to the boat several times to start/stop the generator. The last time he went he said "I hope this let's up, the road down the marina is so icy I'm not sure I can make it again."
The batteries and the vacation were definitely saved by technology. Being able to access the boat's cameras and Maretron system, with my phone and computer was great. Note how it takes Wifi to make that happen. Monitoring the power outages with the utility's app was helpful.
10 years ago I couldn't have imagined our boat "texting me," that's for sure.
And of course we still rely on the human element, i.e. Jeff to save the day.
Or do we? I have a little "auto start" project for the generator in the works! Stay tuned.