It looks like Puget Sound won’t get the apocalyptic dump of snow initially forecast, but plenty of the white stuff drifted down on boats and docks throughout the region Tuesday and Wednesday.
We asked readers to send us photos and observations of the snowfall, which turned out to be much milder than expected. After several days of dire media reports and forecasts — and in our case, much excited anticipation — the mega-snowstorm turned out to be little more than a pretty white blanket over much of the region, though southern areas such as Tacoma and Olympia reportedly got up to 12 inches.
We sympathize with Steve Stark, who’s in Portland and was keeping an eye on his boat in Gig Harbor via a live webcam provided by the Peninsula Yacht Basin. He sent us this photo, taken at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday.
“Worrying that the rain now beginning will add weight to the 6-inch snowpack on my canvas under the cockpit,” Stark said. “Thankfully, the ever-vigilant PYB guys are on the job and keeping us absentee sailors in the loop and brushing off delicate surfaces.”
The Three Sheets Northwest crew was similarly thankful to our friends Heidi and Kirk Hackler, who live aboard their Passport 40, Due West, across the fairway at Elliott Bay Marina and kindly snapped this image of our boat on Wednesday morning.
In Olympia, Brian Snelson reported about 10 inches of snow overnight at Fiddlehead Marina and said a north swell was coming in as of 10 a.m. Wednesday.
Dylan Lippert, who lives aboard his boat at the Crow’s Nest Marina in Tacoma, snapped a few photos in the wee hours of the morning and was taking the snow in stride.
“Today is a perfect day to either make a snowman on the dock or go sailing,” he said. “It’s pretty slippery, so I’m wearing my micro-spikes on my boots … but not while on the boat!”
Good thinking, Dylan.
Doug Young, who lives aboard his Formosa 51, Angelique, at Delin Docks in Tacoma, found inspiration in the snowfall. Sitting in his cozy salon, he was zen as a monk.
“Names like Shackleton, Peary or Byrd dance through my mind as I stare out the port onto a frozen waterway surrounding my boat,” he wrote. “Although we sit warm and happy in our salon, we have to wonder what the life of these men must have been like.
“We bask in the warmth that our diesel furnace provides us and relax with the knowledge that we are self-sufficient. Should the power fail, we have back up. The inverter stands at the ready. The generator is ready to start in the event of a power failure. The battery bank has been recently serviced and stores the power we might require.
“How does the frozen water and snow affect us here on the Foss (Waterway)? Not at all, really. We are prepared for the weather. It provides us with a change and a chance for adventure. The winter has given us pause to think back to the days of Arctic and Antarctic explorers and in a small way, to experience what, although it must have been a trial, was nonetheless beautiful.”
In Poulsbo, liveaboard Courtney Kirchoff brushed off predictions of The Biggest Snowfall in Two Decades and found herself a little surprised by the weather.
“After all the hubbub about the huge, end-of-times storm, I had a feeling it would whimper out, but I was predicting sun and 70 degrees,” she said. “Guess I was wrong.”
Kirchoff’s dog, Riley, who she says is an excellent boat dog, didn’t seem to mind a bit of snow.
Seattle liveaboard Gary Peterson said he was feeling a little like an igloo dweller. He shared a few of his tips for staying warm onboard.
“After several years living aboard I’ve found that if I don’t have carpet in the boat I do need to at least have throw rugs to keep my feet off the cold floors,” said Peterson, who lives aboard his custom Flying Dutchman 47, Windswept, at Shilshole Bay Marina.
“Another necessity I found is to have moccasins or some sort of warm house shoes to keep the feet warm from the cold floors of the boat.
“Your portlights can also bring in much unwanted cold unless you either keep your curtains closed or add some sort of visqueen to the windows to make a sort of thermal barrier to hold in your heat. Another source of heat loss comes from you dorades. I only tend to shut off three out of four of them, so I do still have a little fresh air flow to keep from making the boat too stuffy.
“With these little precautions and wearing warm thermals under my sweats, I tend to stay pretty warm with the help of my electric and propane heaters. No matter how well a boat is constructed, when you cover it with snow and put it in 46-degree water, it tends to not hold heat in very well. Keep warm everyone, the days are getting longer and the summer is getting nearer…”
Also at Shilshole, a reader who identified himself as Mr. Clumsyass wasn’t having such a good time of it.
“Well, can’t say it was a good day,” he wrote. “While boarding (my boat), ice had built up and I lost the camera, as well as my favorite hat.”
Please be careful, dear Mr. Clumsyass. We don’t want you become Mr. Statistic.
Over on Seattle’s Lake Union, boater Joe Grande, who lives on his Catalina 320, Whisper, reported “benign” conditions on Tuesday night when he took this photo:
Though revised forecasts were predicting little snow in the Everett area, Mary Clem said the flakes were dropping heavily on Wednesday morning.
“I’m thinking the weather people underestimated,” she said shortly before 10:30 a.m. “We’ve got about 6 inches here already at the 12th St. Yacht Basin Marina and it’s really coming down now.”
Further north in La Conner, Al Felker, whose boat is moored behind the Lime Dock building in town, reported 25-knot winds and temperatures of 28 degrees — 15 degrees with wind chill — and about 4 inches of snow at around 10 a.m. Wednesday.
Nearby, Steve Roberts watched the weather from a live webcam he’d set up on his boat, Nomadness, while his cat ventured out onto the deck for a look.
Seattle Yacht Club member Bob Hale said the club issued a reminder to boaters whose vessels are not under cover that rain causes snow to get extremely heavy and can cause damage. The club urged boaters to clear snow from biminis and canvas coverings, as well as from drains and other egress areas — good advice for boaters around the region.
“This is fine for liveaboards, but what if the roads are closed or too dangerous for most of us to travel?” wondered Hale, who lives in Bellevue. “I’m a good snow driver, but I won’t venture from home unless it’s essential. The risk of something going wrong is too high.
“Fortunately, our boat is under cover — if the roof holds up.”
Bill Ray, a longtime boater who teaches weather classes for the Seattle Sail and Power Squadron, weighed in with his take on the weather. Watching the forecast discussion for the past week has been interesting, Ray said.
“The models did not agree until the last couple of days, with the big ambiguity being where the low would move through,” he said. ““When the GFS thought it would pass north of Seattle, it meant today should have snow from a warm front in the morning, switching to a warm front rain in the afternoon washing it all away.
“However, the models converged on solutions with the low passing ever further south of Seattle — it finally looks like near the Columbia — so we stay in the cold sector until tomorrow or Friday and the heaviest precipitation moves south.”
Tom Brown, however, is taking a sanguine attitude about the weather, since he left the Northwest in April and is now drinking margaritas and cruising around in Mexico with wife Jeanne Walker on their Islander Freeport 36, Eagle. Not that we’re bitter, of course.
“It is 80 degrees, I am in shorts, a t-shirt and flip flops … We are heading to our favorite shrimp taco stand with the crew from SV Wondertime,” he wrote. “I know, I know. I am rotten.”
Why, yes, Tom. Yes, you are.