The Big Chill

Published in the January 2019 Issue January 2019 Multimedia Shannon Stockwell

If you’re out on the houseboat this time of year, it’s likely a bit chilly. No matter your age you’ll want to make sure you’re taking all the precautions necessary to ensure good health while you’re out on the water. You’ve probably seen kids go to school in the winter time in shorts and a hoody sweatshirt, claiming to be warm, and maybe they really are. I never believe them because I like to keep my office a balmy 80 or 90 degrees all winter long. However, the older some people get, the easier they seem to get cold.

Here are some tips to keep you warm in the chilly weather. Some will seem pretty obvious, but they are good reminders.

Stay Active

Try not to sit for long stretches. Move around. Any kind of activity, from walking the docks (as long as it's not very cold) to doing some onboard cleaning, gets your circulation going and makes you feel warmer.

If you have difficulty walking, moving your arms and legs and wiggling your toes and fingers will help. If it's very cold outside or icy underfoot, try to keep active indoors rather than venturing outside.

Eat For Warmth

Regular hot meals and hot drinks will provide warmth and energy. Foods such as potatoes, beans, bread, milk, eggs, meat and fish, are all good sources of protein, energy and vitamins which will help keep you healthy.

Eating plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables helps. Stock up on basic foods to avoid having to go out on cold days.

Dress For Warmth

Wrapping up warmly, both indoors and out, is very important. Several layers of thin clothing, for example, a shirt or blouse, thin jersey and cardigan, will keep you warm by trapping air between them. Clothes made from wool, polyester or fleecy synthetic fibers are usually warmer. Thermal underwear can help beat the chill. For a little more guidance, check out Montem's guide on how to choose a rain jacket.

Then don't for get to wear warm, thick tights or long socks. When sitting down, a shawl around the shoulders or a blanket over the knees will provide a lot of warmth.

Dress appropriately for weather when you go out. It is easy to throw on a just a coat when you go to the marina store, only to realize on the way that it's colder than you thought. Wear layers, gloves and a hat or scarf to help prevent heat loss through your head. Warm shoes or boots with good grips are also important.

If you get wet, change into dry, new clothing as soon as you get indoors.

Keeping Your Houseboat Warm

Whatever type of heating you may have, it is important to keep both your galley and stateroom warm enough. Heat your master suite in the cold months or at least warm your bedroom at night before you go to bed. The recommended temperature is 21 degrees Celsius, but you may be more comfortable at a higher temperature. If the temperature falls below 16 degrees Celsius, the elderly especially could be at risk of suffering from hypothermia, heart attack or a stroke.

As we get older, the risk of heart attack or stroke greatly increases in cool temperatures, so it’s important to keep your houseboat warm. A warm atmosphere keeps the body temperature up, which helps to protect against the effects of the cold outside. So it’s important to keep your boat warm and to dress up warm when you go outside.

Exposing the head and face to cold air at night has been shown to increase blood pressure, so it’s best to keep all windows closed in the winter.

Last but not least, try this delicious cinnamon mint tea. It’s a good way to keep the chill away.


8 cups water
2-3 cinnamon sticks
A handful of fresh mint leaves (about 10-15 leaves)
Dash of cinnamon powder
Your favorite sweetener (like agave or stevia)

To Prepare:

Bring the water to boil in a pot. Add the cinnamon sticks and boil for another 10-15 minutes. Remove pot from heat and add the remaining ingredients. Cover and let sit for at least 5 minutes. Enjoy. You can even refrigerate and serve cold in summer if you like.

Here’s to warm houseboating adventures!

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