Boat Life,  Dock Life,  Shrink Wrap,  Winter

Living in a Bubble

Night BoatIf you would have asked me a couple of years ago what I would have thought of living in a giant bubble – I would have told you how I though It would be horrible, claustrophobic and confining. But today as I look out through my semi-transparent windows into a wavy kind of smoky world, I can tell you I love it. You have the illusion of privacy while still looking out over the whole marina able to see (sort of) and what you can’t see your mind kind of fills in the blanks.

The boy and I have had grand times playing soccer on the back deck all within the safety and warmth of the bubble. During the day the inside of the boat heats up when the sun is shinning sometimes to where it is too hot. It acts like a greenhouse and traps the warm sun rays inside. Although I have recounted the several times that Ive worried about losing the bubble during wind storms, watching the rain and freezing rain bounce off the outside of the bubble makes one thankful to not only be inside but still have dry decks.

Many of the boats around the marina strung Christmas lights up inside their bubbles making everything very festive. Of course, many of us will leave our lights up till spring although it likely won’t bother the neighbours like on a street somewhere in the ´burbs.

The picture here is my neighbour down the dock who is also in a River Queen with his Christmas lights merrily lighting up the sky at night. That is a peaceful scene!


  • Paul

    Hello. Exactly how did you create the bubble around your vessel? Interesting. Does your boat work or is it just for winter time to insulate inside? I’m living aboard in hawaii so no winters here. this is my second time living on a boat but this time I’m actually going to fix one up and go some where (i hope funds permitting).


  • strathy

    I guess I should explain this a bit…

    For the winter here, most live aboards build a framework of wood or metal, then wrap the boat in plastic. The plastic is special in that it shrinks when heated. So when we are done wrapping the boat in plastic it looks like a big greenhouse. Then we apply heat from a propane torch and the plastic shrinks up to the frame that we’ve built pulling everything in tight and holding everything in place. This ‘bubble’ protects us from much of the winter weather and keeps the snow off the deck. It also makes a great storage area for all our junk which is why so many of us leave the plastic up way too long into the summer – it’s easier to leave it up than clean up the junk!

    We do not operate the boat in the winter – the engines have been winterized to withstand the freezing temps. For most of the winter we are locked into the ice anyway and could not go anywhere if we wanted to.

  • Boat Slips

    That’s awesome. I never knew live aboards did such things. And to even have Christmas lights!
    I would love to “live in a bubble” for at least one winter to experience it.

  • Silvana

    Hello, we live in mississauga and are contemplating moving into a boat. Thank goodness for you folks, we have had alot of our questions answered. Like anyone else winter is what we worry about and I have 2 questions …1) Where can you purchase this shrink wrap and 2) How do you enter and exit the boat when the shrink wrap is in place?

  • strathy

    Hello and thanks for your question! Shrink wrap is available from a number of local guys who will also install it for you. However, this is usually quite expensive. If you end up in the Mississauga area, you will certainly have lots of us here who have been wrapping our own boats for years who can help you with advice and also with pulling the plastic over the frame when the time comes. I can direct you to a local guy who will supply it to you if you would like to do it yourself. If you do it yourself the cost of the plastic is usually somewhere around $3/foot and comes 36′ wide if I remember correctly. My boat (40′) took 57′ of plastic last year so it cost me approx $160.00. I made my own frame and did my own shrinking.

    In and out? We install a shrink wrapped door with a finger latch…. Simple, but it works.

  • Kat

    We are in Port Credit and are living on our boat this year. This will be our first winter. What advise do you have about building the frame? Thanks

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