So said Samuel Taylor Coleridge in Rime of the Ancient Mariner, of a ship sweltering in the heat of the doldrums. That’s not the issue here today. It’s pretty unusual for temperatures to be below zero on Cape Cod. But they are. And it’s been bitter cold for weeks. As a consequence, the harbor is frozen across. From my scouting yesterday, I believe one could safely walk to Grand Island, though I won’t try it. This picture below is looking southeast to the island from near the bottom of our hill.

The hot air heating and the fireplace in the Cocktail Room (plus the heat pump in the Guest House) have been working hard to keep up. (The problem is exacerbated by some remaining punch list items. The storm inserts for our doors were never painted and so screens are still in place. Additionally, the old doors could use weather stripping.) As a consequence of weather and heating, it’s super dry in the house, 13% at the moment. We’ve considered a dehumidifier for the system, but Cape Code being Cape Cod, a humidifier has never even been on the radar.

The pic above is looking up at Laughing Gull Hill from the frozen harbor.

We first noticed board shrinkage in the Cocktail Room. Bare wood is showing between the painted strakes of shiplap. As you look around the house, you see similar effects on kitchen cabinets, where you also find the latches not closing properly on shrunken doors. Floor boards too are noticeably gapped. And, even outside, the screen/storm doors have shrunk and cracked in places.


Water pipes have been a concern for everyone, of course, so I was mildly alarmed when Beth mentioned that the faucet for sink in the Guest House was not operating. Modern plumbing seems to favor plastic piping the flexes and is not prone to cracking when iced, so I wasn’t too worried, but did quickly investigate. I stuck my head in and when I turned the under-sink valves, immediately water started to flow. (Who turned them off remains a mystery.) That was when my head got wet. An 1/8 inch gap had opened in the glued-up seam at the bottom of the wooden sink. So, maybe back to the drawing board on that one.

It should be above freezing most of the week. We will see how the remainder of the winter goes before making a decision on a humidity management equipment; could be this is an anomaly. This all reminds me of the old Steven Wright joke:

“For my birthday I got a humidifier and a de-humidifier…I put them in the same room and let them fight it out.”


One thought on ““Water, water, everywhere, And all the boards did shrink”

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