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Old 10-31-2007, 12:13 PM   #1
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PNW Winterizing

Being a live aboard in the Pacific Northwest requires some winterizing to make the boat more energy efficient, comfy and warmer.* The biggest improvement to the Eagle was the diesel boiler heating system which keeps the Eagle at 70 degree 24/7, nine months of the year. The second big improvement was canvas for the stern and pilot house which keeps the rain and wind off/out.* In the PNW maxing the clear plastic usually done to let in what little day light there is and also cuts down on the mold/mildew. **The third biggest is installing plex a class over the pilot house and salon windows, which keeps the rain off, reduces the draft, makes the boat quieter, and warmer.* The cheapest and easiest is a quilt my wife made to hang over the stair way between the pilot house and salon to keep the heat down in the salon, but allows enough so the pilot house is not to cold.*(Picture attached)*I also have 1 1/2 foam insulation sheets on top of the of the pilot house and salon roof to keep the cold rain off and it also helps to hold in the heat as there is 0 insulation in the roof.*

*
We have carpeted the entire boat except for the galley, which has a throw rug to help keep the floor warm as the bilge is not heated and the water is a constant 55 to 50 degrees.* Although the marina does freeze over for a couple weeks each year and the marina turns off the water, so having a 400 gallon water capacity does help which can last up to 3 weeks. Also the power has been out several time for a couple of days so having a energy efficient and low amp demand is also required.* Many newbie live a boards do not make it through the winter as not many boats are PNW winter live aboard ready.* The Eagle certainly was not when we bought her, but after about 30+ grand of improvements she is a very comfortable long range PNW live a board. **

*

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Old 10-31-2007, 02:54 PM   #2
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PNW Winterizing

Our boat spent its whole life in California until we bought it and trucked it north. So the boat was not ordered with, nor did any previous owners install, any sort of heating system at all. Not even a Red Dot. We use the boat year round, and while the average winter temperatures in this area are nothing like what you get in the midwest or northeast, we do get some chilly days. Average winter temps for this area are high 30s-low 40s during the day and high 20s-low 30s at night. We may get a couple of three or four day stretches in the winter when the day and nigh temps don't go above freezing, but that's pretty rare.

At the slip we have a couple of electric oil heaters on the boat, one in the engine room and one in the aft cabin. These are the heaters that look like little steam radiators. If it's going to be below freezing for a few days in a row, we'll put a small heater in the lazarette with the water tanks.

But none of this stuff works away from AC, so when we go cruising in the winter, we have a little portable propane heater that we use. We have a whole raft of safety procedures to keep its use safe. Someday we want to add diesel heat to the boat but other projects have taken priority over this, so we're probably several years away from this particular project. So far, the propane heater serves us okay.

We used to empty the water tanks when it started getting cold in November, but we don't do that anymore. It just doesn't get cold enough for long enough around here to warrant that, we've found. We have friends who used to own an all-steel converted fireboat. They kept it on a mooring at one of the islands, no AC hookup so no on-board heat when the boat wasn't running. It sat through freezing weather, snow, you-name-it, stone cold and they never had a problem with fresh water freezing on the boat. So we don't worry about it on our boat anymore.
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Old 11-01-2007, 10:29 PM   #3
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RE: PNW Winterizing

Marin, is your boat in a marina*under cover?* I've found that the coldest PNW temps are moderated a great deal by having the boat under cover.* If exposed, a*full boat cover can hold a great deal of heat, at least enough to keep things from generally freezing.

All this assumes that you*are not using your vessel.* Some of the best PNW cruising just started in October.* We will normally try to keep boating until the end of January, then start again in late April.* All it takes is a dependable and economical heat source.* Start saving for your diesel furnace/cabin heater now!

On the subject of heaters, and assuming you have AC power available, the glue-on*patch heaters (Wolverine, Kat's, etc.) are excellent for low level and secure heating.* I have a 250watt model on the bottom of the*main engine pan, and it is sufficient to keep all moisture from everything in the ER.* A 60 watt light bulb works good for the generator space, just enough warmth and air movement to keep things dry.

Regardless of the style of*portable AC heaters, please operate them at their lower settings.* Your oil filled heaters should have a 600 watt or similar option.*
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Old 11-02-2007, 12:06 AM   #4
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PNW Winterizing

We use our boat year round. The only thing that keeps us from going out is wind. Rain and snow we don't care about.

Our boat is not under cover. Because we drive up and use it almost every weekend of the year, either going out or staying on it over the weekend, having it under cover would be pointless. Who wants to stay on a boat in a boathouse? Nothing to look at except the inside of the boathouse. Our slip is such that we have a nice view out to the islands (except at low tide when we can't see over the breakwater).

The boat came with covers for every piece of external teak except the cabin trim strips. We put the covers on and leave them on all winter.

We used to use a light bulb as a heater in the cuddy cabin of our trailer boat (Arima) at home until a winter power surge during a windstorm made the bulb explode. I've read of similar instances with light bulbs, including at least one case I remember reading about when the bulb started a fire when it blew up. So we no longer use one in the boat. We use a pillbox heater instead.

On the GB we use two oil heaters, one in the aft cabin and one in the engine room. The engine room stays about 65 degrees. When we take the boat out in the winter, even if it's below freezing outside, the Lehmans start on the first crank.
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Old 11-02-2007, 01:19 PM   #5
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RE: PNW Winterizing

Like Marin, we use our boat throughout the winter as well. Normally, our winter winds are worse during December and January, so our season is typically mid to late February through mid to late November. Bellingham Bay, where Marin and I keep our boats, has fresh water at the surface, due to the Nooksack river delta just to the west. Even with fresh water on top, freezing is almost non-existant, with maybe one or two days of 1/16" ice on top. I do nothing to winterize whatsoever, and in eleven years with this boat have had no problems, and the boat is ready to go as soon as the scotch is on board.

I failed to mention that I do keep a little heater in the engine room, which keeps it at a minimum 45 deg. f., a dehumidifier in the v-berth, and a little ceramic disc heater down below as well, set to 55 deg. f.

-- Edited by Carey at 18:30, 2007-11-02
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Old 11-03-2007, 04:00 AM   #6
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RE: PNW Winterizing

C. Marin Faure* wrote,

"It sat through freezing weather, snow, you-name-it, stone cold and they never had a problem with fresh water freezing on the boat. So we don't worry about it on our boat anymore."

If your in Bellingham, you might want to be a little more carefull.* About four years ago, I was working on a winter long project in the Fairhaven shipyard.* One day I arrived at work to discover that almost every water line in the yard had frozen.* Even the three inch fire main on the dry dock had frozen and split in many places.* I had failed to winterize the boat I was repowering, and all the water lines had split, including one from the aft laz water tank to the engine room. Unfortunately, this ran through a fuel tank, and was split in the tank.* Fortunately, it was a pipe within a pipe, so it didnt' allow fuel and water to mix.* I ended up pushing a piece of smaller PVC through and didn't have to open the tank for welding, an expensive process.* So, I guess the point is, watch the forcasts carefully..........Arctic traveller

Trawler training and yacht charters at www.arctictraveller.com
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Old 11-03-2007, 11:38 AM   #7
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RE: PNW Winterizing

Traveller
*** ** I would agree, when you are hauled out that every precaution should be taken. However, with a little heat in the boat and the 48 degree water against the bottom, neither Marin or I have had trouble over ten years in this environment.
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Old 11-04-2007, 11:05 PM   #8
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PNW Winterizing

We usually haul out in January or February for bottom painting and other work. The yard we use has groundpower hookups for all the storage positions, so we keep heat on the boat. If it's going to be below freezing during the day as well as at night, we'll add a small heater in the lazarette where the water tanks are.

But with global warming I suspect we've seen the last of freezing temperatures up here, right?
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Old 11-07-2007, 10:22 AM   #9
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RE: PNW Winterizing

This week end I put a tarp over the front deck supported by 1 PBC pipe.* It was sunny about 40 to 50 degrees but under the blue tarp I was glowing.* )-;* Each year I cover the Eagle with canvas and tarps as much as possible to keep the cold rain/snow/sleet off, cut down the cold/chilly drafts, and help heat the boat.* When winds get above 25 mph I take it down the traps as it creates too much air draft.* Takes about 15 minutes to take down and hour to put up.* The PBC pipe is duct tapped together and the tarps held down by bungee cords so the whole thing move/sways in the wind.* When the wind gets above 40 mph, I take down the canvas so it does not get torn as we have about 6 grand of canvas, with a 6 grand insurance deductible so any damage is out of our pocket. )-;

*
The canvas, tarps, foam insulation on the roof, and plex a glass over the windows really help heat the boat, retain the heat, cut down on the drafts, and sound proof the boat the boat.* With the price of diesel continuing to increase cost for improvements are quickly paid back.* 7 years ago when we installed the Webasto it was cheaper than to heat will electricity. Today its cheaper to heat will electricity when in the 40 to 50 degrees range, but in the 30 and 20 its about the same.* The biggest draw back heating with electricity is producing high amounts of stray current.****

Luckily we do not get many days below freezing and even fewer with snow.*

*
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Old 12-13-2007, 08:14 AM   #10
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PNW Winterizing

This is our second winter on board in Connecticut. We have a Webasto diesel furnace that has worked well so far. Last year right after Thanksgiving all the boats started the shrink wrap procedure. I looked at my husband in fear and asked if we were going to have to put on the plastic. We asked and couldn't get an answer that really satisfied us. We think that it is much more important for fiberglass boats to put on the plastic. Because our boat is steel and we are well insulated, we are not dealing with the same winter problems of freezing and thawing. We did winterize the air conditioning system as well as the outside water faucets. The engine room stays warm due to the furnace. Two problems have been that the decks of the boat get very slick when ice forms.We still have to remove the snow before it turns to ice. Also we were getting a lot of condensation in the pilot house. We bought a dehumidifier and that helped a lot. We also put a small heater (oil fired) in the pilot house because of the large windows. So far so good. We put inside plastic storm windows on our three butterfly hatches. We might put inside storms on the pilot house windows but this is still under consideration. We have stainless steel portholes for the rest of the windows. We hold 350 gallons of water so this lasts 3 weeks. With a long hose we fill the tanks from the shore. Today the first big storm of the season is due to hit.
We are far from experts and enjoy reading about what others are doing.
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Old 12-13-2007, 09:08 AM   #11
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RE: PNW Winterizing

You might want to at least tarp the boat as much as possible to keep the cold rain/wind/snow in direct contact and/or off the boat.* The best tarp hold down is Tarp Grappers, which a plastic buttons that go through the tarp and push to together to grip/hold the tarp.* I also if you place the buttons about 6" above the gunnels/rail it allows the wind to flow under but still keeps most of the rain/snow off the boat.* Also use bungee cords so it gives with the wind.*

I would think*with the diesel duck configuration that a lot of heat is going up in the*pilot house and out the roof/windows,*so having something to keep the heat down in the two main living areas would help.* We find a simple quilt/blanket holds most of the heat down but still allows enough heat goes up to keep into the pilot house to keep*about 50 degrees.*If we want warm the pilot house warmer we just take the quilt off.* Many time when the sun is shining the salon is so warm even with out heat tat we have to take the quilt off and open the stern door, so make sure the sun can still shine though the widows.*
*
The dark blue canvas/tarps also absorb the sun even on cold days is warm under the canvas/tarps. *All our canvas has clear space so we can see out and let the sun in.* We enclosed the stern which keep the stern reasonable warm, enclosed the pilot house* Also covering the windows on the out side would be better than inside as again they keep the cold off the glass windows.* *All the heaters electric and diesel are on timers/set backs and also the electric water heater, but when the diesel furnace is running it heats the hot water.
*
One thing we have learned about being a live a board is conserve and appreciate the little things like being dry, warm, hot/cold running water and toilets.* Other things are a luxury.
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Old 12-13-2007, 10:15 AM   #12
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RE: PNW Winterizing

Thanks for the suggestions. I like the idea of the quilt. Last year when it got very cold we used a blanket, a smaller quilt would work nicely.
We put up a tarp over the stern seating area draping it over the boon. Well it lasted one day before it was torn from the grommets with the wind. We will check into the Tarp Grappers- and bungee cords.
I agree that conservation for all is important. We will figure out the pilot house windows. We had cut Styrofoam backed insulation material for the inside side windows, but my concern was that moisture would form and stand on the wooden window sills. Maybe putting the outside storm would be better. Thanks for your input.
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Old 12-14-2007, 04:23 AM   #13
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PNW Winterizing

For folks wanting to know WHAT NOT TO DO, (for a winter liveaboard)


the current issue of PM has many pages devoted to some Chicago Heroes that have no clue.

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Old 12-16-2007, 11:48 AM   #14
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PNW Winterizing

Talking about heat on board when away from the dock, I found a neat and easy method of heating up the main cabin quite quickly and safely if you have a propane stove. Take a red clay flower pot big enough to cover the burner and set it upside down over the burner. When the flame is lit the pot will get very hot so watch it but what it does is virtually eliminate the water vapor from the propane flame and provide a rapid heating effect on the cabin. I use a 6 inch diameter pot and hold it with the stove irons for safety but I have seen others use three light springs to hold the pot to the burner.
Used it in the mornings when we were live-aboards and even when we were cooking I kept one on a back burner at a mod heat setting as it seemed to pull the cooking odors and moist air up thru the pot and the windows did not get all steamed up anywhere near as bad as normal.
Just be sure you use a red clay pot as they are the only ones that will not crack with the heat.
Don't know if anyone else has used this but it sure worked for us.
Just remember to have a window or vent open while burning propane!!
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Old 12-16-2007, 12:29 PM   #15
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PNW Winterizing

John--- We have heard the flower pot-as-heater thing before but never tried it. Our boat was built for a California buyer and all the subsequent owners except us kept the boat in the same place-- San Francisco Bay. Consequently the boat has no heat on it, not even a Red Dot.

Diesel heat is on our list of "to do someday" items, but there are a lot of other things on that list, some of them not related to boating, so it's probably going to be a long time before we get round to this. So we use a portable propane heater. We store the cannisters outside, we never use it when we go to bed, we always turn it off and put the cannister outside whenever we leave the boat, and so on, all the precautions necessary to prevent a possible propane leak from becoming a problem.

But it's interesting to hear that the flower pot also prevents the moisture build-up on the windows. We'll have to give it a try. Thanks for the tip.
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Old 12-16-2007, 01:49 PM   #16
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PNW Winterizing

Be sure to have a good carbon monoxide detector on board if you're going to heat with an open flame! An open window is better than nothing, but you're still generating CO, and it can kill you.

Here's the only CO detector I can recommend:
http://www.aeromedix.com/product-exe...rts_Model_2004

-- Edited by Keith at 14:51, 2007-12-16
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Old 12-16-2007, 02:36 PM   #17
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RE: PNW Winterizing

When we first bought the boat we were poor.* )-; and what I installed and used 24/7 for 3 years to heat the salon was a propane CAT catalytic heater that was vented to the out side, and thermostat controller which cost about 500 bucks.* We have/had 2 propane and 3 CO alarms on the boat. **Also I installed 3 electric Pic A Watt heaters tset for 1000 watts, 8 amps, that we still use in the spring/fall.* I just bought the domestic heats at Lows which have last for like 11 years.* Oh, I am still cheap and poor.* (-;
* ***
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Old 12-18-2007, 12:30 AM   #18
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PNW Winterizing

John---

Question on the flower pot deal. You said it has to be a red clay pot. My wife wants to know if a small pot just large enough to fit around the burner is better, of if a larger pot is better? Also, does it need to be any special kind of clay pot? Glazed, fired? (I don't know squat about pots or pottery). Thanks.
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Old 12-18-2007, 04:56 AM   #19
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PNW Winterizing

Unglazed. It's already fired, otherwise it would be a lump of wet clay! If you're really going to do this, heed the CO warnings... we don't want to hear of your bodies being found on the boat with the stove going. It should sit on the burner grill... the flame needs oxygen. If you sit a pot over the entire assembly, you could get a nasty yellow sooty flame and even MORE CO.
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Old 12-18-2007, 11:05 AM   #20
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PNW Winterizing

Keith---

Thanks for the info. We've been using a portable propane heater on our boat for the last seven years when we go out in the winter and so far have managed not to kill ourselves or the dog We only use it during the day or in the evening, never when we go to bed, and never leave it on or even inside the boat when we go ashore. We have a window opened a bit when it's on. Plus this particular heater has a sensor on it that's supposed to shut off the propane if the oxygen content of the air gets too low although we have no faith in this and assume it won't work. The only reason we're interested in the flower pot thing is the comment that it prevents moisture buildup on the windows.
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