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Old 08-02-2007, 20:32   #1
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Liveaboard Winter

I'm interested in hearing from liveaboards in colder climates (as in snow) about how they cope with the winter.

1. Do you stay in the water or lift out?
2. How do you heat the boat?
3. If you're in the water, do you shovel the dock?
4. Ever "slip" into ice-cold water?
5. Do you take some measure to insulate the boat?
6. Do people think you're insane?
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Old 08-02-2007, 21:06   #2
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" 1. Do you stay in the water or lift out?
2. How do you heat the boat?
3. If you're in the water, do you shovel the dock?
4. Ever "slip" into ice-cold water?
5. Do you take some measure to insulate the boat?
6. Do people think you're insane?"

Interesting thoughts from one in sunny and hot Bangkok! You planning to move?

Here's my experience with 17 years liveaboard in cold winter climate.

1. Stayed in the water. When there was ice, used ice eater to protect boat.
2. Tried various schemes. Best were: (1) electricity; and (2) diesel furnace.
3. Sometimes did the fingerpiers on each side of boat. The marina usually shoveled the docks.
4. Nope. But two folks on my dock did. I pulled one out...she made it. A few years later a guy slipped in. He didn't make it. Both had been drinking heavily.
5. My boat was a houseboat with big windows, poorly insulated. I used a plastic shrink window material to create "storm windows". These helped a lot. When we had snow, the snow on the decks provided pretty good insulation :-)
6. Some do. Most don't. Lots of envious folks.

Bill
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Old 08-02-2007, 21:33   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sneuman
1. Do you stay in the water or lift out?
Stay in the water. I see no advantage to hauling out, but many disadvantages. It costs more, it's inconvenient to get in/out of the boat, no access to shore power, etc.

Quote:
2. How do you heat the boat?
There is a whole thread about heating the boat that covers it more extensively than I can write here.
Best heater for use during winter?

Quote:
3. If you're in the water, do you shovel the dock?
One marina I used to live at would plow snow off the main dock and I would clear part of the finger pier. Here, I haven't had enough snow to worry about. If necessary, I would clear the finger pier. I wouldn't expect to need to clear the main pier for safety because it is so wide.

b.t.w. I found that the plastic oars that come with a Sevylor inflatable boat are excellent snowshovels for use on deck. The plastic doesn't scratch the boat, and the slight curve pushes the snow to one side. They work ok on wooden docks too. Concrete tears up the oars very quickly.

Quote:
4. Ever "slip" into ice-cold water?
No. I had a neighbor who did once. The divers didn't find his body for about a week, but we knew where he went because of the hole in the ice. But his real problem was more alcoholism than hypothermia. This was not the first time he went in -- just the first time in the winter, and it happened that nobody was around.

I am especially careful, though. Just falling into ice water can give you a heart attack.

Quote:
5. Do you take some measure to insulate the boat?
Good question -- right now, it is 19 F (about -7 C) outside.

It isn't really practical to fully insulate my boat. I taped a layer of thin plastic insulation in the back of a few cabinets. It keeps condensation from getting on clothes in the hanging locker, though I don't expect it really does much to reduce heating costs.

I've taped some of the same insulation around the head of the bed where the wall has been pretty cold lately. It helps in the immediate area.

Quote:
6. Do people think you're insane?
Yes. Oh, you mean in the winter. As far as I can tell, it is not any more so than in the summer. At the last marina, there was quite a substantial liveaboard community, even in the winter.
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Old 08-02-2007, 22:13   #4
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Great responses. Thanks. And to answer your question about moving - yes, I am thinking about it and the U.S. northeast/mid-Atlantic area is a possibility.
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Old 08-02-2007, 22:50   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sneuman
I'm interested in hearing from liveaboards in colder climates (as in snow) about how they cope with the winter.

1. Do you stay in the water or lift out?
2. How do you heat the boat?
3. If you're in the water, do you shovel the dock?
4. Ever "slip" into ice-cold water?
5. Do you take some measure to insulate the boat?
6. Do people think you're insane?
Location: Stone's throw from AP world headquarters.

1. Stay in the water. Very few places allow you to live on the hard. (no places?)

2. Wood stove

3. Only if it's more than an inch or two.

4. No. Nobody has either winter here except a dock worker trying to launch a boat at Deep River marina one spring.

5. We insulate the large ports that run both sides of our salon and galley for the winter and cover the hatches. The dehumidifier is key.

6. Yes. I think I've proven that pretty well on this forum. Get some funny looks hopping off the boat with chainsaw and maul.... even the other liveaboards think so.
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Old 09-02-2007, 03:42   #6
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Originally Posted by sneuman
6. Do people think you're insane?
If you have married locally, she probably will
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Old 09-02-2007, 07:39   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sneuman
I'm interested in hearing from liveaboards in colder climates (as in snow) about how they cope with the winter.

1. Do you stay in the water or lift out?
2. How do you heat the boat?
3. If you're in the water, do you shovel the dock?
4. Ever "slip" into ice-cold water?
5. Do you take some measure to insulate the boat?
6. Do people think you're insane?
1. You want to be in the water even if there was a choice [which I don't think there is]. Water is warmer than air for most of the winter, acts as an isulator, also you do not want to be hauling stuff up a ladder all winter.

2. Webaso diesel forced air heat. Supliment with electric radiator as needed in forward cabin.

3. Only if there is some accumulation.

4. Once not living aboard - visiting boat in previous location. It is very dangerous and hypothermia is a real issue real fast. I was very very lucky could get myself out of water quickly as I was alone on the docks.

5. Yes insultated all hatches and ports. Also some of the lockers. DryBunk helps.

6. Not here in Baltimore or in Annapolis.
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Old 09-02-2007, 11:08   #8
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We are Live-aboards in Boston So I can give you my perspective

1. Do you stay in the water or lift out? Stay in water; I think it would be even colder out.

2. How do you heat the boat? We use an electric reverse cycle until the water gets too cold then switch in oilfilled electric radiators. Heard not so good things about Espars (break down al lot) but really good things on the ITR Hurricane diesl/electric heater

3. If you're in the water, do you shovel the dock? The Marina does that

4. Ever "slip" into ice-cold water? Once ot twice (slipped on a line with no alcohol invloved) really didn't notice it until I got out - then it was COLD

5. Do you take some measure to insulate the boat? Most people here put up clear plastic cpver over the boat supported by an EMT ot wood frame - really helps on the wind chill and creates a nice greenhouse

6. Do people think you're insane? Only some times
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Old 09-02-2007, 15:37   #9
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Live aboard in winter

I lhave lived aboard full time for most of the last 35 years year round mostly in BC waters . I stay in the water year round. I heat with an airtight stainless box type wood stove using driftwood . I dont tie to docks , but stay anchored out.
Never fell in in winter.
I have 1 1/2 inch of sprayfoam over the whole inside of the boat except the bilge. This keeps everything bone dry.
I listen to the Vancouver traffic report in the early morning then go back to sleep thinking about how the people who may think I'm insane are doing.
Brent

Quote:
Originally Posted by sneuman
I'm interested in hearing from liveaboards in colder climates (as in snow) about how they cope with the winter.

1. Do you stay in the water or lift out?
2. How do you heat the boat?
3. If you're in the water, do you shovel the dock?
4. Ever "slip" into ice-cold water?
5. Do you take some measure to insulate the boat?
6. Do people think you're insane?
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Old 09-02-2007, 21:56   #10
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I was on the hard in the cold for a month once. It was pretty miserable. I don't think most boats are configured to be living plateforms while out of the water. What do you do about your drains, toilets? How do you wash dishes? What kind of refrigeration do you have? Does it require waterflow? While we were out we had to make a trek to the dock house for our showers, we pretty much ate out most of the time. No pleasant if there is snow on the ground.

Cheers,

Keith
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Old 09-02-2007, 22:08   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sneuman
Great responses. Thanks. And to answer your question about moving - yes, I am thinking about it and the U.S. northeast/mid-Atlantic area is a possibility.
that is insane
don't do it
it has been in the negatives on and off this week
I would do a lot of things to be somewhere warmer
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Old 09-02-2007, 22:31   #12
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I lhave lived aboard full time for most of the last 35 years year round mostly in BC waters . I stay in the water year round. I heat with an airtight stainless box type wood stove using driftwood . I dont tie to docks , but stay anchored out. I have 1 1/2 inch of sprayfoam over the whole inside of the boat except the bilge. This keeps everything bone dry.
Brent

Hey Brent,

1] whats your hull made of? I am building in steel and wrestling with insulation question now. Any foam better than others?

2] What make of woodstove? I have 150 gal fuel and was figuring on pan-drip Dickenson diesel stove.

3] Doesn't driftwood burn fast? How much to heat for 24 hrs?

4] How do you find so many places to anchor for free? Is this a feature of the Pacific NW?
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Old 10-02-2007, 05:38   #13
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Originally Posted by WHIZBANG


2] What make of woodstove? I have 150 gal fuel and was figuring on pan-drip Dickenson diesel stove.

3] Doesn't driftwood burn fast? How much to heat for 24 hrs?
Helping out here with the woodstove questions:

2) Andrew of Navigator Stove Works can set you up with a wood stove that will last a lifetime. Mine's the best thing I've ever purchased for the boat and the only thing that can't really break. It's been pumping out 29,000 btus this entire winter (we're by NYC) and it hasn't cost me a cent. It's been 70-75 degrees in the boat, and being in Buffalo, I'm sure you know the weather we've been having!

Traditional Cast Iron Marine Stoves by Navigator Stove Works,Inc.

3) Driftwood doesn't burn fast if you know what to look for. Don't pick up junk wood for heating. Same rules apply as apply on land: No 2x4's, no old lobster traps, etc... Get a chainsaw and a maul and head ashore in you tender with them. Find downed hardwood trees that have drifted up on shore, then dried. Use those.

Brent spoke of having problems with his previous non-stainless stove. Mine is cast iron. I suspect the reason he had issues was precisely because he burned so much driftwood. You do want to avoid the driftwood if possible, as it releases salt and other corrosive stuff to coat the inside of the stove and chimney. This is why he's using stainless. If you get dry "land wood" for use, you won't have to worry about these issues and a cast iron stove will work fine (you need a stainless flue and smokehead though).

You also asked how much to heat for 24 hrs... the cost is nothing but the wood usage is approx 2 cuft of wood for 24 hours heating with the Little Cod wood stove. This is going all day and night. Or... put another way, I am getting 94 heating days out of a cord of wood. Some of it has to do with how well you learn to operate your stove.
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Old 10-02-2007, 08:58   #14
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Sean,

Your tip on the woodstoves (Navigator Stove Works) has created great excitement for me that goes beyond life aboard. First, though, let me answer the questions originally posed in this thread.



1. Do you stay in the water or lift out?
I live on the waters of New England's west coast, Lake Champlain. At 120 miles long, 12 miles at its widest point, and 400 feet deep, it's a gem of a waterway stretching between the states of Vermont and New York, as well as into the Canadian province of Quebec to the north. My home port, Burlington, Vermont, lies just south of the 45th parallel. Last night we saw negative four degrees F. In a word, cold.

The bitter winter temperatures combined with the thick ice that forms in the protected bays make leaving a boat in for the winter challenging. I usually haul during the Thanksgiving week in November and float again in early April.


2. How do you heat the boat?
For the past two years, I've been using a ventless propane heater, but I'm not thrilled about the moisture it produces. It requires that I keep lots of air moving through the cabin at a loss of heating efficiency.



3. If you're in the water, do you shovel the dock?
N/A.


4. Ever "slip" into ice-cold water?
I have never accidentally fallen in from Raven or my Zodiac, but I did have a cold water near death experience in my younger days. I teach a cold water rescue class annually for area kayakers to raise awareness of the single greatest cause of death for paddlers.


5. Do you take some measure to insulate the boat?
No.


6. Do people think you're insane?
Without a doubt.


Now, with a follow-up question,
"What do you do while the boat is out of the water?"

If I did not have ties to the community that make it impossible to take time away, I'd sail south and live from November 1st until May 1st on warmer waters (Chesapeake, perhaps?). Not having that option has created a dilema. What to do for the four months that Raven is on the hard? Live aboard on the hard? Too problematic for reasons to lengthy to list. Temporary rentals (four months)? Tough to come by, especially in this college town with a vacancy rate below 2%. Caretaker for local snowbirds? It seemed like a possibility, but I haven't found a suitable arrangement.


(My conceptual rendering of the winter home.)

The solution I ended up with has been named, "Gypsy Rose," and is currently in the works. Essentially, it goes like this. I have a friend who recently purchased 45 acres of land in central Vermont. She needed a place to say on the land during the summer months. I, on the other hand, needed housing for four months during the winter. We decided to build a cabin on wheels - "Gypsy Rose." We will site it on my friend's property during the summer months and then haul it the 70 miles to Burlington for the winter months where I will live on the side lot provided to the cause by a friend (fellow sailor). It is a stick-built small home that is within the limits of highway restrictions, has a composting toilet, on-demand propane hot water heater, propane stove and fridge, 12V electrical, and - here's where the Navigator stove might come in - wood heat.


(Current state of the Gypsy Rose project.)

The heating system I'd been leaning toward was propane, but I really didn't like the idea of using a nonrenewable fuel source. Wood is plentiful here, but the stoves I'd found to date would just overpower the small space of this tiny cabin. Sean, I think you've pointed me to a solution! Thanks.
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Old 10-02-2007, 13:21   #15
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That's clever thinking!
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