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Old 29-10-2009, 11:57   #1
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pirate Winterizing a Liveaboard

This is going to be my first winter as a liveaboard. I bought Floating Bear in July, I'm still in love it it. I would like to thank everyone on this forum for helping me make a good decision.

Now to my point. I will be living on my boat for the winter in Washington DC, it normally doesn't get real cold here, but then again I'm from Michigan. The boat is going to stay in the water, until I take it out in the spring for some new bottom paint. I don't plan on being gone for more than a couple of days, no vacations planned. The marina has bubblers in the water to help the water from freezing around the boats. My question is what systems should I winterize? Obviously I have to switch from a hose to hauling my own water, but do I have to or should I winterize the heads and shower? The water heater? Or, the engines? I've heard from a couple people in the marina, that all I have to do is put two space heaters in the engine room and they will be fine.

Any thoughts from the long time liveaboards? What kinds of things should I expect from living on water than land during the winter.
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Old 30-10-2009, 21:15   #2
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Block heaters for the Main Engines and gensets (if you can fit them to gensets)
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Old 05-11-2009, 03:48   #3
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I may need to know this also. It is possible I will purchase my boat this winter, since fall is rapidly ending. I am in the same region so any more help for Sea Ghost will be help for me.
Do live aboards in Boston all shrink wrap their boats in the winter. Is it necessary in MD, DC area?
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Old 05-11-2009, 04:27   #4
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Originally Posted by sqrtof2 View Post
I may need to know this also. It is possible I will purchase my boat this winter, since fall is rapidly ending. I am in the same region so any more help for Sea Ghost will be help for me.
Do live aboards in Boston all shrink wrap their boats in the winter. Is it necessary in MD, DC area?
So perhaps some back-up heat makes sense.

Keep some AF available in case you need to do more in a hurry.

Winterize any deck shower or anchor wash-down.

I flush with weak AF, since the blackwater tank is not in a heated compartment.

Don't leave all of the space heaters on when you are at work; most are NOT rated for unattended operation.

Make sure you have a good way to get on and off the boat. This sounds simple, but even a small hop is treacherous when the boat or dock has a glaze of ice or frost, which is VERY frequent around here.


(I do not live-aboard, but I do sail all year in Deale, MD, including some local cruising in the winter)
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Old 05-11-2009, 05:00   #5
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Buy big fluffy socks and things for your ears.




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I think thats all. (Can you tell I am from Australia?)



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Old 05-11-2009, 06:04   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sea Ghost View Post
This is going to be my first winter as a liveaboard. I bought Floating Bear in July, I'm still in love it it. I would like to thank everyone on this forum for helping me make a good decision.

Now to my point. I will be living on my boat for the winter in Washington DC, it normally doesn't get real cold here, but then again I'm from Michigan. The boat is going to stay in the water, until I take it out in the spring for some new bottom paint. I don't plan on being gone for more than a couple of days, no vacations planned. The marina has bubblers in the water to help the water from freezing around the boats. My question is what systems should I winterize? Obviously I have to switch from a hose to hauling my own water, but do I have to or should I winterize the heads and shower? The water heater? Or, the engines? I've heard from a couple people in the marina, that all I have to do is put two space heaters in the engine room and they will be fine.

Any thoughts from the long time liveaboards? What kinds of things should I expect from living on water than land during the winter.
I'm heading into my third liveaboard winter near Annapolis, so I might have some insights.

You don't have to winterize the engine as long as you have a provision to keep the engine box warm. The first winter I put a heater in the compartment on a thermostat set for 32, so it only ran when necessary. That worked fine. But last year I went away for a week and didn't like the idea of electric heaters running while I was not there. So, I winterized the engine. Fine.

My big mistake was to leave the boat for the only week of the year that saw a hard freeze (pure coincidence) and I didn't winterize the water system. What resulted was a broken water pump. Normally, the water system is not a concern if there's heat in the boat, so unless you leave it, as I did, you should be OK. Next time I would (seriously) put Vodka in the system -- easy (and fun!) to flush out of the system, and safe (as long as you're not driving! ).

Use large bubble wrap on the inside of the ports, windows and hatches. It helps by heating up the air bubbles and reduces heat loss by quite a bit. Also, here's one no one ever told me about: Insulate a keel-stepped mast. Otherwise, it conducts a lot of heat out of the boat. You can use some of the silver "water heater insulation" available at Home Depot. It ends up looking like a Christmas tree of sorts, so we just wrap it in lights and tensil and call it a day (seriously).

Get a propane heater with a low-O2 kill switch. Just for backup. Marinas lose power sometimes -- ours typically once a winter, almost always on one of the coldest days.

Agree with Thinwater about not leaving the space heaters on unattended. Before my wife was living aboard, I put them all on timers to go off when I left for work and come on a half hour or so before I arrived. Worked great.
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Old 05-11-2009, 15:00   #7
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Buy big fluffy socks and things for your ears.

Drink rum

And use Vodka as Antifreeze.

No wonder I have always wanted to live in Australia.If I come now I won't have to worry about winterizing!

But you gotta love that Yankee Ingenuity
And I plan on Deale being my home port, so the conditions you speak of will be identical to mine.
Thanks everyone!
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Old 14-11-2009, 20:16   #8
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We liveaboard for the past five years in Canada,
we winterize our engine
add extra insulation to cabin top and decks
make a little house over the cockpit ( you will need this dry space)
our black water tank is in operation, but the pump out is not....at least not at the latest marina
our water system has not proven to be a problem
we have a heater independent of electric shore connection
we have a shovel
you must arrange an 'easy' way to get off the boat ( falling in water could be fatal in winter)
add a runner (carpet) to the cabin sole (this makes a world of difference)
fans to make certain heat is pushed down
adequate fresh air ( essential in combating condensation)
This may not be a comprehensive list, but it is a beginning. Oh by the way this year we are fleeing winter and on our way to the bahamas, plan to head out from Beaufort NC tomorrow morning, taking an off shore jaunt for a day or so. cuts down on our motoring.
Cheers and have fun, we found the first year the most challenging after that we had a better idea of what worked for us
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Old 14-11-2009, 20:41   #9
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Regarding the water hose: In some marinas where there are more than a couple liveaboards, people will establish a given time, such as Saturdays from 1400-1600, where a communal hose will be brought out and then used to fill everyone's tanks. Then it goes back indoors for another week.

(Don't ask me how I know this, living in Sausalito. Let's just say that my boats haven't always been in frost-free marinas.)
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Old 15-11-2009, 06:05   #10
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We have found that the use of a heating blanked for the bed a great thing. Insulating the mast was one I never thought of and a great one, will be insulating that one today as winters here in Newfoundland are always cold and windy, thanks for the heads up Sneuman.
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Old 18-11-2009, 10:24   #11
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I don't know how Gangplank is set up re water and pumpout, or how your boat is set up re location of tanks, lines, etc. My boat is in water year round at Capitol Yacht Club, adjacent to Gangplank. Contact me off line and we can talk.
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Old 18-11-2009, 19:29   #12
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I would certainly winterize the engine and any systems not being used regularly. If the power goes out for a night and the temp drops too low you may crack the block or the water system. For the cost of a jug of antifreeze, why not make sure that an expensive engine repair ISN'T in the cards?

I spent one winter living aboard a 26 foot boat which was single skinned with no insulation other than the balsa core in the deck and coachroof. I never bothered to put up a greenhouse, because I was sailing all thru the winter whenever there was no ice to keep me penned in.

However, it makes life much more comfortable to build the green house. Easy to do, use 2x2 material and heavy mil plastic. Staple it in place with thin battens over the plastic to prevent it tearing. It keeps snow off the deck for a start and traps what little warmth you get from the sun. It also allows you to get out of the cabin and read or relax in the cockpit on a sunny day. When building the greenhouse don't make the mistake of putting in a small door. You will be all bundled up in winter and not nearly as nimble as you are in summer, So make it big.
Put up a coat rack across the back of the cockpit. Leave your heavy gear out there. Any snow on it will not melt so it won't get wet.

If you have no insulation in the hull, It would be worth checking out whats involved in making a boat blanket with heavy mil plastic and fibreglas batts. Wrap it around the outside of the boats hull and tie it in place. This will keep the heat in and cut down on condensation. ( it was like living under niagara falls when my lady came down and stayed the night. Water dripping all over the place)

Try to get some form of heat other than a electric heater. A vented heating system will draw moisture out of the cabin as it heats you up. Have a good number of fans to circulate the warmth. electric heaters are not built to run constantly. they burn out. I fried 7 of them that winter. If you have alcohol cooking, go buy a hot plate. The moisture from the alcohol is unbelievable to see, plus it takes longer to cook your dinner.

If you don't have some sort of mattress springing, grab some 2x2s and make up a raised lattice work for your mattress. Locker tops tend to become damp from body moisture and you will get mold very easily.

Other than that, enjoy yourself. Its very peaceful on the water when there are not so many people about.

Sabre
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Old 18-11-2009, 20:21   #13
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electric heaters are not built to run constantly. they burn out. I fried 7 of them that winter.
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I wasn't living in my boat last winter or the winter before, but I kept heat on in the boat (it was on the hard). The first winter I think I went through 5 electric heaters, then I went to electric ceramic heaters and they have been going strong ever since.

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Old 19-11-2009, 08:39   #14
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I would certainly winterize the engine and any systems not being used regularly. If the power goes out for a night and the temp drops too low you may crack the block or the water system. For the cost of a jug of antifreeze, why not make sure that an expensive engine repair ISN'T in the cards?

I spent one winter living aboard a 26 foot boat which was single skinned with no insulation other than the balsa core in the deck and coachroof. I never bothered to put up a greenhouse, because I was sailing all thru the winter whenever there was no ice to keep me penned in.

However, it makes life much more comfortable to build the green house. Easy to do, use 2x2 material and heavy mil plastic. Staple it in place with thin battens over the plastic to prevent it tearing. It keeps snow off the deck for a start and traps what little warmth you get from the sun. It also allows you to get out of the cabin and read or relax in the cockpit on a sunny day. When building the greenhouse don't make the mistake of putting in a small door. You will be all bundled up in winter and not nearly as nimble as you are in summer, So make it big.
Put up a coat rack across the back of the cockpit. Leave your heavy gear out there. Any snow on it will not melt so it won't get wet.

If you have no insulation in the hull, It would be worth checking out whats involved in making a boat blanket with heavy mil plastic and fibreglas batts. Wrap it around the outside of the boats hull and tie it in place. This will keep the heat in and cut down on condensation. ( it was like living under niagara falls when my lady came down and stayed the night. Water dripping all over the place)

Try to get some form of heat other than a electric heater. A vented heating system will draw moisture out of the cabin as it heats you up. Have a good number of fans to circulate the warmth. electric heaters are not built to run constantly. they burn out. I fried 7 of them that winter. If you have alcohol cooking, go buy a hot plate. The moisture from the alcohol is unbelievable to see, plus it takes longer to cook your dinner.

If you don't have some sort of mattress springing, grab some 2x2s and make up a raised lattice work for your mattress. Locker tops tend to become damp from body moisture and you will get mold very easily.

Other than that, enjoy yourself. Its very peaceful on the water when there are not so many people about.

Sabre
I think you're right about winterizing the engine. The first year that I didn't do it, it made me nervous the whole time. Better safe.
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Old 19-11-2009, 10:47   #15
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The guy who taught my radio course was living aboard in Toronto harbour (at Quay West Marina, I think). One trick he mentioned was to get a bunch of big Baggies and seal any clothing in those to make sure they stayed dry. He too said condensation was a bitch.

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