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Old 18-04-2008, 13:09   #1
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Newbie wants to be cool.

This question may be really stupid, but how common is it to find air conditioning on sailboats under 40 feet? Coming from my experience with 30'+ plus sportfisherman where they are pretty commonplace, I was just trying to compare. I live in FL where mildew and mold are major problems. Any help for this trying-to-get-acquanted-with-sailboats newbie. Thanks!
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Old 18-04-2008, 13:17   #2
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Much less common than on sportfisherman/trawlers/cruisers of comparable length. Since most sailboats under 40 feet do not have a separate gen set, and since a sailboat is intended to use sail rather than power as much as possible when underway, there is absolutely no way to generate sufficient electricity to run airconditioning except when hooked up to dockside shore power. In southern climates, more and more sailboats are purchasing portable air conditioning units for use at the dock; but for the serious cruiser who likes to anchor out as much as possible, storage issues render them less than ideal on a smaller boat.

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Old 18-04-2008, 13:20   #3
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Quote:
This question may be really stupid, but how common is it to find air conditioning on sailboats under 40 feet?
In places south of PA it's common. Got to: Cruisair Air Conditioning and Heating - Dometic Corporation

There are a few other brands but this will get you seeing what types of systems are out there. On a 30 ft boat a 9,000 BTU system will work in FL. What you don't find is AC units on smaller boats that have a gen set. You need a gen set to run the AC when not plugged into the dock.
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Old 18-04-2008, 14:31   #4
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I've been doing a lot of boat shopping around Florida lately for a sailboat under 40', and I'd say that well over half had air conditioning on them already. I consider it a 'must have' for a summer liveaboard in FL. I think roughly a $2000 item if you need to add it to a boat.
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Old 18-04-2008, 14:42   #5
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I can't imagine being able to run an a/c unit on the hook without driving myself and eveyrone else in the area mad. The power draw on the batteries would be intense and the putter of the genset would be incessant.
Rarely do we find ourselves in need between hatches, windcatchers, and such.
But we don't dock, so it's a bit different.
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Old 18-04-2008, 14:56   #6
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I didn't mean to imply that it was a 'must have' at anchor. You can get a breeze then. It's when at the dock that you really need it. With >$4 a gallon diesel, I don't think it would be very cost effective to run the generator just to power the AC.
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Old 18-04-2008, 15:00   #7
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A/C on a sailboat might be nice in Florida, but it would be cooler to live onm a mooring if possible.
BTW Holding Pattern, I met you in Annapolis ( at the laundry) still working at Bacons, got stuck here for the winter
R.
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Old 18-04-2008, 15:01   #8
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Many newer cruiser class sailboats in the 30'+ range are eqipped with AC. As others have stated it generally requires shore power or a generator. The good news is that you are most likely to need/want it in a slip where presumably shore power is available. In 2 1/2 years of cruising the Bahamas/Caribbean we never realy wished that we had AC at anchor. There was a time in the Abacos when we wished we had heat. Of course, I have a true talent for finding 'breezy' anchorages.
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Old 18-04-2008, 16:07   #9
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I too am interested in the AC question. I currently live and sail in FL, but expect to start cruising in 12 months (up/down US East coast, Bahamas, Caribbean). I've been comparing the differences to an installed system (around ~$2400 cost) or a hatch mounted portable system (~$800 cost). Does anyone have any preferences? I have a space for the installed system but is it worth the cost?, However I worry about storage for the bulky hatch mounted system. I intend to anchor out or be on moorings most of the time (but have honda genset for AC power), so how much will I actually need the AC? is it worth the cost -vs-storage. My boat is catalac 9M catamaran so storage and weight are issues. Any thoughts would be appreciated.

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Old 19-04-2008, 12:25   #10
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Aloha,
Welcome aboard! Good to have you here asking questions. If this is a liveaboard situation at dockside in Florida then it probably is a good idea to look for AC units. I've never been in an area where it would be required. Here in Hawaii we don't get the same heat and humidity and usually there is a cooling tradewind. I have spent summers in Florida (West) and do know about the heat. Because I am a cheap minimalist I would not have one but that's just my opinion.
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Old 19-04-2008, 12:39   #11
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In our cruising on the Chesapeake and in the eastern Caribbean, we've only wished we had an air conditioner once--July 4th weekend in a marina with temps around 100 deg F in the daytime. The rest of the time we've been pretty comfortable with the breezes at anchor/mooring, or with our DC fans. We have ten of the little buggers mounted around the boat. We can run four in our cabin at night for less than an amp of 12 V DC. Down here in the Caribbean, there's almost always a nice breeze and the humidity is comfortable during the sailing season.
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Old 19-04-2008, 13:41   #12
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Thanks for the inputs. I think I will skip the expense and storage of the AC system for now. I'm beginning to believe a large awning for shade at anchor during the day will be enough. Besides, I have enough projects on my list in order to be ready to get underway next year.
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Old 19-04-2008, 15:23   #13
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another cheap solution is misters. you can pick up a set or fabricate your own for under $20. not to be used inside of course but they work well in the cockpit on low mist. a pump type canister bug sprayer ill work as well as the nozzle has a misting head. when empty, dunk it over the side drink for a refill.
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Old 19-04-2008, 18:10   #14
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I am impressed with all the great info and replies. I used to work at a West Marine back in my high school days, so I am familiar with the Carry-On unit. We sold a ton of those to people who had come down from cooler climates thinking they could get by without A/C. Not that you can't, as plenty have, but I guess that when you can you feel like you oughtta sometimes. The generator issue certainly makes sense, though. I am guessing that while cruising you have to be very good about not having anything in the cabin that can't handle damp air? Seems like it would be impossible to keep a dry interior in the inherently humid tropics. Also, has anybody tried replacing their berth cushions with Tempur-Pedic material? I was thinking that although expensive, it would feel really good and I would think that you could cut it to any size or shape. Just a thought. (Can you tell I'm trying to sell a girlfriend on buying a sailboat!)
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Old 20-04-2008, 19:22   #15
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Yes, we have the tempur-pedic mattresses on our cat, they are wonderful. Mold has not been a significant problem for us in two seasons in the Bahamas, but it has been a problem as we move further north and get greater temperature extremes between night and day.

We installed AC because we thought we would be living in a marina for three years in the Annap, MD area AND working in an environment that req'd suit & tie, dresses etc (and that's just for the guys )! At anchor we have only wanted AC one time - 4th of July on the Chesapeake w/no wind.
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