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Old 18-10-2019, 21:01   #1
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Anyone living on board in cold weather climate?

I am in the market for a L450 and plan to live on board for the next year in the SF Bay Area (that gets foggy and chilly) and then move up to the Pacific Northwest (that gets outright cold). Am I on a fool’s errand? Can a cat, and the L450 specifically, be a good live aboard home where it is cold and wet?

This cat won’t see hot weather for at least 3-4 years. I haven't seen anyone cruising or living on board a cat in the PNW during the cold season. Can it be done?

Even with good heating I fear the condensation will make it into a mold infested mistake.

Appreciate your thoughts and experience!

Edit: Still navigating this forum... After posting I was suggested some good cold weather threads that didn’t turn up on search.

I should also say that Seattle, where I currently live, has a big live aboard houseboat community, but not a single catamaran. Possibly for a good reason...
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Old 18-10-2019, 21:30   #2
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Re: Anyone living on board in cold weather climate?

Living onboard in Toronto most winters since 94' I've never understood the "condensation" thing. With proper insulation and ventilation we have to run a humidifier all winter and struggle to keep it up to 44%
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Old 18-10-2019, 21:39   #3
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Re: Anyone living on board in cold weather climate?

I will let you know in Spring when I uncover my boat. It currently has a dehumidifier and a heater inside set to 8c. Hopefully that will keep the damp out.

The big problem could be all the rain we get, it gets into places no matter what you do, unless you cover it completely.

I imagine a liveaboard would be much the same on the Wet Coast, if you kept the demumidifier and heater running, kept the door closed, it should stay dry.
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Old 18-10-2019, 22:12   #4
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Re: Anyone living on board in cold weather climate?

I lived aboard and sailed all year for 5 years in Victoria BC, and I didn't see many cats at all - but I think that's because a lot of the marinas (at least on the Canada side) aren't really equipped to deal with cats.

I have a mono so can't give you multi-specific advice but here is some general stuff

I managed fine with a decent smallish dehumidifier and a single space heater I ran. Dehumidification is more important than heat - I used to just wear thick socks and use a nice thick blanket in the evenings if it got too cold and at night I'd go to bed with hot water bottles (I didn't want to leave a space heater on overnight), but if it's damp inside it'll be MISERABLE. So that's the most important thing. The newish electric desiccant ones are great because they are small and a lot quieter than the compressor type, while still pulling a ton of water out.

If you are away from the dock you'll need a diesel heater, as you won't be able to run the electric heater or the dehumidifier. I have a drip type (dickinson newport) but it may not put out enough heat to use on a cat, so you'll maybe have to get a forced air type. Those are great, but expensive and also tend to break down a fair amount.

Good luck! It's a bit tough at times esp with the short days but it's hard to beat coming into a small, snug wooden space lit by the warmth and light of your diesel burner, or snuggling up with a book, blanket and a mug of hot tea.

edit: also hot water bottles aren't used much by people anymore for some reaosn but they are seriously amazing. I used to have two.
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Old 18-10-2019, 23:51   #5
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Re: Anyone living on board in cold weather climate?

How cold does it get?

We were on our Gemini catamaran in Georgia through the winder and it got down into the mid 20's some nights.

During the day, the greenhouse effect warmed it nicely but at night the heater really struggled to keep up.

Interestingly monohull friends didn't get as cold at night but didn't warm up as much during the day. We figured it was that our main floor had outside air passing under it allowing for additional cooling but the greenhouse effect warmed it up quicker during the day.

Yes, condensation is a real issue though a dehumidifier can help dramatically. If you aren't getting condensation, it probably means, the boat is sealed up so tight, you aren't getting a lot of fresh air.
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Old 19-10-2019, 02:35   #6
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Re: Anyone living on board in cold weather climate?

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Håkan.
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Old 19-10-2019, 03:58   #7
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Re: Anyone living on board in cold weather climate?

i could not think of a worse design of boat for a cold climate than a lagoon,these boats have zero insulation built in to the hulls and decks.
the water tanks on the bridge deck would also freeze in cold weather,being external to the accomodation,couple that with the large area of windows in the deck house that are not in any way thermally insulated,would ensure a green house effect during the daylight hours inside causing severe condensation problems.

if you must have a catamaran then i would suggest a custom or production"fully cored"hull and deck vessel with all windows double or triple glazed to provide thermal insulation integrity throughout,couple that with a hydronic system of radiators in the hulls to ensure even heat distribution inside and you have a vessel fit for purpose.
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Old 19-10-2019, 04:26   #8
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Re: Anyone living on board in cold weather climate?

The best way to heat is a diesel stove/heater. You already have the fuel onboard. My inside humidity usually runs about 35-40% even when it's raining. The stove is constantly drawing air (and water) out of the boat. I winter in coastal Oregon and have no problem with moisture building in the boat.
Without something like a stove, you have to vent and replace the heat. Otherwise all the water from cooking, showers, and breathing stays in the boat.
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Old 19-10-2019, 09:54   #9
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Re: Anyone living on board in cold weather climate?

If you consider the amount of surface area for a given interior volume, it is easy to see why people do not live aboard cats in cold weather.
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Old 19-10-2019, 10:07   #10
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Re: Anyone living on board in cold weather climate?

Check out SV Basik, they've been living aboard and rebuilding a 45 ft catamaran on Lake Union for several years.

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Old 19-10-2019, 10:31   #11

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Re: Anyone living on board in cold weather climate?

Seafaring men live and work aboard their vessels year round all the way from Seattle to Skagway, so why do you think there would be an issue?

As far as you, yourself, is concerned, extra sweaters, woolen fisherman's trousers, extra sox, thermal underwear, etc, etc, will do the trick. As far as the vessel is concerned, you'll have more of a problem because your vessel sits on TOP OF the water, whereas working boats and most yachts sit IN the water.

All the way from Seattle to the top of Vancouver Island the water temperature inshore and a coupla feet down where most of our hull have most their accommodation, the water temperature is about 46ºF all winter long, so that is the temperature the interior of the hull will have unless YOU heat it.

You WILL have to heat it if you are gonna live aboard, and because of that you will have to ventilate it to get rid of the resultant ondensation. And because you have to ventilate it, the living spaces will drop to ambient AIR temperature. which causes ore condensation which you will have to eliminate by venting and heating some more. Now you got yourself a nice oozly-woozly bird, so best to keep YOURSELF warm, and let the boat stay cold!

I am with others who have suggested above that catamarans cannot meet the requirements for comfortable day-to-day LIVING in northern climes. They do have their place, but it is NOT, IMO, on the Wet Coast of Canada.

Here is a link to the firm that for 80 years and more has furnished stoves to serious vessels on this coast. If you'd want to be able to sit about in your shirtsleeves and to sleep in yer regular shoreside jammies, one of Dickinson's diesel stoves will do the job for you. It's in the nature of these beasts that they also take care of the required ventilation for you.

Stay warm :-)!

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Old 19-10-2019, 11:22   #12
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Re: Anyone living on board in cold weather climate?

My 46' trimaran is dry and cosy with a Taylors diesel heater running at its lowest setting,vented on deck but it is of foam sandwich construction.
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Old 19-10-2019, 11:23   #13
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Re: Anyone living on board in cold weather climate?

I love catamarans and multihulls in general. I also love the PNW, where I've lived for 40+ years. But, the thought of living aboard a cat in the PNW, in the winter? Spare me!

Simply breathing on board adds a surprising amount of humidity to an enclosed space. Want some coffee or tea? Take a shower? Make some pasta? Warm some soup? Lots of humidity that you must now get out of the boat -- all of the boat! Every metal fitting that's attached to the cold fiberglass and is exposed to interior air/humidity will be dripping with condensation during the colder days. Dripping all through the boat, in both areas you can see (like the inside of your clothing lockers -- nothing quite like a cold, wet sweater!) and those you can't (like electrical and instrument panels). Keep in mind that your propane cooktop and oven also add humidity to your indoor air!

Also, and not to be minimized, is that this a perfect environment to grow mold. Mold loves warm, moist, and dark. Black mold (the very bad kind) loves 70F, humidity at 55% or higher, dark, and restricted air movement.

Not that it can't be done, but as TrentePieds suggests, you will be spending a lot of time, effort and money keeping the boat warm and dry, simultaneously. You'll need to constantly exchange air -- especially in the more restricted areas, the dehumidifiers will be running almost constantly, as will the heaters, regardless of whether you use electricity off the dock or diesel.

So, if you're going to do it, then be prepared to take on all those factors.

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Old 19-10-2019, 11:47   #14
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Re: Anyone living on board in cold weather climate?

Maybe it is worth analyzing the trade offs for all your needs, wants, and desires of a Moody 54 DS or another model of mono with big pilot house or a center cock pit that can be easily, tightly enclosed versus the L450.
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Old 19-10-2019, 14:01   #15
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Re: Anyone living on board in cold weather climate?

When we owned a Manta catamaran we wintered over a couple times in areas cold enough to get snow on the deck and a skim of ice on the water we floated in.
I used double sided tape to install a plastic film over the large plastic windows, like you see in any cold weather area for house windows.
We also purchased some of the foam/foil sheet insulation and tucked that around our bunk, against the hull sides to help with insulation at night.
We also had two Espar diesel fired forced air heaters, one installed in the engine compartment in each hull to heat the sleeping areas and heads, with a duct from one side blowing warm air on our feet at the galley and from the other side blowing heat on our feet under the dinette table.
We were warm and dry.
The Manta is a foam cored hull and deck.
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cold weather, condensation, PNW, weather, winter cruising

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