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Old 27-09-2019, 04:54   #91
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Re: Heating our sailboat this winter in VA - HELP!

You could also quit your jobs, throw caution to the wind, climb aboard and head south till it's so warm you are sailing and living in your shorts or bathing suits, and being forced overboard just to cool down a bit! Do that and you will not regret it! In a year or two you'll be fighting to remember what the word winter even means.....and cold, well thats how you like your beer!
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Old 27-09-2019, 05:42   #92
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Re: Heating our sailboat this winter in VA - HELP!

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You could also quit your jobs, throw caution to the wind, climb aboard and head south till it's so warm you are sailing and living in your shorts or bathing suits, and being forced overboard just to cool down a bit! Do that and you will not regret it! In a year or two you'll be fighting to remember what the word winter even means.....and cold, well thats how you like your beer!
This is definitely on my bucket list... ;-)
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Old 27-09-2019, 06:06   #93
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Re: Heating our sailboat this winter in VA - HELP!

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And this keeps you warm in long dark cold winter nights?
Guess I got on the wrong thread,
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Old 27-09-2019, 08:48   #94
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Re: Heating our sailboat this winter in VA - HELP!

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I've had two boats with the Sigmar heaters and had the associated back puff problems.

I agree with all of the above comments by mvweebles, and would add that I eventually found a smoke head that completely eliminated the back drafting problems and the re-ignition explosions are now a thing of the past.

I've had the Vacu-stack, for three winters in New York where the weather can be fierce in winter. Had a couple of noreasters at dock and actually been heeled over to about 15 degrees by cross wind. This can be difficult for down drafting and prior to installing the Vacu-stack I had had identical experiences to mvweeble with blow back and explosions.

I can recomend the Sigmar heater unreservedly with the addition of the smokehead.


Hi sailor 1924,

Interested in your recommendation. What diameter is your chimney? Seems smallest vacu stack is 6Ē? Did you make up an adapter to fit? What diameter is your chimney?

Thanks in advance.
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Old 27-09-2019, 09:08   #95
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Re: Heating our sailboat this winter in VA - HELP!

Some general stuff. Yes damp is the main worry so you need to keep the boat above freezing and warmer than outside. You do need to maintain some ventilation unless it is completely sealed with a dehumidifier. Any heater that uses a flame dumps water into the interior unless it has an outside flue so if you don't want to do a permanent install electric is the way to go. I have used electric oil radiators with good effect so provided you have enough power or can run a lead from shore this would be my recommendation for a temporary solution. For permanent solutions there is nothing to beat either a kerosene/diesel pot stove or a small wood stove if you can get one. I have a 10 inch mini log burner that runs on charcoal and it gives tons of nice dry heat, last about 6hr on a charge.
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Old 27-09-2019, 09:26   #96
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Re: Heating our sailboat this winter in VA - HELP!

Whatever you do for primary heat, get a couple of 250watt infrared heat bulbs for supplemental. Also get the large aluminum metal safety shields. (Often called “brooder lights” and used to keep chickens warm).

These are cheap and far safer than portable space heaters (assuming you clamp them securely). The bulbs will last for thousands of hours. They can be used to warm up cold corners of the boat far from your heater or when aimed in your direction make a chilly 65 degree boat seem downright cozy.

Of course, include the 250 watts in the calculated load on your shore cable.
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Old 27-09-2019, 09:32   #97
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Re: Heating our sailboat this winter in VA - HELP!

If you use electric space heaters, consider replacing the interior electric outlets you will use with the heaters with new ones from HD. Over the years, corrosion may have built up inside the outlets and could start a fire at the heater plug. This is one of the most common spots for fire.

Also, never run a 1500watt heater at full power. Use the 900-1000 watt setting. This will greatly reduce the risk of fire.
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Old 27-09-2019, 09:37   #98
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Re: Heating our sailboat this winter in VA - HELP!

If you use Reflectix you have to have an air gap between the Reflectix and the surface. Otherwise the insulating value is minimal.

If you can't figure a way to have the air gap, 3/4Ē white styrofoam sheets can be pressed directly against surfaces.
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Old 27-09-2019, 09:50   #99
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Re: Heating our sailboat this winter in VA - HELP!

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Yes damp is the main worry so you need to keep the boat above freezing and warmer than outside.

The key is to avoid condensation. That means paying attention to dew point and recognizing thermal paths. All the metal rims of ports and deadlights will be cold and humidity (water) condenses on them and drips. You can pretty well counting them to drip on things you won't be happy about, like your bed.


Three things help: insulate the outside of ports and deadlights, keep the temperature inside so the metal inside is above the dew point, and try to keep humidity under control. For that last ventilation is critical. I lived aboard many winters in the Chesapeake and one very cold Spring in Sweden, cooking and showering on board.
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Old 28-09-2019, 04:43   #100
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Re: Heating our sailboat this winter in VA - HELP!

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Hi sailor 1924,

Interested in your recommendation. What diameter is your chimney? Seems smallest vacu stack is 6Ē? Did you make up an adapter to fit? What diameter is your chimney?

Thanks in advance.
The one I have fits on a 4" diameter stove pipe. I have an imperfect memory but think I bought it from Woodland Supply or something like that. Keep looking I'm sure no adapter was needed. I found the link.

https://www.woodlanddirect.com/Vacu-...el-Chimney-Cap

Sorry I could only find a blurry picture of the cap above deck.
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Old 28-09-2019, 13:26   #101
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Re: Heating our sailboat this winter in VA - HELP!

Well, I must say this has been a PhD level fire-hose of information ... which I have very much enjoyed, being an over-educated, former life-long student. Sorry for not replying sooner, but boat problems / and non-working purchased items (including generators, and a dinghy that was WAY too long at 14 feet - what was I thinking!) have taken me away lately.

Also, once we got the gist from y'all of the requirements for Chessie area winters to properly "insulate," heat, anti-condensate and yet still sail our boat, we had a strategic re-assessment of our passage plans. This has a lot to do with the thought that we may want to sell her in the next year or two and the likely buyer would be a racing type.

As a former medical and business professional, it is ingrained in me to be constantly reassessing the return on investment, risk versus benefit, and degree to which a plan will reduce risks and achieve goals. Based on what we were reading, the "Virginia / Chessie sailing plan" was looking less and less fruitful compared to hiring a captain to take us around Hatteras and try for Florida.

Someone hit on it - put on a swimsuit and sail south ...

But then we have the small problem of the 8 foot draft -

I did not realize how much of a hindrance that was going to be - don't mind skipping the ICWW, as I want to SAIL, not motor, but based on calling many Florida Atlantic marinas, I am not hopeful that we can find a place that's available, even somewhat affordable and within our draft.

So, we are now looking at the Gulf side of Florida, and also assessing Georgia, South Carolina.

BUT!!! We have NOT given up on circling back to try some less intrusive heating option for a Chessie winter, with the thought that it is entirely possible that after sailing her for a few months we may decide we will never leave her and wish to be buried in her Viking style - I've lived long enough to know that life is full of such surprises so one must remain open.


I will end with the most heartfelt thanks I can possibly convey ... this group is just wonderful. funny, warm, intelligent, beyond all material value. I am honored to have received such wisdom and experience, really.

Joyce (and Will in the background) - I put some pics in the gallery of our project boat, some after shots to come
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Old 28-09-2019, 13:40   #102
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Re: Heating our sailboat this winter in VA - HELP!

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Based on what we were reading, the "Virginia / Chessie sailing plan" was looking less and less fruitful compared to hiring a captain to take us around Hatteras and try for Florida.

If you choose that route I hope you will let me bid.


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I did not realize how much of a hindrance that was going to be - don't mind skipping the ICWW, as I want to SAIL, not motor, but based on calling many Florida Atlantic marinas, I am not hopeful that we can find a place that's available, even somewhat affordable and within our draft.


So, we are now looking at the Gulf side of Florida, and also assessing Georgia, South Carolina.

In general the Gulf side is going to be more *ahem* interesting than the Atlantic side. Lots of room on the Atlantic. Cost and availability are the issues.



Do holler if you come to the Annapolis Boat Show. We can meet and review where you are. I might be able to rustle up a few other credible folks to contribute.
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Old 28-09-2019, 13:48   #103
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Re: Heating our sailboat this winter in VA - HELP!

For shore power heat cheapest and most effective solution will be a pair of oil filled radiator heaters in two cabins, and insulation above the water line. If you think this boat isn't going to be with you more than 2-4 years this is all I would do.

Next cheapest, bulkhead heater from Dickenson. Wood or diesel, just be sure to have vents allowing fresh air in, and several CO2 detectors in the boat, (each sleeping area + main salon). These are pretty simple to install compared to hydronic or forced air and work well in the cabin they are installed in.

If you want to spend for a top dollar permanent solution. Hurricane Hydronic heaters can't be beat. Then you have Espar, Webasto, and finally the Russian stuff.

I'm not as big a fan of forced air heat only because it can't warm your hotwater tank when on the hook. Even in the summer we run our espar hydronic for 30 minutes in the morning to have nice hot showers. They aren't too demanding on your batteries either.
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Old 30-09-2019, 07:19   #104
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Re: Heating our sailboat this winter in VA - HELP!

I used an Olympian catalytic propane heater, (no vent needed, but did have a CO2 alarm on board), an only ran it when I was on board to get me through a Boston winter. I also used electric heat, which doesn't produce any moisture like the propane heater did, but a lot more expensive to run. For moisture, insulated where I could, and then had a ready supply of the moisture absorbent desiccant containters that you can buy at the dollar store, or pay 5 to 10 times as much at the hardware or marine shop. I also put Dri-dek rubber tiles under all my cushions to keep them from the surface that moisture condenses on.
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Old 30-09-2019, 07:31   #105
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Re: Heating our sailboat this winter in VA - HELP!

Lived aboard in MD for many years. Norfolk is mild. You'll be ok.

Re: Heaters , use the radiator style 110v heaters. Keep the temp on low to mid. No more. You can run two of them on 30 amp. Way safer than space heaters in multiple ways. Use small fans to keep the dry warm air circulating. No worries about mold and mildew. It's bone dry inside. Keep one enar your engine to prevent freezes.

The best buy I ever made was an electric mattress pad, rather than an electric blanket. Heat rises. With an electric blanket you still have a cold mattress over a cold hull. With an electric mattress pad below you and a good comforter above you, you are in a warm comfy womb.


Line the walls/hulls beside your bed with pillows so that you don't roll into a cold wall at night. Stuff hatches with pillows or other insulation.

On those very few nights with a northeast/nothwest blow, you'll wear a hat, sweater, etc inside and go to bed early. I did sleep with a hat, and even a face mask on occasion.


Safe candles, in a tent style candle holder, or oil lamps, hanging, add some romantic heat.


All the above took years to figure out. You might actually enjoy this. I did after I knew how to deal.
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