I have specialized expertise in boat
heaters, which means I have had a big problem in that area.
My boat is a 34-foot steel
sailboat, and I installed a Dickinson Alaska heater
. The installation
is a beautiful one (and the only one that could work
in this case). The heater is at floor-level, which is normally impossible to achieve unless your beam is 12 feet or better) and the flue is the mast
support. There is a 45-degree Y near the overhead, so that the chimney is at deck-level just ahead of the mast
. This puts the heater as low as it can be and the flue is inobtrusive, with a nice guard that serves as a first step while climbing the mast. The cabin
table hooks onto the U of the lower mast support, with the heater between the legs of the U. This means the cabin sole
is clear of obstructions apart from the U and the heater. The mast support/flue is 3 1/2" heavy-wall tubing, which gives mass to retain heat. I put holes near the top, and welded 3/4" pipe into them; using short pieces of wood
dowel, I can hang wet cloths on them, which dry in a jiffy.
I was very proud of this, and it works great in every way. But I was forced to scrap the Dickinson
because it's just too hot. Now I know that a minimum of 16,000 BTU is way, way too hot for a small boat
, and I had to leave the hatch
open when it was on, or I would begin to melt into a grease spot.
So I took the heater to the Dickinson factory in British Columbia
, and I implored them to make a model that is have the capacity of mine. They told me in clear terms they have no interest in feed-back from their customers so I was just out of luck.
Scouring the very limited market for diesel heaters, I came across the Refleks company in Alborg, Denmark
, and I bought their smallest model through a British chandler, who advertised them on the UK eBay. Overpriced as usual, I paid $1,000 for this. But it's very small and quite nice, lacking only a window to see the flame and a convenient access to light it. I believe there is a serious typo in the manual, which says to pour in 5 cc of alcohol, light it, and open the valve. It worked at first, using the little sighting hole in top, but now I understand they want 50 cc poured in, which is a lot of alcohol, and which would blow it apart unless I slide up the flue tubing and the top of the stove
and light it that way.
The capacity is 11,000 BTU at the lowest setting, which works fine for me. If you keep in mind the need to lift
up the flue to light it, it's a great alternative to being cooked out of your boat by the Dickinson. Also, the Dickinson is a pain to light, and it eventually gets messy with paper ashes; it makes having an onboard vacuum cleaner a necessity. You must time the pre-heating perfectly, which means you have to park there for five minutes until that burns off, while the Refleks seems to be a lot more forgiving about that. The larger models of the Refleks have a sight window.