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Old 24-01-2021, 18:28   #1
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Winter in Annapolis practical for liveaboards?

We are buying a 38ft sailboat and are thinking about living on the boat in Annapolis during the winter. Any advice? Any water supply issues? Is mold a concern? Emptying holding tanks? Any other concerns we need to be aware of? Are many people doing it? Thank you so much for any advice!
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Old 25-01-2021, 05:40   #2
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Re: Winter in Annapolis practical for liveaboards?

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Kelli.
Yes, people winter aboard, in Annapolis; but it's not as comfortable as (say) Ft. Lauderdale.
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Old 25-01-2021, 06:01   #3
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Re: Winter in Annapolis practical for liveaboards?

There are people who do it... Main points to solve are about fresh water, pump-outs, and heat.

Many who have best results are at marinas there they have a freshwater solution (sometimes submerged supply hoses, sometimes scheduled access, etc.), and in-slip or portable pump-out facilities or at least a working year-round pump-out boat. You can check ActiveCaptain for leads on marinas like that. (Not sure I know of any year-round pump-out boats, off-hand; maybe Annapolis, maybe not. You can check with the Harbormaster for that.)

Heat sources are all over the place. Harbors sometimes freeze, so typical reverse cycle "heat pump" systems begin to lose it at about 40F water temps. Some have added a resistance heat source to their existing ductwork, so that can take over when water temps are too low. That can works well enough sorta-kinda, but resistance electric heating is expensive. Portable heaters are another option, oil-filled maybe being more popular. Some have used diesel heat sources, but I think that's less common in this neck of the woods.

And some move ashore, short-term rental, for January and February.

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Old 25-01-2021, 09:28   #4
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Re: Winter in Annapolis practical for liveaboards?

Thank you
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Originally Posted by ranger42c View Post
There are people who do it... Main points to solve are about fresh water, pump-outs, and heat.

Many who have best results are at marinas there they have a freshwater solution (sometimes submerged supply hoses, sometimes scheduled access, etc.), and in-slip or portable pump-out facilities or at least a working year-round pump-out boat. You can check ActiveCaptain for leads on marinas like that. (Not sure I know of any year-round pump-out boats, off-hand; maybe Annapolis, maybe not. You can check with the Harbormaster for that.)

Heat sources are all over the place. Harbors sometimes freeze, so typical reverse cycle "heat pump" systems begin to lose it at about 40F water temps. Some have added a resistance heat source to their existing ductwork, so that can take over when water temps are too low. That can works well enough sorta-kinda, but resistance electric heating is expensive. Portable heaters are another option, oil-filled maybe being more popular. Some have used diesel heat sources, but I think that's less common in this neck of the woods.

And some move ashore, short-term rental, for January and February.

-Chris
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Old 25-01-2021, 09:29   #5
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Re: Winter in Annapolis practical for liveaboards?

Thank you
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Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Kelli.
Yes, people winter aboard, in Annapolis; but it's not as comfortable as (say) Ft. Lauderdale.
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Old 25-01-2021, 09:32   #6
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Re: Winter in Annapolis practical for liveaboards?

I was wondering if an electric / oil filled heat source alone would cause any moisture or mold problems?
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Old 25-01-2021, 09:41   #7
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Re: Winter in Annapolis practical for liveaboards?

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Originally Posted by kevinhegeman View Post
I was wondering if an electric / oil filled heat source alone would cause any moisture or mold problems?

I would think that any heating would drive down moisture and thus mold. Not sure it depends on how you heat. For me the choice comes down to what can I accomomodate on my boat and which is safest.
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Old 25-01-2021, 10:12   #8
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Re: Winter in Annapolis practical for liveaboards?

There is a live aboard on my dock in Annapolis. He told me he winterizes his fresh water system and just brings water aboard (water is cut off at the dock). He showers in the bath house year round.

The Annapolis pump-out boat is year round. The off season schedule is Saturday only (weather permitting).
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Old 25-01-2021, 10:14   #9
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Re: Winter in Annapolis practical for liveaboards?

Thank you
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Old 25-01-2021, 10:42   #10
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Re: Winter in Annapolis practical for liveaboards?

I lived onboard in Annapolis during a cold and blizzardy season and had not problems. I would use an electrical heater to take the chill off at night before bed, turned it off and had heavy blankets on the cot. I slept warmly enough, but moisture would move out to the edge of the blankets where it froze to the hull. I had to roll back and forth a little to break it free. I winterized the water and used the facilities in the marina for bathroom and shower.
There were a lot of people living onboard even in some small (20 ft) boats.
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Old 25-01-2021, 10:53   #11
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Re: Winter in Annapolis practical for liveaboards?

We lived onboard in NYC for two winters and really enjoyed it. Had a diesel furnace that we used half kerosene and half diesel in. Very toasty and dry. The only problem with dampness was condensation on hatches. Fixed this with rigid foam insulation taped inside. Put shrink wrap over the cockpit which gave us another room on sunny days and a place to remove boots on wet days. Would be happy to do it again.
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Old 25-01-2021, 11:20   #12
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Re: Winter in Annapolis practical for liveaboards?

I lived abroad in Solomons, Maryland one winter which is maybe 50 miles south Annapolis.
I was in a marina where they turned off the water in winter, so I had to go to the Marina clubhouse for water for coffee and to wash dishes. I showered in the marina head.
I had a diesel heater on the boat and also used two small electric heaters when needed. On one cold night the water froze to a skim around the boat but no hard freeze all winter.
We had one cold and very windy night that knocked out the power and when I woke up in the morning the water in my galley sink was frozen, but no damage.
Another night we had a heavy snow storm and I had to shovel 4 inches of snow off the decks.
It wasn’t a Lot of fun, but wasn’t too bad and I would do it again.

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Old 25-01-2021, 11:21   #13
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Re: Winter in Annapolis practical for liveaboards?

Thank you
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Old 25-01-2021, 11:47   #14
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Re: Winter in Annapolis practical for liveaboards?

Boats have little insulation so breathing will create enough moisture to condense on any cold surface. We ventilate frequently and still there is moisture on cold surfaces. We utilize the marina showers, laundry, and bathrooms as much as possible. We do cooking in the cockpit with a small air fryer when possible. All these precautions and there is still spots where mold will appear. A diesel heater would be nice. In Maine, people frame a structure using clear shrinkwrap on top of the deck which helps hold the heat. Power boats seem better able to manage than sailboats.
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Old 25-01-2021, 11:48   #15
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Re: Winter in Annapolis practical for liveaboards?

We did 7 years liveaboard w 2 adults and 1 growing supervisor through grade school on Rock Creek, halfway between Annapolis & Balto. Webasto Diesel heater (hot water/antifreeze solution) primary heater for 40' sailboat. Used radiator (oil-filled) overnights with Webasto off. Condensation eliminated by adding internal foil bubble wrap along inside hull surfaces. Kept air scoops open 24/7. Open all ports and cut/place 3-mil clear plastic strip panels just larger than the open port inside opening and close port to seal in place. We had hatch screens for each (about 3-4" below each opening hatch. Placed same 3-mil plastic sheet about 1" larger than the screen on all sides putting screen back into place. so, dry heat sources, constant air refreshed. Buy a 12" width snow shovel for the boat and standard sized for the dock. Some marinas keep water running with a underwater winter water line for periodic use (refilling only) Check if marina has de-icers in the water thru the winter. Use shore systems for showers, etc. You will use your boat year round.
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