I like the look of the bulkhead stoves I've been seeing at West Marine and around the internet. I think one would be a great addition to the cabin. I would be interested to hear how people have fared with different types of stoves, particularly different fuel types. Also am looking for feedback from a fire hazard perspective.
Wood seems the lowest tech - pro: could picture rounding up firewood on a beach at an anchorage for fuel. con: How much space would a woodpile take up compared to a jerry can of diesel or propane? Then again a woodpile might be safer then propane. Also what about the smoke will it discolour sails and deposit soot about the decks?
I like the window on the propane models I've seen that simulate a fireplace - won't have quite the good smell and charm of real wood and costs more then wood.
The diesels seem the least charming of the lot aesthetically but could be quite practical as the jerry can of diesel would already be aboard as reserve fuel. Might be kind of smelly and same question about soot?
Thanks in advance for all input...
Bulkhead heaters are easiest to install but you have to cut a hole in the deck and have a stack on deck, yet something else to trip over or get a line caught on.
I think wood is actually the cheapest, at least in the Pacific Northwest. Just go ashore and collect it for free. But wood stinks.
Propane is the cleanest but most expensive to operate. I would get one for weekend use or light heating needs.
Did I mention about the hole in the deck? I don't like that.
So I went with a hydronic system, diesel. The exhaust is out the side, or in my case the stern. No hole in the deck, I like that.
But a proper stack has advantages. A proper stack does not care which way the wind is blowing it will always exhaust properly. With the exhaust out the side you have to pay more attention to wind direction. CO kills and the exhaust is much cleaner than the engine, you may not smell it if gets in the boat which it can do if you are tied to the dock and the wind is just right.
Nothing a couple CO detectors and paranoia can't take care of but still something to be aware of. Can be a problem with a stack as well but less so I would think.
So the answer to which heater is best is, like boats, different for each person. Which one is right for you I don't know but wouldn't recommend a hydronic system unless you have lots of money for the project or are planning to do lots of cold sailing or really do not want to put a hole in the deck.