Originally Posted by JohnRPollard
There's some merit to what you say. We used these methods for years to take the chill off during the shoulder seasons, and got along alright.
That said, now having sailed for a few years with the real cabin heater -- I would NEVER go back. The difference in comfort level so is so stark that it's really beyond comparison. It's almost like the difference between sleeping in a tent and staying in a hotel (slight exaggeration). Our early and late season forays are much more enjoyable now. Of all the "comfort" investments we've made, that cabin heater was some of the best spent money.
Fuel choice is always debatable. As I've said in other threads, if we were long-term voyagers/live-aboards, I'd certainly give serious thought to the Webasto/Espar forced hot air diesel heaters. I've experienced those and they are wonderful units. But for our kind of sailing it's more difficult to justify that expense -- something like 10-15 times as costly.
Wood is tricky for a lot of reasons, but if that's what you prefer so be it. However, I would not recommend the Dickinson Newport wood heater for serious cabin heating, based on my conversation with them. Instead, if I was going with wood, I'd look at something more along these lines:
Wouldn't it be cool to have one of those in an old wooden schooner?
I agree with you, I think wood is probably too much trouble for most people, and I have no doubt at all that a forced air diesel would make a world of difference in comfort. In that way it is kind of like the difference between wood heat in a home and central heating, the wood heat is more trouble there too, most of the same issues. The biggest issue, in my opinion, with wood heat, is simply that you can't set it and forget it, that means you are essentially tied to the stove from December through February if you want to keep the place from freezing, and that is a real concern if you have a lot of canned goods or other things that you can't let freeze. On land not so much of a problem - make a root cellar. But, on a boat, different story. I think on a boat it could be a very long winter if the longest you can be away from the boat is half a day or a day at a time, you just can't load that much wood into a wood stove, it is going to burn out and eventually the stove is going to cool, then everything on the boat is going to freeze up, and that is going to happen no matter what kind of wood stove you have.
All that said, I still like my wood stove.
No reason a boat can't have both too, I suppose. Use the wood stove when you are on the boat for long periods of time, then flip a switch and use the forced air diesel for times when you are away. Mo money.