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Old 05-06-2001
Mark Matthews Mark Matthews is offline
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Moisture Dilemma

We are living aboard our 51-foot boat and have an on-going problem with moisture under the mattress in the berth where we sleep. This was also noticeable on the Hunter we owned before. Do we need to add some sort of barrier between our mattress and the wood it lies on?

Mark Matthews responds:
Thanks for the question. Battling moisture aboard is a never-ending problem on many boats. When warm, moisture-laden air hits cold surfaces like windows, hatches, or the hull, it cools and gives up the moisture in the form of condensation. This moisture, if left unattended—and especially if it has seeped down into the dark recesses of lockers, or along cushions—provides an environment ripe for mold and mildew to breed, which collectively wage a campaign against your vessel and its contents.

A roll of foil insulation, which looks like a cross between aluminum foil and bubble wrap and is available at large hardware stores, attached to the hull has kept our v-berth free of condensation for the first time in years. The success of insulating the side of the hull depends on ensuring that air cannot get beneath the layer of insulation. We've also had good results with a product called Dri-Deck when used underneath the cushions. Drilling holes into cabinets and lockers is also another way to keep air moving, and keep the mold at bay.

Ventilation is the real issue for liveaboards and boat owners in general. Air needs to circulate, or condensation will form, with mold close behind. I recommend that you try Dri–Deck first, and failing that, you might want to air out the mattress on a regular basis. For additional information you can subscribe to our e-mail discussion list for liveaboards. Once you do that you can query a veritbale marina load of experts on such topics. Just follow this link to the e-mail discussion index page http://members.sailnet.com/email_lists/, and click on "L" for liveaboard.