Heat and AC and heat reqirements for Chesapeake in winter? - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 26 Old 05-01-2016 Thread Starter
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Heat and AC and heat reqirements for Chesapeake in winter?

I'll be buying a 1988 C&C MkII 30' boat this month. I plan to live aboard in DC on the Chesapeake...through winter in Harrington Harbor South. Not many people do it, but I'll be by myself, so room should be fine for a 46yr old guy. It's in great shape. I plan to install a $800 or so fridge in the icebox. Why? I'm moving from a 15' West Wight Potter to a real sail boat, get paid to live in DC for a year (Rent is $1500/month + utilities). The marina is only $475/month and only pay for electric which is about $160 in winter I was told.

However, not sure what to do for heat AND ac.
The boat has a port/roof top AC available for $500 extra (not purchased yet).
I talked a small boat owner on a pretty worn/well used boat. He said he uses 3 electric heaters (1500watt).
Would this work realistically?
Should I put in a $2000 marine AC/heat unit at ~9,000 BTU ac and 10,000 btu heat? I'd install it myself.
That works out to be about $1,500 more than buying his port AC unit without heat.

Initial research says the bay water temps gets down to 40-42 degrees in January and air temps to 29 average lows and 44 highs in January. It's all better the rest of the year. I heard that the heat pumps don't work well below 40 degrees.
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post #2 of 26 Old 05-01-2016
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Re: Heat and AC and heat reqirements for Chesapeake in winter?

I have a 14,000 BTU heat pump in my Morgan 33 OI and it works great, summer and winter. It is relatively small, about 14 X 18 inches X 14 inches high, doesn't consume much electricity, very efficient, but it is a bit noisy on the heat mode.

All the best,

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post #3 of 26 Old 05-01-2016
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Re: Heat and AC and heat reqirements for Chesapeake in winter?

I ran my reverse cycle AC/heat for the first time this morning. It warmer up the interior from 50 to 65 in reasonable time with the water being in the low 40s. So it is doable.

But if it were me and I was mainly thinking live-aboard at a marina where I could plug in I would just use electric heaters and the roof top AC.

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post #4 of 26 Old 05-01-2016
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Re: Heat and AC and heat reqirements for Chesapeake in winter?

Flagship Marine .... a/c is reverse cycle. Heat is straight electric furnace. Have had one for almost twenty years still runs like new.

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post #5 of 26 Old 05-02-2016
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Re: Heat and AC and heat reqirements for Chesapeake in winter?

We lived aboard at HHS for a while, but moved up to Annapolis eventually because HHS didn't have enough town to entertain us when we couldn't go sailing (we still live aboard up here). You will definitely need something to provide heat besides the reverse cycle for a portion of the year. The bay gets too cold for it to work. We had ours shut down for about 6 weeks this past winter. It was too cold to use it for much longer than that the previous two winters. But a few space heaters works fine. You just need to make sure your shore power is up to the task. Two winters ago, at least 4 boats on our dock had their shore power inlets burn up (all caught in time to avoid more significant damage). Space heaters draw a lot of power.

EDIT: Also worth noting: There will be periods of the winter (generally) where the pump-out boat will not be able to get to you because of ice. And HHS does not provide any dock water in the winter. You will have to run a long series of hoses up to the bath-house and drain the hose when you are done. (Making friends with the other liveaboards will help with this.) And HHS does not provide bubblers, so you will have to deal with that on your own.

Last edited by mr_f; 05-02-2016 at 01:32 PM.
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post #6 of 26 Old 05-02-2016
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Re: Heat and AC and heat reqirements for Chesapeake in winter?

We moved aboard about a month ago, when water temps were 40ish and air temps were freezing. The heat pump did not do well enough on it's own. We ran a space heater in our cabin at night to supplement.

As water temps have risen to almost 50 and air temps in the 40s and 50s, the heat pump did a great job. No struggle at all.

I think even DC will see it's fair share of cold water and freezing winter temps.

Also need to be concerned over condensation. If you have access to shore power, I would highly consider running a dehumidifier. Showers, cooking, breathing, all add moisture. Not to mention, if you go the route of a fuel burning heat source.


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post #7 of 26 Old 05-02-2016
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Re: Heat and AC and heat reqirements for Chesapeake in winter?

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Also need to be concerned over condensation. If you have access to shore power, I would highly consider running a dehumidifier. Showers, cooking, breathing, all add moisture. Not to mention, if you go the route of a fuel burning heat source.
We make do without a dehumidifier by just increasing ventilation, but we generally shower on shore. But you will probably want to add something like hypervent or froli to provide airflow under mattresses or you will be dealing with a lot of condensation and mildew.
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Re: Heat and AC and heat reqirements for Chesapeake in winter?

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We make do without a dehumidifier by just increasing ventilation.....
Isn't that a bit tough? Some cover their boat for the winter, making ventilation hard, not to mention that ventilation on a 20 deg night is rough duty.

BTW, I'm sure you know this, but the reason that ventilation works is because outside cold air can't hold as much moisture as the interior heated air. However, if you don't get the interior humidity (dew point) down below the hull temp, you'll get condensation somewhere. The worst are places you can't see.


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Re: Heat and AC and heat reqirements for Chesapeake in winter?

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Isn't that a bit tough? Some cover their boat for the winter, making ventilation hard, not to mention that ventilation on a 20 deg night is rough duty.

BTW, I'm sure you know this, but the reason that ventilation works is because outside cold air can't hold as much moisture as the interior heated air. However, if you don't get the interior humidity (dew point) down below the hull temp, you'll get condensation somewhere. The worst are places you can't see.
We don't cover our boat because there are often enough nice days to go sailing scattered through the winter around here. For me, the hardest part of winter is staring out at the bay not being able to go sailing, so those few days are worth it to me. (We did question that decision when the bay was 95% ice-covered two winters ago.) Hopefully someone else who covers during the winter can compare their experience with ventilation.

And I am not talking about a lot of ventilation. We generally leave an overhead hatch below the dodger slightly cracked in a cabin we don't hang out in. This exchanges enough hot moist air for relatively drier air at a rate that the heaters can easily keep up with. We vent a bit more if we are cooking soup or pasta. On the coldest of nights, we may close it off and deal with a little condensation.

It is worth noting that our boat has a foam-cored hull, which I believe helps with condensation on the hull. But it still took us a while to find the right solutions for the hard-to-reach places (hence my mention of airflow under mattresses). There are some storage areas we don't use during the winter because if they are full, the hull sweats behind the stuff, and some we make sure to open and air out regularly. Our mast is fully wrapped. We insulated a few places that were problems. Things like that. It works for us.

You may be right that a dehumidifier is a better solution. I was already tripping over space heaters, so the thought of adding another thing to trip over (especially one that can be fairly noisy) outweighed the trouble of figuring out how to deal with condensation. Now that we have it "figured out", I consider our boat to be "warm and dry".

Last edited by mr_f; 05-02-2016 at 06:32 PM.
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post #10 of 26 Old 05-03-2016
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Re: Heat and AC and heat reqirements for Chesapeake in winter?

Wouldn't those topside AC units that are removable be a pain every time you want to go sail? Just curious.

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