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  #1  
Old 06-28-2011
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hello all,

I am a first time live aboard and first time sailboat owner "to be."
I was wondering what live aboard conditions are like during the winter months with temperatures around 30 degrees? Are space heaters supplied by shore power the best bet? Any tips/advice/wisdom?

Also, parking. If I wanted to commute to work, do marinas usually offer parking spots at additional cost? What is the best way to handle parking for two?

thank you for any insight,

peace

Last edited by Hydra11; 06-28-2011 at 06:51 AM.
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Old 06-28-2011
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for a decent size boat (>32') space heaters are your worst choice...they can tip over, are very inefficient, should not be left running when you are not there. They are fed off shore power, as few boats have generators to sustain the loads. Can not be run off solar panels or wind, again the load is too great.

The best choice for liveaboard, IMHO is diesel or diesel fired hot water heat. Neither are in expensive and take up room on the boat.

We have made do with reverse cycle marine units, one in the salon, one in the aft cabin. They do OK when the water temp is decent, not so much when the weather really turns.

All marinas, we have been at provide parking for at least one car in the monthly slippage. For working while living aboard...you will find other more annoying concerns: suits and clothes will take on the "boat" smell. I used to leave my better clothes in the car...shower (that in itself has it's own set of challenges if done aboard, different challenges if done in the bath house) and then change just before leaving, others shower/change at work, if possible.

Access to the boat is downright dangerous when icy or snowy, as none of the marinas I have stayed do any snow or ice removal. We actually had a lady fall last year, and the marina did nothing, even after she fell. She had gone to the local hardware store and bought de-ice but the owner would not spread it, idiot. She is still recovering from a shattered joint. Getting on and off the boat, and hatches/doors open when icy can be a problem. I always had the vision of later telling the boss how "his" two laptops are at the bottom of the potomac river - as I could not swim or get out until I dropped them.

Lastly, there is the whole water issue, most marinas and all the ones we have stayed at, shut the water off in late october, or when it really starts to get cold. The drain all the water lines except a couple of freeproof ones on the shore side. Several times a month we would have water parties and string the hoses out, else it is carry gallon jugs. Some of the more expensive/new places have a wrapped umbilical of water, electric, pumpout, etc that has neater tape so as to not freeze. This works well until the power goes out, which it does quite frequently.

Hope I did not scare you, as liveaboard can be awesome, but you need to know up front it has it's moments...it is/was well worth it for us.
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Old 06-28-2011
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kd3pc has some good points. here are my observations of what he said.

Our boat is smell free(and yours can be too) so we store all our clothes on the boat. Aside from showering on shore we do everything on the boat that we did in the house. We walk the dog every morning and stop at the showers on the way back.

Our marina does an excellent job at clearing snow, checking lines, taking care of unattended boats. They care about their customers. The worst issue we have is that they rely on the youngest and least experienced employees to clean the showers and that means it does not get done very well. A few of us will take turns cleaning the showers. No big deal as we did this at home anyway.

No problem with water. First, we have 175 gallon water capacity. We have a long string of hoses that are capped at each end and sunk in the water. We pull them up and connect both ends to fill the tanks any time we wish.

The only other difference is going up to shore to use the facilities. You get used to this and most the time you can time it with going out or returning from other trips or work.

We cover our boat down to the top of the deck with clear shrink wrap. On sunny cold days it can get up in the 70s and 80s on deck. We use that as our winter sun porch and have enjoyed many meals out there in the winter.

We love the LA lifestyle and plan to stay aboard for many years to come.
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Old 06-29-2011
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Thank you for your reply.
I am so excited to be taking the first step to live aboard. I know it's not quite like camping, but nothing really compares to natures glory, day or night. The times I've been on the water are humbling and sensible... who would think floating on water would be one of the most sensible decisions? We will be living in Norfolk, VA so the weather is not too bad and I'd love to invest in some shrink wrap for a comfortable dinner and card game.
I was thinking about a 32' boat.
How realistic are solar panels? With seawater and wear and tear. I can't imagine every port has a solar store next to their customs office. I have a lot of questions but am under the impression, from reading several posts, that one must go dive in and do it. I understand that and have made my mind up... and to be honest I think getting a library card would be my biggest worry... books are the one thing I collect... UNLESS OF COURSE I take a picture of each book... start a collection that way.... see a new lifestyle leading to new solutions already ha!
If one were to sail out of the country, into international waters, would they have to declare a leave of absence from the US? I hear tell of people sailing for years... how do they keep their citizenship? By just renewing their Visas?
What made you pick up sailing?

peace
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Old 06-29-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hydra11 View Post
I understand that and have made my mind up... and to be honest I think getting a library card would be my biggest worry... books are the one thing I collect... UNLESS OF COURSE I take a picture of each book... start a collection that way.... see a new lifestyle leading to new solutions already ha!
peace
Oh - dude. If you're a true bibliophile, you're in trouble. Here is a truism about boats. I kid thee not. No matter how new, expensive, and large the boat may be: there is NEVER enough room. If you collect books, you're going to fill your boat with them.

On the other hand, if you just like to read, go electronic. My kindle meets ALL of my fiction needs now. I've slowly re-bought most of my fiction, and ALL my new stuff must be kindle-available. It's freed up room for my non-fiction. I've found that for reference, hardcopy works better than kindle.
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Old 06-29-2011
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I also have all my books electronic. Mine's a Barnes & Noble Nook, rather than Kindle, because my library supports the Nook format. But you can also get all the public domain classics free in e-formats; try a site like manybooks.net. Special bonus - the golden age of sail was long-enough ago that everything's public domain, so there are lots of relevant things to read.

Our marina offers free parking, 2 vehicles per slip (hint: one of ours is a large van that rarely is used for travel, but does serve as auxiliary storage shed)

We use one of those oil-filled heaters that looks like an old-time radiator; it doesn't get as hot as the ceramic ones so little hazard. Also have a diesel heater. Reverse-cycle doesn't work below water temp of about 40 degrees, because it works by taking heat out of the water to pump into your cabin. At below 40 degrees, say you try to take 10 degrees of heat out of the water ... water freezes at 32 ... you can't pump ice. OTOH, you don't need to spend much energy keeping your fridge cold in winter!

We have 2 solar panels 65 watts each. We got serious about trimming our energy budget, all LED lighting indoors, efficient keel-cooled refrig, etc. Except in late autumn and winter, those two panels make 100% of our power needs.

For ice on the dock, buy a set of ice cleats - or two, one for the boat and one for your car. Yak-Trax is one brand; no worries about salt on docks.

A US-based mail forwarding service will take care of your citizenship stuff - voting registration, renewing drivers licenses and Coast Guard boat registration, etc, while you're gone. We use St Brendan's Isle in FL and have been extremely happy with them.

Sorry if this seems scattershot, I'm trying to respond to points you've mentioned in your posts.
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  #7  
Old 06-30-2011
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I lived aboard this past winter in the northern Chesapeake, western shore. I was at a marina with well built floating docks so had easy access on/off the boat. I had two 30amp feeds.

I used 3 space heaters and an electric throw. One heater was the West/Caframo which worked well. The other two were older design ceramic cubes. (Those are an entirely different animal than the modern, cheapo lightweight "ceramic" heaters). Those old cubes are heavy, put out a lot of warm air but do not get hot, have tip over protection, and I consider them safe. Have used that design for 20 yrs. But they are very hard to find unused and not cheap.

Typically I had the West up fwd between the head and forepeak, and a cube at the base of the companionway. Those ran most of the time when aboard. I sometimes used the 3rd heater but on half power. I placed it under the table where it provided some warmth to my feet and legs when spending a lot of time seated there. I was not concerned about LED lighting as during winter the heat from incandescents is useful.

In the forepeak I tolerated much cooler temps because I was only up there when in my berth, which was warmed by the electric throw using negligible power. I used bedroll pads along the sides of the forepeak as insulation.

I also have a bulkhead mounted propane heater in the main cabin and ran that full at nights, and on cold days. Otherwise at half in the daytime, when aboard.

I bought rubber back carpeting cheap at KMart and cut to fit around the cabin floors. That made a huge difference.

I dressed for the season with thermal underwear under day clothes. I slept in acrylic fleece sleepwear. When not aboard I had one or two heaters on, low setting. I allowed the temp to drop substantially. I experienced minimal condensation. Was it cold? Yeah, but I only noticed it at the halfway point when changing to/from day to sleep clothes. My electric bill for Jan>March was $45. Propane about $45>60.

I showered ashore. Carried water on board when needed to refill. But on board consumption was low.

Last edited by Trekka; 06-30-2011 at 01:58 AM.
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Old 06-30-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wingNwing View Post
We use one of those oil-filled heaters that looks like an old-time radiator; it doesn't get as hot as the ceramic ones so little hazard. Also have a diesel heater. Reverse-cycle doesn't work below water temp of about 40 degrees, because it works by taking heat out of the water to pump into your cabin.
I have exactly the same heating solution as Cinderella. I leave the oil-filled radiator on all the time and turn on the diesel heater (a medium-sized Espar) when I am aboard.

My marina is part of an apartment complex. Slipholders aren't allowed to use the general parking lots but there is plenty of street parking and an overflow lot we are allowed to use.
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  #9  
Old 06-30-2011
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Thank you for your replies. I will definitely check out the oil- filled heaters and the old school ceramic heaters. I'm assuming insulation is just as important as a source of heat. I heard through you all putting bubble wrap over portholes, tarps to section off the boat, shrink wrap on deck helps with this.
What other house hold items can double as insulation? It's not winter, so I can't makeshift my warmth just yet!
As for solar panels, that's great, 100 percent efficiency... I will get two~!!

As for the books... Sigh... suppose I'll have to kindle... I just can't wrap my head round not having a book in my hand! One step at a time... I'll go to the bookstore and hold a kindle first... heh And reference books, yes in hand for sure!

Other questions:
Cookware: Any suggestions as to limit the amount of clamor? I'm assuming one of each (pot, pan)... I've never been away for more than a week, so I'm assuming the type of food you cook makes a big deal. The young sailor in me is thinking noodles, rice, beans... how is eating aboard while cruising? Do you all relive the spice trade?

I heard it's ok to throw metal overboard, how do you all feel about this? What is the best way to keep trash under control?
Any sailors etiquette/ tips out there to beware of? Don't want to anger my slipmate upon move in!!

Thank you all for your insight...

peace
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Old 06-30-2011
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we don't throw anything that is not foodstuff for the fish overboard, especially metal, plastic or paper. We strip all the un-needed (most of it, but don't get me started on excess, useless packaging) stuff from everything that comes aboard and use a marker to date everything that still has a label or surface. Regular trash - maybe a kitchen bag size a week to 10 days for galley, head and life waste stuff, again better than being ashore. It goes to the marina dumpster, or stowed until we get to one.

We have two 110 watt, flip up panels and when out, they do a great job of keeping things going, and except for AC/Heat provide almost 100% of our energy needs. We have almost replaced every inside light aboard with LED sensibulbs and although expensive, are great. No failures, with plenty of use. In the marina we keep the panels down or stowed in the beast in the parking lot, as clearance (and possible damage) is an issue.

We found that a really good cusinart $20 fry pan, and a small sauce pan did a great job, we use the grill outside all year round, and we prep meals ahead of time. We found that living aboard, eating healthy was much easier, as we planned meals better, used more fresh stuff and tried more recipes. We love the microwave for popcorn, oatmeal, hot chocolate, reheating leftovers and the small tv dinners when we forgot to do anything formal. We seldom eat out, but that was true shoreside as well.

Other than the info about throwing metal overboard...
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