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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance
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  #1  
Old 12-15-2008
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a/c question: drop-in or RV unit on Catalina 320?

So, yeah, it's awfully cold here in DC to be thinking about a/c, but in October I became the new owner of a '95 Catalina 320 and I'm planning ahead for spring...and then our hot, sticky Chesapeake summers.

I've searched for and read through numerous threads on air conditioners but have not been able to really get the info I need (though I did find some good stuff).

My questions:

(1) Will a Cruisair 7000 "portable" supply sufficient cooling on a 32' boat just to sleep comfortably? I won't need to get the boat cooled during the heat of the day. I just want to be able to sleep on hot nights during the dog days of summer.

(2) I read about the pros and cons (and various methods) of adapting non-marine window units, but saw nothing about rooftop RV a/c units. Any reason why? Anyone tried it?

As most of you know, the built-in solutions are really pricey. I'm just trying to get educated on the available options.

Thanks!

Kevin

Last edited by PrinceBuster; 12-15-2008 at 08:06 AM. Reason: typo
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Old 12-15-2008
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You're about to get a lot of different responses on this one.

My 2 cents as one who has gone that route along with the window AC in the companionway.

. . . . . . . your boat has enough room. Build it in! Get a Marine Air System or similar. Any other way, imho, is a pain in the @$$. Built ins are only 300 bucks more than the RV type and well worth it!
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Old 12-15-2008
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I agree. Don't mess with window or RV units on a sailboat, unless you plan to be tied to the dock 95% of the time. They're fine on houseboats and some other power vessels, but not for sailboats, IMHO (I've had all three types).

Among the self-contained built-in marine units, I like those by Flagship Marine: Marine Air Conditioning Systems - water, air and keel cooled.

Same ones used by USCG and Canadian Coast Guard. Among other things, they have a low-cost option for heating which is far superior to the heat-exchanger types, IMO. It uses a big solid coil, draws 2,000 watts, and keeps my 42' sloop nice and warm. Doesn't require running water/pumps, etc.

I installed two of these units on my boat about six years ago. Love 'em. I'm also located in DC and would be happy to show them to you/discuss them if you like. Just PM me.

Bill
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I have to go with the crowd here and say that a "real" marine AC is the way to go with a nice newer boat like a C320, assuming you are going to keep it a good while.

On my old Oday 322, we got by with a window unit and even though it was a true PITA to use, it kept the boat tolerable even on the hottest days.
It was worth the PITA factor since I knew I would not keep that boat long enough to amortize the cost of installing real AC.

We now have a Catalina 36 with a Rotary Aire (Westerbeke) Marine AC unit and it is great. It will cool the cabin very quickly and the best part is when we are ready to leave the dock, you turn it off and go. No lifting and hefting and looking for a good place to store a clunky metal object.

If you think you might be succeptable to twofootitis, then the carry on might be an option. You could probably get one for about 1/2 the cost of new if you look on e-bay and the like.

BTW where do you keep your boat?

I live in NOVA, work in DC, and keep our boat in Deltaville. Its a haul down there, but we have to boat as a "get away" and Deltaville fits that bill perfectly.
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Last edited by PalmettoSailor; 12-15-2008 at 02:37 PM. Reason: added a question
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Old 12-15-2008
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Agreed. Do it the right way.

No fun tripping over something in the companionway. No fun lugging the unit around the cabin, tripping over it, or it "jumping" off its perch in waves.
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Old 12-16-2008
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PB... Check out the C320 website at http://www.catalina320.com/ It may take you a while to find it but there is a section on personal pictures and one owners Generator and AC install under the port lazerette with lots of pictures and some verbiage. While you're rooting around there you may find my section with many pictures of my mods over the years to my previous 99 C320.
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Last edited by christyleigh; 12-16-2008 at 08:24 AM.
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Old 12-16-2008
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I have a Mermaid 16,500 btu unit installed on my Gemini, which has a tad more actual volume than the C320. It directly vents only to the main salon, there is no duct work through the boat into the three cabins. It cools the boat nicely even in the worse parts of summer. I don't know if a 7000 btu would do it for you.

A Honda 2000i powers it up and runs it nicely but frankly we've never had it on while away from the pier even tho we weekend cruise all over the Chesapeake.
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Old 12-16-2008
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Thanks everyone, for the good feedback. It seems the consensus is "suck it up, spend the money and do it right."

btrayfors: thanks for the tip on Flagship Marine.
midlifesailor: I'm berthed in Deale - Rockhold Creek Marina.
christyleigh: I've been on catalina320.com but not seen that. I'll check it out.

Merry Christmas.

Kevin
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Old 12-16-2008
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This post is to reiterate my thanks.

Nah, actually it's just to get my post count to 10! I was at 9 before this post and it seems that in order to reply to a PM I have to have 10 posts.

Ho ho ho.

Kevin
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Old 12-16-2008
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I am pretty much at the dock now for 2 years. This June I made 3 weeks in the Bahamas, so I use window a/c over my hatches. 2 because she's big. I used insulation foam board with the reflective material. For $100 per hatch I had a new unit, hood, and vents inside for directing the air. Comes off in 10 minutes, and back on in 10 minutes. If money's tight with a new purchase. This will get you through a blistering summer, or 2.

For about $600.00 you can buy one with heat too, but I use a small ceramic heater for winter. Winter only get down to about 30 at the most here.
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