Join Date: Dec 2007
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I have lived on a 37' trawler in Cincinnati for over 8 years now. I use a Hurricane hydronic heating system that I installed. It was expensive (just the hurricane is around $3000) but well worth every penny. I leave it on 24 hours a day all winter and it has never let me down. All it needs is an occasional fuel filter change. No big deal.
I run the glycol mixture through a radiator mounted in front of my cold air return for my AC system for the forced air in the cabin. Then it coils under the floors (warm feet when I get out of bed. No slippers required.), goes under my bunk (when you pull back the sheets to get in bed, the bed is already warm), into the head and under the floor in the shower (no cold feet in the shower either), into the engine room (engines like to be warm too), and all over the rest of the boat.
Right now its 4 degrees outside and its still 72 inside. Right where I set it. I'm sure it would keep your cat very warm and comfortable for a long time.
I've tried all kinds of heating systems over the years. Its not worth messing around with half assed systems. If you're going to be a liveaboard, do it right. Its worth it. Other cheaper systems let you down too often and turn into cold, sleepless nights spent desperately trying to fix a failed unit in the cold. Pretty soon you realize that you need a spare part and that UPS will take 3 - 4 days to get it to you. That means 3 - 4 more cold days. After you've gone through this a few times, you're mad, your spouse is REAL mad and the next thing you know, your grand dream of romantically living aboard in bliss is all but sunk and you find yourself living in an apartment and cursing boats. Don't let this happen to you! Spend the extra money up front and do it right the first time.
Don't let anyone tell you that living aboard is cheap. It ain't! We do it because we love it, not to save money. But if done right, it is one of the most rewarding things you can do...