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Go Back   SailNet Community > Out There > Cruising & Liveaboard Forum > Living Aboard
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Old 11-01-2008
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Question Winter boat safety?

Just curious, thinking about living aboard near vancouver canada. what do you suggest or is it a given that the engine be decommissioned and all the fresh water be cleared out of hoses etc, etc, if you would be planning on keeping the internal temperature warm enough for liveaboard conditions. I lived in a log cabin in southern ontario, canada for a winter with only wood burning stove for heat. When i would go away for a week and come back all the pipes would be frozen and i would have to start a fire and get the heat back up before using water. No big deal. Now back to a sailboat, if the tempurature is kept above freezing, would this be an issue for water/plumbing/tanks/engine/whatever else you can think of? Thinking more along the lines of not damaging anything on the boat. eg: water line break etc.
Thanks for your help.
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Old 11-01-2008
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No big deal, you let water pipes on a boat freeze, and then they split, and then when they thaw the boat floods and sinks.

The alternatives include antifreeze, draining lines, hauling the boat, or heating the boat (most risky).
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Old 11-01-2008
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I lived aboard last winter. I kept a small space eater on all the time to keep it warm inside the cabin. I kept all seacocks closed except the cockpit drains. I kept fresh water for cooking and drinking, but showered in the marinas facility.

The only fresh water lines that I ever had problems with where the hot water lines that run through my engine compartment. It got colder in there with no warm air flowing in. Those lines stopped flowing a few times, but never burst. To correct it I just turned the water heater on for a little while and it would flow again.

Depending on if your water lines are routed through areas that will stay warm from your cabin heat or not, you may have problems with them freezing.

When I used any water (cooking, cleaning, teeth brushing, etc) i would open the sink drain seacock, let it drain, the close it back off immediately so i didn't forget it.

I wintertized the engine, that's a must do. It gets cold in the engine room. Unless you install a small heater in there, and even if you do, winterize the engine. If the engine freezes it'll be big bucks to fix.
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Old 11-02-2008
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Thanks, the idea is that the boat will be a liveaboard, so yes it will be heated. I understand that someone living aboard further south in the winter might not have to be worried about these things. Anyone from Brithish columbia have a response. Looking to learn from those more experienced then me.
Thanks again.
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Old 11-03-2008
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This is a big deal!

Letting the pipes freeze in a cabin is probably nothing I would do as the ice can expand and bust a pipe - and you wouldn't find out until the pipe thawed. But in a boat, this stuff is much more dangerous. The pipes are hoses and may not be as capable of withstanding frozen water and the expansion. But the slightest crack could ultimately cause your home to find its way to the bottom.

Freezing temperatures can mean crushed hulls, broken blocks, broken lines/hoses, etc. If water finds its way into crevices in the deck, any subsequent freezing will open up seams.

Lots of people who intended to warm the interior of their boats forgot about warming the interior of the engine compartment and every interior space where the hoses are run. In this kind of condition, it is often best to cover or wrap the boat if, for no other reason, to keep the moisture off the deck and trap heat as best as possible. I would use anti-freeze in the lines and would even use anti-freeze in a bucket as water to flush the head.

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Old 05-08-2009
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ive been living on my boat on vancouver island now for awhile. while traditionally it doesnt get that cold here this winter it got cold and stayed cold for most of the winter. lots of snow and freezing temps. granted my boat is only a small 27 catalina but all i needed to keep it warm was a little 110 caframo cabin heater and the vberth/head area was heated with a small oil filled heater. now this was fine for the most part but when it got really cold i had to fire up the dickensen propane heater which worked really well. i used closed cell foam on top of the deck cut to size and tied off to life lines to reduce the heat loss seemed to help quite a bit. didnt seem to have any issues with condensation except when i was boiling water but other than that was ok.
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Old 05-08-2009
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I lived aboard on Flathead Lake, Montana. I can only say a few things about winter on a boat. I use a small wood stove for heat. An "outfitters stove". The temp in my cabin was usually 80*F, even when it was 20 below outside. However...I figured out that the floor temp was about 30-40F. I could put my hand on the floor right under the wood stove. Ice and snow would not melt, but I had to keep the hatch open or roast. Get the heat source as low as possible, and sit with your feet up!
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