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post #1 of 24 Old 04-02-2020 Thread Starter
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Wood Stove Heating For Sailboats

Within the first 5 minutes of this video, there are several ideas that might be helpful to heat a sailboat for cool or cold weather. The rest of the video tells how to install a wood stove, similar, possibly, to what the good Captain Slocum might have used. At the end of the video, Rebecca explains why the decision to go wood. It was a tough call as there was no perfect solution. The choice of heaters could be influenced by the area one is sailing in.
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post #2 of 24 Old 04-02-2020
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Re: Wood Stove Heating For Sailboats

I wonder how well saltwater saturated wood burns? Where exactly would one store a half cord or so of wood on a modern sailboat? Of course, if she was a dock queen, then no problem, but in that case wouldn't electric heat be a bit easier and cheaper?

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post #3 of 24 Old 04-02-2020 Thread Starter
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Re: Wood Stove Heating For Sailboats

Yep, Capta, it could mean an every other day beach stroll. Maybe we will load on a ton of coal for ballast. It is surprising though, how many sailboats have put this same stove on their sailboat and traveled the same region. No dock queen here. There are no docks where we are going which is part of the attraction. You should hear the great stories about the Falklands. Hundreds of islands and hardly any cruising sailboats. I ran into Skip Novak the other day at our local Haut Bay, grocery store, he runs charters in the Patagonia area. More amazing stories and certainly a charter boat I would not mind getting on while ours sits safely at anchor. We will see how it all works out for us.

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post #4 of 24 Old 04-02-2020
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Re: Wood Stove Heating For Sailboats

I've looked long and hard at this exact stove. I'm almost convinced to give it a try. My problem is, I'm not sure I need a better heat source (I use an alcohol burner right now).

My issues with a stove like this is the wood storage, dirt inside, and the soot. I know these are excellent stoves which burn very efficiently once up to temperature, but I also know that as the stove heats up, and cools down, it will produce smoke, soot and likely some ash. I'm concerned about the impact of this on the cabin and deck and perhaps sails.

I see the video folks are also concerned about the smoke on deck issue. I'm not sure I like their solution.

As far wood storage goes, it's going to be an issue, but I suspect this will be easier to manage. These stoves take so little fuel that you really don't need to have much on board. And I would stock up with a good supply of compressed natural fibre bricks (no glues). Something like this:
https://canawick.com/bricks/

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Re: Wood Stove Heating For Sailboats

[QUOTE=MikeOReilly;2051664196]
My issues with a stove like this is the wood storage, dirt inside, and the soot. I know these are excellent stoves which burn very efficiently once up to temperature, but I also know that as the stove heats up, and cools down, it will produce smoke, soot and likely some ash. I'm concerned about the impact of this on the cabin and deck and perhaps sails."

Mike, I have had the same concerns. But it is surprising how many other people use this same stove on their boat when sailing in very cold climates and no one has mentioned a problem of spilling ashes in the main saloon. Nor has anyone complained about soot on their Bimini or main, like I have imagined. I probably should have used the term "solid fuel stove" rather than just "wood" as these stoves are built solidly enough to also burn coal. We will get a fire going with wood then throw in some coal. We have gotten a lot of responses from people who have sailed the Tierra Del Fuego area with this stove and it worked well for them. The British marine author, Tom Cunliffe, says he has had a solid fuel stove on each of his yachts. On one Atlantic crossing, Tom says, a fire continually burned in the stove or the cold weather would have unbearable. He generally uses wood to start the fire then adds coal.

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Re: Wood Stove Heating For Sailboats

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Originally Posted by overthehorizon View Post
Mike, I have had the same concerns. But it is surprising how many other people use this same stove on their boat when sailing in very cold climates and no one has mentioned a problem of spilling ashes in the main saloon. Nor has anyone complained about soot on their Bimini or main, like I have imagined. I probably should have used the term "solid fuel stove" rather than just "wood" as these stoves are built solidly enough to also burn coal. We will get a fire going with wood then throw in some coal. We have gotten a lot of responses from people who have sailed the Tierra Del Fuego area with this stove and it worked well for them. The British marine author, Tom Cunliffe, says he has had a solid fuel stove on each of his yachts. On one Atlantic crossing, Tom says, a fire continually burned in the stove or the cold weather would have unbearable. He generally uses wood to start the fire then adds coal.
As I said, I like these stoves, and may yet go for one. But having heated with a woodstove on land for over a decade I have a pretty good appreciation for the good, the bad and the dirty . The ashes problem isn't on inside the boat, it's on the cabin and deck.

There will be black smoke on start up and cool down. It can't be avoided and I can't see how this won't affect the deck. It may not be a significant issue, but it's something to think about (as the video folks you posted are).

As far as impact on the salon, moving fibre or coal inside the boat will make things dirtier -- or rather, it will require more attention to keep things clean. Certainly not particularly hard to do so, but I guarantee you will have to pay more attention to cleaning.

I absolutely love the idea of a woodstove, and think these Cubic stoves are excellent. They're relatively inexpensive, and the saving in fuel costs could be significant. But there will be some challenges as well.

Insurance? If you have hull insurance, you might want to check with your underwriter to make sure they're ok with this choice. On land I know some insurers were less pleased with woodstoves, and often insurance was more costly (it's partly why we never had insurance on our last land home).

Not trying to dissuade you. Just keep eyes wide open.

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Re: Wood Stove Heating For Sailboats

Sailed Maine and New England for years. Have had solid fuel, drip diesel, forced hot air and forced hot water. Conclusions
If you sail any system that wont tolerate boat movement is worthless.
If you button up in sleet and cold rain any system that has combustion in living areas is dangerous.
If your system doesnt automatically turn off if combustion is interrupted or incomplete is dangerous.
If your system doesnt provide even heat throughout the vessel and is dependent upon radiant heat to heat living space it will be ineffective and uncomfortable.
Any system that requires frequent attention while in use wont work in practice.

Therefore believe hydronic heat such as a wesbasto is the only viable choice for a liveaboard cruiser.

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post #8 of 24 Old 04-03-2020
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Re: Wood Stove Heating For Sailboats

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I wonder how well saltwater saturated wood burns? ...
It will increase corrosion very dramatically, even after drying. The ash will be very high in salt. There will also be considerable HCl in the exhaust gas; better keep the flue hot, which means inefficient.

You will also want a tallish stack to keep ash off the deck. And don't use it while in a marina; put ash on another boat and you are in deep do-do. That happened in my home marina once (not to my boat), and it was ugly. He got to pay to have the damaged boat detailed, which didn't really cover the potential harm to dodger windows. He was no longer welcome in the marina and soon left.
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Re: Wood Stove Heating For Sailboats

I really like wood heating on a boat. Had a buddy who lived aboard year round in Ontario that had a home made version of a Cubic mini on a Hans Christian 36. He used one of those heat activated fans to circulate the air. It was hot! Often had to open the hatches to cool the boat down even in the mid of winter.

I have always wanted a solid fuel heater, but for the sailing I do on the great lakes April- December, my alcohol space heater is generally pretty adequate.
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Re: Wood Stove Heating For Sailboats

I would never want that on a boat. Diesel or kerosene is much better for fuel storage, soot, ash, and is much easier to extinguish. It is hard to control the temperature of a wood stove, hard to put out (dangerous) and they are sooty no matter what people say. And as pointed out above, they require constant attention. No thank you.
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