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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everybody,

My wife, dog, and I are new to this live aboard thing...and we really love it. As the temperature has dropped, we obviously are running into increased condensation and resulting mildew.

I have been scouring the "information super highway" about condensation fixes.

We live in NH in the slip, so we have shore power. It is not my preference right now to rip the boat apart and insulate everything, although I realize that may be a reality in the future.

We are running a small space heater for heat now, when needed, but typically don't use it much as the boat seems to stay relatively warm.

The condensation mostly comes around portholes in the walls, hatches in the ceiling...like the one over our bed, and under our mattress. We just spent the weekend cleaning the ensuing mildew...good times, but the beer was tasty when it was done.

We have considered a product called hypervent for under the mattress and are considering a dehumidifier currently.

I am also considering putting in a espar heating system...but seems like big money. I'm not even sure if that will help or make things worse, but heat of some sort needs to happen soon.

Does anyone have any tips on beating the condensation without ripping out boat apart as well as any tips on a decent heating system?

Thanks in advance!
 

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If youre at a slip with power, consider a 'small' dehumidifier or use your onboard AC to knock down the humidity level.

You can 'insulate' the inside of hatches, etc. with 'bubble wrap', etc.
 

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Dinks14: I live in Durham, curious, where is your slip? Wife and I have been kicking around the live aboard idea . . .
 

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Hypervent - great stuff! Put it under your mattresses and cushions and let it curl up the sides to maximize air flow, you will have zero condensation problems. Or, don't use it, and plan to replace the bedding, which will have grown black mold by spring (you don't want to know how I know this, okay? Our first winter aboard, 2002-2003, was very very challenging. Let's leave it at that.)

Dehumidifier is another excellent suggestion.

Espar or Webasto heaters (similar technologies) are efficient and wonderful if you're at anchor, but burn diesel, which means they are adding moisture to the cabin air. If you are staying at a dock and have electricity, a few of those oil-filled electric heaters (look like an old fashioned radiator) are simple and safe, don't get too hot, and cost a LOT less than an Espar/Webasto.

Get Reflectix insulation (looks like silver-sided bubble wrap) at a hardware store and cut to fit the inside of lockers against the hull to keep the contents dry. Also at a hardware store are window kits containing clear heat-shrink plastic wrap that are good solutions for hatches and ports. Any clothing in lockers that are subject to condensation, can be stored in large ziploc bags.

Congrats on moving aboard, after 10 years, we still love it...
 

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Can you put in temporary reflex insulation (reflective foil covered bubble wrap type) perhaps held in place by flexible battens or Velcro? Are you shrink-wrapped? if you are make sure you have lots of vents in place.

If you add a heater that burns fuel, make sure it is vented outside, that will prevent it from adding moisture, and more importantly carbon monoxide.

I saw a very nice small looking dehumidifier at Home Depot last summer, and thought it would be great for a boat.

It may have been this one:

25-Pint Dehumidifier-SG-DEH-25-4 at The Home Depot


looked nice and compact. I have no idea if it was any good.
 

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We live aboard in Portland and we do a few things to tackle the humidity. First, our heater is a diesel fired hydronic Hurricane system which does not add any moisture into the air. We also run a dehumidifier once we stop sailing for the year after Thanksgiving. Hypervent works great under the mattress. Cut out blocks of foam to fit into the hatch openings.

In the winter, we cover the boat with clear shrink wrap. We leave a small opening at the toe rail for ventilation. It can get into the 70s and 80s on a sunny day. We take this opportunity to open the hatches and let in some of that dry Maine air.

 

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I lived aboard in Annapolis for many years and never had a condensation problem. Since you have shore power the oil filled radiators are the way to go like wingnwing suggested. I also recommend adding a few high volume fans. The trick is to keep the warm air circulating.
 

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I remember a story by Fatty Goodlander that I read in Sail Magazine. He was living aboard with his then young wife in Winthrop MA in the winter. She had been sleeping with her head up agains the hull and awoke with her hair frozen to the inside of the hull where condensation had formed. He used a hand hair dryer and hot water to free her. The point of the story was the importance of having a spouse who is a good sport when you live on a boat. Damn, I don't know if I would do it, but good luck to you.
 

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I have lived aboard in BC for most of the last 40 winters. I have an inch and a half of spray foam insulation, and an airtight woodstove, so my boat is super dry in winter.
The ceramic bead ,anti condensation, insulating paint addative , sold by Hy Tec sales in Florida , altho grossly overated for it's insulating properites, does help a lot.
 

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OK,,,I am going to steer this this topic in a slightly different direction. The liveaboards posting here seem like a different breed than those who sell their home on retirement and sail away to tropical destinations. I could be wrong, but I imagine liveaboards in colder climates still have jobs and such; they just happen to live on a boat. Is this a fair assessment. If it is, how did it happen? What moved you to move from house or apartment to live on your boat? I am really interested in the stories. If you are married, how do you talk your wife into it? I know I could, and probably would do it if I were alone, but my SO would not even consider it.
 

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Dinks14: I live in Durham, curious, where is your slip? Wife and I have been kicking around the live aboard idea . . .
I had wondered that when the 1st post came out about living aboard during the winter. I didn't know there were any year round facilites for recreational boaters on the river in the Portsmouth area.

I just figured it was like the Merrimack River in Newburyport. All the docks get pulled so the spring ice doesn't destroy them.

So where are you berthing the boat?
 

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Wing, the Espar hot air system is a "closed" combustion system. The combustion chamber is vented directly to/from the outside, separately from the cabin air feed, so the air that comes out is wonderfully warm and toasty dry. No diesel stink, no exhaust gasses, no moisture. The only reason folks don't always fall in love with them, is that there can be some issues involving proper heat-up and cool-down, they can kick and spit like camels if they get insulted. So you can't just hit the switch and walk away, like electric heat.

But oh, so toasty warm and dry!
 

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Thanx for the clarification, hellosailor. I notice that when we use our diesel heater, the boat remains more humid than when we use our reverse cycle heat pump, and assumed it was a byproduct of the combustion. Perhaps the heat pump just has a stronger air circulation fan and that's what I'm seeing the effects of?
 

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...

The condensation mostly comes around portholes in the walls, hatches in the ceiling...like the one over our bed, and under our mattress. We just spent the weekend cleaning the ensuing mildew...good times, but the beer was tasty when it was done....
Storm windows can help, both with heat and water dripping from the glass. Generally something very simple is possible that fits into the existing windows.

Sail Delmarva: A Few More PDQ Upgrades

On the non-opening hatches we have external Sunbrella covers that also help.

Eliminating moisture sources is also vital:
* dry bilge
* dry the shower after use, install small head fan, and shower ashore
* limit boiling when cooking

There is an article on desiccants coming out in Practical Sailor, but that is only for sealed storage, not live-aboard.
 

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Wing-
Two heating systems, in Florida? You sure you don't want to move to someplace, ah, warmer? (VBG)
I would guess the "drier" system is either heating the air more, or heating it in a longer passage, or doing something that gives the air more time to get dried out. Of course if it is reverse cycle on an AC system, it may really just be electric heating coils in there, which probably are the driest way to heat toast and people alike.
Maybe some day there will be a practical application of quantum particles and string theory and all that nice stuff, and we'll just be able to 'encourage' the air to get warmer and colder.
 

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LOL @ hellosailor. Really, its all a matter of acclimatization. You're typing to the girl who complained of the cold two winters ago when we spent the winter in Aruba. Any time the temp went below 82 degrees I, like the rest of the locals, reached for a sweatshirt.

Seriously, though, the reverse cycle in our boat was install by the PO when our boat was a dock queen. We put in the Webasto system to use at anchor because we thought we might want to, you know, actually TRAVEL in this thing.
 

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OK,,,I am going to steer this this topic in a slightly different direction. The liveaboards posting here seem like a different breed than those who sell their home on retirement and sail away to tropical destinations. I could be wrong, but I imagine liveaboards in colder climates still have jobs and such; they just happen to live on a boat. Is this a fair assessment. If it is, how did it happen? What moved you to move from house or apartment to live on your boat? I am really interested in the stories. If you are married, how do you talk your wife into it? I know I could, and probably would do it if I were alone, but my SO would not even consider it.
I moved aboard my first boat at age 22, finished her ,and set sail for the South Pacific at age 23. Living aboard has allowed me to semi retire in my mid 20s, working a month a year on average, and I have single handed across the Pacific 9 times, as well as cruising the BC coast 11 months a year, when not cruising down south. I have access to a huge house with a large screen TV and all the comforts. Two days there and I'm bored to death, and cant wait to get back on my boat. Cant believe people actually spend their whole lives living that way.
 

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I moved aboard my first boat at age 22, finished her ,and set sail for the South Pacific at age 23. Living aboard has allowed me to semi retire in my mid 20s, working a month a year on average, and I have single handed across the Pacific 9 times, as well as cruising the BC coast 11 months a year, when not cruising down south. I have access to a huge house with a large screen TV and all the comforts. Two days there and I'm bored to death, and cant wait to get back on my boat. Cant believe people actually spend their whole lives living that way.
Now that we're temporaraly living in a house, all I do is think about my boat (and post on sailnet). I'm planning on doing up the shop really nice so that I can spend all winter in the shop doing boat projects.

Living aboard is harder than living in a house, but it is oh-so-much more interesting.

+1 for the wood stove. I showered daily in my 31' boat, cooked and boiled a lot, and it was a sinking wooden boat so the bilge was ALWAYS very very wet. Wood stove and a few fans solved it all (except for clothes in the furthest deepest cupboards).

MedSailor
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Thank you everyone for such awesome and excellent responses.

After trying to track down "drainage mat" in lieu of hyper-vent, which I can't seem to find, I am ordering hyper-vent today. In the mean time, Jill or I flip the mattress up each day to dry it out.

With space heaters and venting, things have been much better. Although too much vent...and it gets a bit chilly.

The boat also has an electric heat/ac system. The water strainer sea water intake for the heat/ac system needed a few parts but I got that part of it figured out. It appears I have AC and a fan working...but no heat from the unit...yet. Another project. Still just the fan is good for circulating air through the ducted system. I'm just a little reluctant to leave it running all the time. Any thoughts?

I picked up some small space heaters from West Marine...they were obviously expensive from there, but seem to work well. They do seem to draw a lot of power though and must be run on separate circuits...of which for my 110v I only have 2 circuits. I might grab a few space heaters from Home Depot and experiment with those as well. Perhaps they will draw less power.

Beneath the bed are some somewhat accessible lockers. Insulating those with the reflectix seems like a great idea...and has made the project list.

Not sure how to best insulate the hatches for when it really gets cold, but I have seen some with a simple canvas on the outside while others seem to have a low profile box, with plexi-glass across the top and weather stripping on the bottom. Just got to make sure they remain operable as they are a means of egress in case **** hits the fan...

I have looked at dehumidifiers and have not made the plunge yet. There are tiny ones that remove up to 1.5 pints of water a day. Seems like a lot until you see the larger units removing 25-45 pints per day. Anybody use the real small ones? Not sure I want to give up that kind of space yet. TREILLY any idea how big your dehumidifier is?

Slayer...your story is hilarious.

Thanks again everybody!!!
 
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