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11 hours ago
Topic:
Panama Canal

russell.hall
Posts: 1
russell.hall
Posts: 1
Topic: Panama Canal
We are new members and are due to start our world sailing journey with our young children (5 and 7) in May this year. Our home to be (HR46 from 2000) is nearing readiness. We plan to slowly make our way to the canaries over 5 months before joining the ARC in November. Then heading West to Columbia and on to the Pacific....

Anyway to the question - Is it possible to book a Panama Canal transit before arriving in Panama? Or do you have to check in at Colon, get your yacht measured, book a transit then wait? (I’ve been to Colon before and would prefer not to spend too long there with the children.)

Thank you,

Russell, Kate and the boys.
2 days ago
Topic:
Overwintering a boat that will be unattended

Dick
Posts: 348
Hi Daria,
Another good reason to cobble together (quite easy) a bypass for the hot water heater/calorifier is that it just takes a lot of antifreeze to ensure that it has enough in it to keep from freezing. Emptying it is more of a sure thing. The by-pass may also keep your fresh water system (at least the cold water part) functional if (when) your hot water heater/calorifier goes bad.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy
3 days ago
Topic:
Overwintering a boat that will be unattended

Daria Blackwell
Administrator
Posts: 743
Drain and bypass the water heater to avoid having antifreeze residue to flush out.
Flush a small amount of vinegar and vegetable oil through heads to keep microorganisms from growing and rubber lubricated.
3 days ago
Topic:
Overwintering a boat that will be unattended

Dick
Posts: 348
Hi DHeath,
There are certain base line considerations when it comes to devising an over-wintering plan. You wrote this following Simon’s initial post with regards to very cold climate. Is that the case? Are you in water or out? Mast in or out? Do you have a caretaker who can visit say, once a month, go inside and check battery voltage and bilge? Do you have access to electricity? Will the boat be covered? How long is the lay up?
In a decision tree, each of the above considerations pushes one direction or another.
Below I have given some quick thoughts to some of your to-do list (Your thought followed by my comment. I am shooting from the hip a bit as I may not understand your particular situation/boat well, but I thought it worthwhile as we are developing a more generic plan.
My best, Dick Stevenson
You said the vessel would be un-attended: I would do my best to have someone one hand to be a caretaker. At some future date we can get into the details of what his/her inspection should entail.
fill all water tanks and add 1 tablespoon/25 US Gallons of Chlorine Bleach
I would empty all tanks in any climate. What is your thinking about filling?
check battery water (over fill about 50% of the allowable room)
Not sure this is wise, but I have not owned flooded batteries in decades. I would suggest adding that much water to charge and use the batteries for a period to ensure the new water is well mixed with the electrolyte.
drain salt water from engine
pump saltwater lines empty

Not so easy with some engines and may leave pockets of raw water. Better, perhaps, to break the raw water intake hose and put in a bucket of antifreeze with anti-corrosion properties.
pull all fuses, except bilge pump
Not sure the rational. If bilge pump is on its own circuit, as I would recommend it to be, then to use the house battery dis-connect switch should keep any power from getting to the electrical distribution panel/circuit breakers/ fuses.
empty fridge and leave open and turned off
Use this time to clean thoroughly
shut off water if connected to shore water and disconnect hose (Once a faucet did not shut all the way off and the pistol nozzle broke while we were away and only our bilge pump and an alert neighbor saved us.
Please see my write up in the Forum archives of a method to ensure that you do not sink your boat when connected to shore water supply: one of the more embarrassing ways to lose your boat.





3 days ago
Topic:
Overwintering a boat that will be unattended

Dick
Posts: 348
dheath wrote:
Simon Currin wrote:
In order to remember the lessons we have learned in recent years I would like to write a ‘best practice’ article on preparing a boat to overwinter (unattended) in very cold climates. It would be great to use this thread to collate the experiences of others.
Simon


Here is my check list. It was for our own use and may not make sense to others. I tried to clarify the tings I noticed, but feel free to ask.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>


Bring things inside
Boat hooks
stern anchor
stern line reel
MOB pole
remove headsails
tie mainsail to the boom
empty cockpit lockers
disconnect all antennas
disconnect power cords
disconnect VHF (all wires)
disconnect depth sounder (all wires)
turn on solar panel
rotate Engine to close all valves (Most engines do not have this feature)
reverse forward vents, if not in slip or on land
rig after vents for rain, make sure all vents are properly fitted.
tie engine room door open
fill all water tanks and add 1 tablespoon/25 US Gallons of Chlorine Bleach
close all ports and curtains
check battery water (over fill about 50% of the allowable room)
check bilge
lock pilot berth
rig interior for rough weather (not if on land, but we do have earthquakes)
dive on mooring
wrap cutlass bearing and prop
minimize air and cooking oil bottles that are in use, or give away (You can add water to reduce the air)
dispose of perishable food
remove flags
oil tools and vice
close water inlet and head and galley seacocks if in water. Put bronze wool or scrubby in them if on land, to keep critters out
drain salt water from engine
pump saltwater lines empty
empty teapot
lock Dinghy on cabin top
put calculators in ammo box for lightning protection
pull all fuses, except bilge pump
leave auto bilge pump in auto position and reset counter. Some open a low seacock and remove the hose, so water can exit. Or, drain at shaft log.
empty fridge and leave open and turned off
rinse stainless steel cookware and sink with freshwater. Do not use saltwater anymore
empty trash and slop bucket. (We put dry trash in a large waste basket and fruit & veg scraps in a smaller slop bucket, that we empty more often.)
put out roach proof. This is super fine boric acid. Just a very light dusting in cupboards and the sole.
http://acehardwaremaldives.com/product/outdoor-living/73862/
lock all hatches
shut off water if connected to shore water and disconnect hose (Once a faucet did not shut all the way off and the pistol nozzle broke while we were away and only our bilge pump and an alert neighbor saved us.
Stow drained water hose
put blankets and things that can fall on sole
open internal lockers, etc. for ventilation
double check that all portholes, etc are closed
check all dock lines and chafe gear


If putting antifreeze in freshwater system, be sure to remove all water first, then add special non-toxic antifreeze, and pump through the system.

When removing antifreeze, be sure to flush very well with clean water.

When returning to boat, the freshwater will not taste good until thoroughly flushed. Probably this comes from the freshwater pump diaphragms.

Put marina gate cards on chart table, in obvious spot

edited by dheath on 1/17/2019
edited by dheath on 1/17/2019
3 days ago
Topic:
Caribbean Insurance and Storage

Brendan.Cahill
Posts: 1
All

Looking for any updates on useful advise already provided here regarding where to leave a boat for the hurricane season in Grenada. Currently have quotes from Clarkes Court, Grenada Marine & Spice Island Services but struggling to differentiate except on price. Plan to leave boat on the hard for six months and for insurance purposes need to have mast removed.

Any advise welcome. Thanks B
3 days ago
Topic:
Overwintering a boat that will be unattended

dheath
Posts: 2
Simon Currin wrote:
In order to remember the lessons we have learned in recent years I would like to write a ‘best practice’ article on preparing a boat to overwinter (unattended) in very cold climates. It would be great to use this thread to collate the experiences of others.
Simon


Here is my check list. It was for our own use and may not make sense to others. I tried to clarify the tings I noticed, but feel free to ask.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>


Bring things inside
Boat hooks
stern anchor
stern line reel
MOB pole
remove headsails
tie mainsail to the boom
empty cockpit lockers
disconnect all antennas
disconnect power cords
disconnect VHF (all wires)
disconnect depth sounder (all wires)
turn on solar panel
rotate Engine to close all valves (Most engines do not have this feature)
reverse forward vents, if not in slip or on land
rig after vents for rain, make sure all vents are properly fitted.
tie engine room door open
fill all water tanks and add 1 tablespoon/25 US Gallons of Chlorine Bleach
close all ports and curtains
check battery water (over fill about 50% of the allowable room)
check bilge
lock pilot berth
rig interior for rough weather (not if on land, but we do have earthquakes)
dive on mooring
wrap cutlass bearing and prop
minimize air and cooking oil bottles that are in use, or give away (You can add water to reduce the air)
dispose of perishable food
remove flags
oil tools and vice
close water inlet and head and galley seacocks if in water. Put bronze wool or scrubby in them if on land, to keep critters out
drain salt water from engine
pump saltwater lines empty
empty teapot
lock Dinghy on cabin top
put calculators in ammo box for lightning protection
pull all fuses, except bilge pump
leave auto bilge pump in auto position and reset counter. Some open a low seacock and remove the hose, so water can exit. Or, drain at shaft log.
empty fridge and leave open and turned off
rinse stainless steel cookware and sink with freshwater. Do not use saltwater anymore
empty trash and slop bucket. (We put dry trash in a large waste basket and fruit & veg scraps in a smaller slop bucket, that we empty more often.)
put out roach proof. This is super fine boric acid. Just a very light dusting in cupboards and the sole.
http://acehardwaremaldives.com/product/outdoor-living/73862/
lock all hatches
shut off water if connected to shore water and disconnect hose (Once a faucet did not shut all the way off and the pistol nozzle broke while we were away and only our bilge pump and an alert neighbor saved us.
Stow drained water hose
put blankets and things that can fall on sole
open internal lockers, etc. for ventilation
double check that all portholes, etc are closed
check all dock lines and chafe gear


If putting antifreeze in freshwater system, be sure to remove all water first, then add special non-toxic antifreeze, and pump through the system.

When removing antifreeze, be sure to flush very well with clean water.

When returning to boat, the freshwater will not taste good until thoroughly flushed. Probably this comes from the freshwater pump diaphragms.

Put marina gate cards on chart table, in obvious spot

edited by dheath on 1/17/2019
edited by dheath on 1/17/2019
3 days ago
Topic:
Galvanic Isolation

Bill Balme
Administrator
Posts: 199
Bill Balme
Administrator
Posts: 199
Topic: Galvanic Isolation
Sorry Dick, Yes, mine is a GI...

So question is: I have one on my 110V shore power earth. My 240V supply does not have a GI on it's supply earth, but the earth of the 110V and 240V circuits are (I'm nearly positive) connected. So my question is: am I protected when connected to 240V shore power?
4 days ago
Topic:
Overwintering a boat that will be unattended

Dick
Posts: 348
Hi Simon, Yes, I would like to know more about the built-in de-humidifier. Thanks, Dick
4 days ago
Topic:
Overwintering a boat that will be unattended

Dick
Posts: 348
Hi Bill,
Not in any particular order and with respect to the numbers from your posting:
5, Living aboard is wonderful and, yes, one of the joys in the 12 years we lived aboard full time was that we did not have to winterize.
4. Antifreeze in the UK for fresh water systems, I found very much more expensive, which made winterizing far more of a challenge. I am glad to return to inexpensive antifreeze. But, I agree, when in doubt, use more.
3. A good reason to have a caretaker check occasionally and have some fresh antifreeze ready at hand to top up the bilges supply.
2. By lead acid I assume the batteries to be flooded. Flooded batteries last according to maintenance (topping up the electrolyte, charging regimen, etc.) and the quality when bought (which vary widely). Alchemy relies on good quality gel batteries which I have been very happy with for over 2 decades now and am very familiar with. That said, most cruisers who wander widely (and anchor a lot) are opting nowadays for AGMs which have a few attributes that make them a (small) step more desirable than gels.
2. I also never disconnect during winter storage.
1. There is a necessary vigilance around boats (salt water) with electricity that exceeds the vigilance necessary in other areas. We become seduced into thinking that we can operate as if we were at home on land: and we cannot. I do not like leaving boats plugged in un-attended for lengths of time. The anti is too high: when mishaps occur, they are usually serious. I am back in the Americas (Canada now) and one of the first things I did was to survey my long un-used 110 AC system and I am about to get a professional survey (something I believe every one should do every decade or so: an electrical survey by a qualified and certified marine electrician). Fires scare me more than most anything on a boat. We are upgrading our shore power plugs to “Smart Plugs”, something I believe every boat will be required to do in the future as they are so much safer and also looking into upgrading our galvanic isolator.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy
4 days ago
Topic:
Galvanic Isolation

Dick
Posts: 348
Dick
Posts: 348
Topic: Galvanic Isolation
Hi Bill,

I am no expert. My understanding:
Galvanic isolators (GIs) are not, to my knowledge, referred to as galvanic isolator transformers. They are not transformers: they just isolate. If I am correct in my former statement, I suspect you are conflating GIs with isolation transformers which are the gold standard in protecting the boat, but a whole separate order of size and complexity. It is possible that GIT may be a way of describing equipment on your side of the pond, but I have not heard it before.
A galvanic isolator (GI) is a fairly simple safety device (small in size and weight) that breaks the green ground wire of your shore power cord and the device is inserted in series. Its job is to block low voltage DC current (the kind that causes galvanic corrosion), but still allow AC current from a fault flow through thereby protecting the user from the kind of shock one might get say, from a defective toaster.

If you do have an isolation transformer (IT), unusual in cruising sailboats our size, but not unheard of (large box weighing 50-60 lbs, 20-30 kg and more complicated wiring), there are all sorts of possibilities: most are programable. Now I am operating above my pay scale, but ITs can be 1-1 (110 v to 110 v) or they can be 1-2 (110 transformed into 240 and vice versa 2-1). They also galvanically isolate, protect against some forms of shock, and ensure that the power on the boat is clean and pure and consistent even if the input power is not.
I do not believe that ITs change hertz, so one has that problem to deal with.
While on the subject, my understanding is that those of us with older boats might swap out our GIs and benefit from the advances made in design in recent years.

My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy
4 days ago
Topic:
Ilhabela, Brazil

Bill Balme
Administrator
Posts: 199
Bill Balme
Administrator
Posts: 199
Topic: Ilhabela, Brazil
Posted on behalf of POR Omar 'Wetdoc' Sanchez


South access to Ilhabela, the true sailing capital in Brazil.
Medical note: It is however also the Capital of Borrachudo (Black fly family Simuliidae), so OFF spray or insect repellent is mandatory all day. Do not underestimate the wisdom of long pants with socks and long sleeves. The feared Borrachudo is mostly diurnal, it does not make a noise when flying and generates an annoying bite that should not be scratched. Scratching only reactivates the itch: applying ice with a fabric or nylon insulator gives the best results to calm the itching.
Aids to navigation:
Although access is more picturesque in the south and inside the channel, the clubs are in the north of the island and, depending on wind and wave conditions, can be accessed outside the island. To the south of the channel, San Sebastián (SS) is the anchoring area for ​​freighters, to which we must give respect since their swings are unpredictable due to the wind pipe and the channel current. Through the port of San Sebastian, in the channel of the same name, ferries pass at all times during a 24 hour cycle, and are free for pedestrians.
The best mooring option is the Yacht Club of Ilhabela (www.yci.com.br), with Pinda Late Clube (www.pindaiateclube.org.br) as an option a little further south.
Glossary: ​​to understand the radial language you have to go over some tips of everyday language. When you talk about channel 68/69 you do not talk about channel six oito / six nove, but about meia oito / meia nove, the average (6) is for half a dozen.
Call prefixes: YCI Delta 24 on channel 68 of VHF, and Pinda responds to Delta 56 on channel 68 of VHF. It is common that they move to channel 69 (meia nove).
The YCI has buoys with a gauze (roupe) on its top, but this is not for taking moorings, it is for hoisting the hawser that is half-full and that comes up full of sharp mussels. Gloves are recommended. Some buoys, like the 88, have two hawsers and these are reserved for boats of more than 20 tons.
Safety: every 6 hours, regardless of the weather, the sailors check all the moorings, modify them or call the captain, according to need. It is remarkable to see their boat in the evening and in the middle of the storm reviewing and noting the mooring status.
A visitor can use the facilities ashore as these are top quality; the wifi has moved to the computer room that is now a splendid gym. The showers are generous but I recommend turning on the ceiling fans as the roof is the Borrachudos aircraft carrier! The first 5 days on the buoys are free, and you can extend one more day due to bad weather. The remaining days have an accessible rate. Visitors can access the marinas with their boat but only for two hours, for services, washing and making water. They have only two drinking water hoses.
The club has started a strong management campaign in favor of ecology and taking care of garbage. They do not want to repeat the errors of other latitudes (Sau de Ceu) that have caused irreparable damage to the waters.
The fuel station can be accessed inside or outside the club, closes at 6 pm, accepts cards. Most importantly, it has Verana diesel, the Petrobras special, which is superior and free of contaminants and water! The station offers fuels, some filters and spare parts, a small shop, has containers to discard liquid fuels and containers for solids. Drinking water is charged for, a few Reais ( local money) for every 10 minutes but with a hose of excellent pressure.
If you arrive during commercial hours it is better to take a mooring at the station, take on fuel, and water and discards, and from there request a buoy for anchoring. A dinghy will indicate the buoy and eventually help with the maneuver. You can also call in navigation, about 15 minutes before arrival.
The YCI has a wharf dock on the south side, but offers a very efficient disembarkation service by means of club boats. When disembarking, all the ship papers, prefecture, customs and passports or ID of the crew must be presented. This admission office requests a photocopy of everything, which can be done at the club's headquarters, but it is less complicated to arrive with all the photocopies and thus be released without pain. Each crew member is given a magnetic card that allows access to different sectors of the club and re-entry from abroad. The card must be returned on the last day of stay.
Within a few blocks there are sailmakers, a rigging service, mechanics, nautical businesses, etc. Also the bus to the shopping center and ferry station. Near the station there is a large North Sails loft.
In the vicinity of the Pinda Club there is an area delimited by yellow buoys. This is a prohibited for anchoring zone, as the high voltage cables that feed the island lie on the bottom.
A few blocks away is the historic center, with various souvenir shops and a supermarket. When the tourists off the mega cruise ships leave, posters miraculously appear: 50% off !!
The exchange house gives an always unfavorable rate. There are many ATMs. The laundry is very expensive.
Restaurant recommended: MaxPaladar, you have to walk away or take the bus, but it is worth visiting this "food per kilo" restaurant, which only opens at noon. Near the clubs there are a wide variety of restaurants for all tastes and budgets.
Bureaucracy: in case you have to do the paperwork, you have to take the bus or taxi to the ferry station. UBER gives an error on the island. The delegation of the federal police of San Sebastian downtown does not come any more to the boats, it is necessary to go to the NEPON inside the commercial port about 200 meters on the ferry station side of SS. Only the captain can enter, with all the papers and documents, but in case of problems with the language they allow a second crewmember to enter. Within the port you have to walk about 400 meters, so you have to take precautions on rainy days or intense sun. Go from there to the Captaincy (Prefecture) which has a large building overlooking the Ferry station.
Download the tracks for Garmin (gdb), GPS, MapSource and nRoute,
See the visual track.
Alert: About 30 nm south of Ilhabela respect should be given to the Ilha de Alcatrazes and the area that is forbidden to navigate.
Approximate position Ilha de Alcatrazes S24 05 W45 40.
Although there was some relaxation and opening in the last year, visits are limited to tourist boats who are duly registered for the activity.
Photogallery: https://www.flickr.com/photos/15309279@N06/sets/72157701778264552


Omar Wetdoc
4 days ago
Topic:
Galvanic Isolation

Bill Balme
Administrator
Posts: 199
Bill Balme
Administrator
Posts: 199
Topic: Galvanic Isolation
I am confused as to what a galvanic isolation transformer (GIT) is and what/how it does.

Ours is an American boat - with 110V circuits and 'protected' by a galvanic isolation transformer.
The previous owner also installed a 240V Generator and added a few 240V circuits in Toodle-oo!

I am now plugged into 240V shore power and realize that I don't have a GIT specific to that circuit... - or do I? Since it operates on the earth, is the GIT working no matter what shore supply is applied? (I'm 98% sure that the earth of both circuits is connected!)

I have not noticed significant anode erosion in the past - I guess I'll find out how badly I screwed up in a couple of weeks when they haul the boat!
4 days ago
Topic:
Overwintering a boat that will be unattended

Bill Balme
Administrator
Posts: 199
1. Dehumidifiers: In the past I've left the boat without dehumidifier but vented (4 dorades and vents in the shrink wrap covering)) - no detrimental effects. No significant mold either. Last month when I left the boat for just 2 weeks in damp Whitehaven, I left the portable dehumidifier (running without qualms) but stupidly, did not connect the outflow hose correctly, so it stopped after filling up the first tray! (Idiot!) Note: We did nearly burn our boat down last year in the Caribbean when we left the Christmas lights on while ashore for a drink - the extension cord connection sitting on top of the sail cover melted - fortunately the inverter tripped off before serious damage occurred. Now I always check the condition of the plug and socket - to me the weakest link in the circuit as all other connections should be solid.

2. Batteries: I have lead acid, never disconnected them during the winter, never stored them elsewhere. Never had particularly good life out of them either! - but I suspect life was more due to poor usage than storage...

3. Bilge pump - I always leave on since water does enter through mast, etc. I constantly worried that antifreeze in the bilge would become so diluted as to not be effective - so far it's never frozen and while New England is not the coldest spot, it's not exactly balmy either!

4. Antifreeze usage - in New England I would typically use at least twice as much antifreeze as anyone else! Probably because I was doing it wrong or stupidly - but I wanted to be sure I got every bit of hose & pump covered. So far never lost anything due to freezing and the stuff is so cheap that I consider it good insurance.

5. Living aboard is so much easier - I haven't winterized anything this winter as the boat is being kept nice and cozy - previous two years we solved it by heading to the Caribbean!
5 days ago
Topic:
Overwintering a boat that will be unattended

Simon Currin
Administrator
Posts: 785
Dick all understood. When next aboard I will, for completeness, dig out the make and specification of our dehumidifier. Being built in I have no idea what brand etc it is.
Simon
edited by simoncurrin on 1/16/2019
5 days ago
Topic:
Overwintering a boat that will be unattended

Dick
Posts: 348
Hi Simon,
Thanks for the info: I do not believe I know of any other cruiser with a built-in de-humidifier.
To be clear, I have no knowledge of built in de-humidifiers such as you have aboard Shimshal. I was using your comments to respond generally to de-humidifiers that much more commonly find themselves aboard cruising boats. The ones I was referring to are the household type de-humidifiers that are about suitcase size. I know of no significantly sized portable de-humidifier built with the marine environment/being-on-a boat in its design parameters.
I am unable to cite sources, but I remember at least 2 articles/notices in the UK slicks (probably able to be found) when I was cruising those waters and, of course, there is the first-hand observation I mentioned in my previous posting. I would not bring it up, but I do believe the portable household de-humidifiers are an unnecessary risk and that a sweet boat unaffected by mold etc. can usually be achieved with-out this risk, small as it may be.
My best, Dick
5 days ago
Topic:
Overwintering a boat that will be unattended

Simon Currin
Administrator
Posts: 785
Dick

I, of course, agree ventilation is important and we have dorades too.

In damp, cold climates such as Scotland and Iceland then dehumidifying makes a great difference to comfort when on board. It’s something to do with the latent heat of evaporation if my school boy physics is correct. That is primarily why we had a permanently installed dehumidifier specified when we built our current boat. It sucks in moist air from the saloon and pumps dry air fore and aft to ensure good air circulation. The condensate is pumped directly overboard and does not accumulate in the bilges. It is a 240 volt AC device which has a very stable power supply through our isolating transformer. It has it’s own RCD breaker and thermal protection circuits. I believe the risk of fire is miniscule. Famous last words!

We always leave all cupboards open and cushions away from the hull but have no reservations about leaving the dehumidifier on when left unattended and when there is a reliable power supply.

I accept that there is no need to do this in very cold climates but I would prefer my boat to over winter at a lower humidity than the ambient humidity present in Scotland and Iceland during winter.

We spent two winters afloat in Reykjavik with free electricity and advise anyone doing likewise to leave their dehumidifiers set to 80% or less for entire winter.

In Newfoundland and in Greenland we left the dehumidifier on for the autumn when there would be freeze / thaw cycles. We know that the power will be disconnected through the depths of winter but the hope is that the boat will be by then frozen.

I would be interested to hear about the incidence of fires caused by these devices. It is not something I had considered.

Simon
5 days ago
Topic:
Overwintering a boat that will be unattended

Dick
Posts: 348
Hi Simon,
Even if the AGM batteries were above 12.0 rather than 12.7, I believe that is charge enough to protect them from most freezing temperatures likely encountered and that capacity to hold a charge over 9 months is impressive. Dick
5 days ago
Topic:
Overwintering a boat that will be unattended

Dick
Posts: 348
Hi Simon and all,
I apologize in advance, Simon, for using your comment to kick off from and write about the wider issue of unattended de-humidifiers and storage. And I do know yours is a built-in unit: I am speaking of the suitcase size household units that many skippers, I noticed, in cooler/colder climes use 24/7 when not aboard. Sometimes this is a full winter storage and sometimes this is from weekend to weekend when not aboard and the boat is waiting for its next outing.
The argument in favor of doing this is that the boat remains sweat and mold free and onboard equipment is likely to be freer of problems. The latter may be true, but with high quality equipment, I doubt it, but the former is definitely true for many boats. Some dehumidifiers also impart a bit of warmth, which I am sure the boat appreciates as well.
I am perfectly clear that when living aboard in cool/cold climates, a dehumidifier is an absolute must (at least for Ginger and I who prize comfort and in no way want our cruising lives to approach camping). Some very stalwart souls can live in boats that they keep open in all but the coldest weather, but we like a warm cozy cabin and, without a dehumidifier, we would soon have condensation covering the inside of the boat and start mold everywhere.
I would want to make the case that the proliferation of de-humidifying devices one sees in the marine market (gels, electric etc.) is directly related (at least to some extent) to how poorly ventilated modern boats are nowadays. Manufacturers are saving money by not ensuring that their boats can be well ventilated. Good ventilation when rain is falling, when salt water is flying costs money, but is never a deciding factor in purchasing.*
So, I believe that de-humidifiers are a great boon to comfort (and the ship’s well-being) when living aboard, but I think it is fairly easy to make the case that leaving dehumidifiers going un-attended is playing a bit of Russian roulette with the chance of a fire. I know of numerous reports of this occurring and have seen first hand the melting insulation, smoke and char of a de-humidifier about the go to the next stage of a live-aboard neighbor in London.
This worry about de-humidifiers and their potential for fire, I would guess, just escalates in those locations where the cleanliness of the power feed may not be so well regulated (voltage spikes and drops, varying hertz). As well, it should be noted, that de-humidifiers are built to a price and designed with the expectation that they will be used in a home with good power, in a secure location and not moved around all the time (a typical life of a d-h on a boat).
I would want to suggest that the safest way to leave a boat, whether for a winter or for a week or two between sails, is for the vessel to be well ventilated and “allowed” to equalize with the ambient air, temperature and humidity. If your vessels ventilation can’t ventilate well enough to mirror the outside conditions, then I would suggest doing something about it: if only because when offshore, life below will be a misery at times. An added benefit is that you do not have to leave your boat plugged in when un-attended: a practice which, while likely to generally work out, but when it goes awry can lead to problems, especially when no one is around to catch problems in the making.
But my position does not lead inexorably to a moldy un-sweet boat when skipper and crew return to it. For example: Alchemy has adequate ventilation (two dorades in a 40-foot hull) which, when we are gone, we augment with the shower portlight being left open and a portable solar fan in an access hole to the engine area. Usually this is enough. The next level is to ensure cushions are “ajar” and the cabinets etc. are open, done to ensure air gets into the nooks and crannies. I suspect this might not suffice in some locations (The Rio Dulce in Guatemala for ex.), but this has worked for us in over-wintering spots from southern Turkey to London to Lerwick, the Shetland Islands. In these weather-disparate weather locations we have returned to a boat that was sweet and habitable.
All is not lost if your boat is not adequately ventilated, augmenting can usually be done. Best might be to add dorades (or dorade equivalent scoops as that will help underway as well). This is often more easily accomplished than initially supposed. In storage portlights can be left open such as the shower portlight. Where rain might get in where one does not want it, there are commercial “hoods” or one could cobble together portlight covers for the winter. If the boat is covered for the winter, worries are over: leave lots open and the boat will equalize with the outside. Some skippers effectively and permanently install solar fans, but location would be important as I am not sure how water-tight they are when flooded with green water.
Please come back with thoughts/comments.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy
*Ventilation is also a huge issue at sea. A poorly ventilated vessel makes for unhappy, seasick, uncomfortable crew at sea and borders on a safety issue in certain conditions. Many purchase their boats with little consideration of this important factor. (Alchemy, with its 2 dorades, when underway and closed up in rain or wild conditions can get stuffy down below. This is especially the case downwind when the dorades do little to contribute to ventilation. Multiple interior fans help a great deal as even stuffy air is made more acceptable by movement.)
5 days ago
Topic:
Overwintering a boat that will be unattended

Dick
Posts: 348
Hi Simon,
I know you have built in de-humidifying. Can you say more about it? The equipment, how it works, dissicant? , power draw etc. Thanks, Dick




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