Keeping the Boat Cosy, Warm and Dry


Fixing a Cold Wet Boat

I know a thing or two about this subject, but it is covered elsewhere on the site, so I'll condense it. When I first moved on our boat in 2001 the only heating I had was an old gas fire. My first winter was spent wringing wet with condensation. Not good.

The heating on boats varies almost as much as the boats themselves. Older cruisers for instance may still have their original gas fire, and what a nightmare they are! My first winter of living on board, that is 2001 - 2002 wasn't that cold, but the gas fire that was my only onboard heat was burning 13kgs of gas a week! I have no idea how much water is produced by one kilo of propane, but it does appear to be somehow disproportionate. Everything was sodden wet, everything.

If you are considering installing any kind of gas fire, get a modern one that vents outside. It will prevent you from dying of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning, and will help your boat stay dry.

Multifuel Stove

A Popular Solution - The Woodburning Stove

A firm favourite - tried and tested - I've got one! Almost standard equipment in a majority of narrow boats, but can be fitted in modern cruisers and old wooden boats like mine too. The fuel is cheap, or even free if you use the wood that is freely available on the banks of the inland waterways systems. The major benefit? A dry boat! As these stoves consume fuel, the waste products are drawn up the chimney. In the process, fresh air is drawn into the boat and older air is removed by combustion from the boat taking dampness away too. Using a stove like this can leave spaces heated this way almost completely condensation free, almost like magic!

A back boiler is beneficial too. If you've read my calorifier page you'll know that the back boiler can be connected to supply you with hot domestic water.


A Solution Favoured by Many is Diesel Blown Air Heating

Diesel hot air heating does have its advantages it's true. It is clean and leaves no ash, smell or smoke. The downsides are firstly the cost. A new system for a 30 foot boat could easily set you back (here in the UK) more than £1000. Another downside is the cost of red diesel. Since derogation (the removal of our UK tax break agreement with the EU) the cost of our native red diesel now matches that of road diesel, and even with the 60/40 split currently in place, it is still relatively quite expensive.

If you are only going to use your boat in the warmer months, with occasional winter visits, this may well be the way to go. Diesel hot air blowers use heat exchangers. The flame and the fumes exit the boat via an exhaust and a fan blows over the (sealed) combustion area. This has the effect of blowing DRY heat around the boat. No condensation is experienced from the burning of the fuel because they use a heat exchanger.

It is essential that the unit gets clean fuel and you must have good batteries to avoid problems.

Eberspacher D2 diesel heater

The picture above is a section of an Eberspacher D2 Airtronic unit - Other types are available.