Ken Goodings and Lynn Kaak moved aboard their Niagara 35, moored in Toronto Harbour, in the fall of 2003, after “selling up” and committing to the liveaboard life. With reports from Ken and Lynn, we shall follow their adjustment to this lifestyle and their continuing adventures
Heating on a Yacht – “Shiver me Timbers”
It was very cold in the boat last night. We got home from the mid-week boating class graduation ceremony for Toronto Power Squadron around 11:30pm. Lynn has been teaching the class twice a year now. I’m a course proctor and it’s fun to keep our navigation and plotting skills sharpened.
On the previous Saturday night the drains froze in the marina’s toilet, shower & laundry building. We were able to use the washroom and showers in the nearby Harbourfront Community Centre. We might have traveled to our workplace to use the showers at Ryerson University, but the campus had been evacuated due to a downtown electrical outage. We now leave the cold-water taps trickling in the marina washrooms and laundry room.
On that cold Wednesday night, our aft quarter berth was a bit wet in one corner under Lynn’s pillow. Hull condensation from under the bubble pack and camping foam hull insulation had trickled down to freeze along the outer edge of the berth’s deck. The woven venting material that we have as an under layer had been trimmed away a bit too much under that corner, allowing the berth’s bottom sheet to wick up some moisture.
Lynn and I retired to two saloon settees settling into two individual sleeping bags for the night. Our usual cold weather bedtime ritual is to microwave three bags of fabric neck warmers, which are stuffed with oats. We put them into our bed to pre-warm it. It wasn’t enough really, and by 6am I was frozen stiff! In this mid-winter weather we really need to have two bodies in one bed for that connubial warmth-sharing thing! The temperature in the saloon was only around 15C with both 1300-Watt electric/oil radiator heaters on full, in addition to the 400-Watt heater beside the companionway. We have a fourth 1200-Watt fan-forced heater in the engine space, which managed to keep it at 10C, even with the cool air infiltrating from under the cockpit seat locker hatches.
We’re considering either a forced air diesel fuelled furnace in the engine space or a fan forced propane fireplace on one of the bulkheads in the saloon.
A diesel furnace would produce 6,800 BTU while running on medium, consuming 0.34 L/hr. It would run 267 hours on our main 20-gallon diesel tank, drawing 3.3A DC from the house battery bank. The furnace would require ducting to deliver the hot air to the saloon, possibly run through the head area and warming everything along the path.
A 9,000 BTU propane fireplace produces 6,248 BTU on low (with it’s fan running) and lasts 140 hours on a 20 LB propane tank. The fireplace comes complete with a heat shield back plate and a coaxial “Charley Noble” vent stack. This serves as a combustion air intake and fume exhaust. I’ll also have to include the cost of a long propane hose from the propane locker and an appropriate “tee” and a ball valve.
The harbour is completely frozen over. It’s quite beautiful. On Sunday I rescued one of the Arctic long-tailed ducks, which migrate to Toronto harbour every winter. They sleep on the ice behind our boat and one had its wing tip frozen into the ice. I broke up the ice around it with a long stick until it was able to break free and swim away. It must have thought I was trying to swat it over the head but all went well. That evening the duck was back again, sitting in the same place behind our boat. They don’t eat anything but the small fish, which they dive for. I can’t imagine why she came back to the boat. Funny, a duck that won’t eat bread crumbs. Oh well, there are lots of greedy mallards and big white swans who do!
Our two 3/4 hp “Ice Eaters” are working flawlessly. Many unfortunate winter neighbours have other brands of de-icers, which seem to have burnt out and failed when most needed. They’re out there bashing away the ice from around their hulls with 2×4’s every morning and evening. I’m glad that we didn’t try to buy cheap units, or try to get away with only one de-icer for a 35-foot boat.
All is OK now at the marina, and I can’t wait until I can do a laundry. I’m outta clean sox! Only 6 more pump outs until spring!
Lynn Kaak Silverheels III – You can catch up with Lynn and Ken’s blog at – The Voyages of Silverheels III
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