Come on in; the Water’s Fine

Posted: December 1, 2012

OK, maybe not the water, but the cruising is great.

By: John Beatty

We cruise in the winter. It makes the investment in our boat more justifiable. Did I say investment? Justifiable? Well … that is a subject for another day. So, we do go cruising when the daily high temperature drops below 50 degrees and daylight only lasts eight and a half hours as opposed to 16 hours at summer solstice. Cruising during these two vastly different times of year comes down to three factors: heat, ventilation and light.


Warming Up

During the summer, a small space heater and some A/C power will take the chill off a July morning in the San Juan Islands. To fully heat our Krogen 42 on colder days, we have a Hurricane system, similar to diesel/hydronic systems from other manufacturers. Our 40,000 Btu furnace heats and circulates an antifreeze mixture to several small radiators in each living space. “Muffin fans” draw just a few DC amps as they push air across the radiators and into the cabin. Thermostats control the fans and keep the temperature where we want it. The system also heats the domestic water. If the interior of your vessel is one large space, a small wood or diesel-fired stove would also work for you.


Ventilation & Circulation

Now the boat is warm, and we are under way. The warm air holds more water vapor, and when that vapor hits the cold glass it fogs. To keep the windshield clear requires drier air. We do not have air conditioning, and none of our heated air is directed to the windshield — an unfortunate installation error — so the best we can do is use fans to keep the air circulating. (Speaking of windshields, I cannot say enough about Rain-X to improve visibility when the windshield is wet from rain or spray.)


Once at our destination, we keep heat in the boat and control the extra moisture held by the warm air by putting our canvas window covers on the pilothouse windows and closing the salon curtains when the sun goes down, at 4:30 p.m. in the Northwest. The pilothouse is isolated from the rest of the boat for the evening with a canvas curtain that attaches in the passageway with Velcro. The moisture created by two people sitting and reading is considerable, so we limit our activity. Dinner plans may have to change.


Barbecues may not be much fun in the cold and dark, but boiling a nice pot of pasta for dinner will practically start a rain shower inside a closed-up boat, so along with walking and shopping, we find good places to eat. The cook likes this.


Lack of Light

The lack of light in winter changes what we do and the destinations we pick. A dinghy ride to a secluded island beach may not be appealing on a blustery winter day, and we are not as determined to “get away from it all.” We look for towns with places to walk and shop. There are always logs floating in the inland waters of the Northwest, which makes cruising at night nerve-racking, so we avoid it. We find it prudent to allow extra time to reach our destination before dark, in case the currents are greater than we predict.


Dodging logs and entering a harbor in the dark is not a required (or recommended) part of pleasureboating.


If you go cruising in winter, you will find quieter marinas with lots of space, winter festivals and Christmas parades. The video and DVD systems that don’t necessarily get as much use during the summer may see more action, because you tend to spend a bit more time indoors on a winter cruise. Do you remember how to make yours work?


Posted By: Melody On: 12/20/2013

Title: Winter cruising

My husband and I are full time live aboards who also cruise in the winter. We have found that running a dehumidifier whenever we run our generator helps with the moisture problem.
We run it daily for about 2 hours when we are at home. Boiling water can cause fogging, but it usually is gone within an hour or so.

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