As much as I hate it winter is on the way and in many places here in force.  I personally am not a fan of the cold; in fact I will start complaining when it gets below 60. So at times like these I think about heat in the boat and not just heat but backup heat.

I use a reverse cycle air-conditioner for heat on Vayu and it works well, very well really and I stay toasty warm even when it is in the 20’s outside. The only problem is this needs AC shore power to work as I do not have a generator. This shortens our overnight sailing season somewhat as being the cold wimp I am I do not like to anchor out when it starts to fall below 50 at night.

I have been looking at alternatives for some type of heat that I can use while at anchor. I thought about the bulkhead mount heaters that can use diesel or propane but with diesel you get the smell and with propane you have added danger of gas leaks. I also did not really want to install a hole in the cabin top for a chimney, seems like it would be yet another leak source. So it looked like the only alternative was one of those forced air type diesel heaters. Truckers use these as cab and sleeper heaters and most cruisers that have them seem to like them. The only problem is they are very expensive even when purchased used and they require a fairly complicated installation with wiring, ducts, fuel lines and exhaust fittings.

They are safe and do not smell so this is what I had been thinking til I ran into a friend who took his boat out on a particularly cold weekend. I knew he did not have a heater or generator so I asked what he did to stay warm. He told me he used an alcohol heater. Well duh the light bulb went on. I had completely forgotten about those little Origo heaters that have a fiber wick. 

Now of course West Marine wanted way too much for one of those little heaters, so I turned to the source I use for so much of my boat equipment, EBay! For $25.00 plus shipping I got a slightly beat up heater. I have yet to fully test it but I think it will do fine as a backup and for use on those cooler nights at anchor. These things are simple but very clean, make no noise and use no power, what could be better. They are safe and if you use a CO monitor it think will work well.  The fuel is a bit expensive but then again this is not my main heat source so that is not a big issue.

Surprisingly these little heaters with few moving parts put out a lot of heat. This one is rated at 5000 BTU and seems to do a good job of warming the boat up. I will have to try it out when it gets a bit cooler but I think it will work well as a backup heater. Now if I could just figure out where to store it onboard.

Capt. Wayne


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