Saturday, September 16, 2006

Ventilation and Moisture Control

Years ago, I found myself scrubbing the inside of my last boat every month or two because of mildew growth. The heavy dose of Clorox fumes would soon lead me to ask questions as to how others were dealing with this problem aboard. Ventilation seemed to be the answer, but in cold or inclement weather, how do you get airflow? I soon learned.

Mushroom style vents come in 3" and 4" sizes and then, you can opt for solar powered ones for daytime use or with battery backup for 24 hour duty. Of course I had to learn again, that you get what you pay for. The third set I bought were the Stainless Steel mushroom, 4" solar/battery operated models. One vent in the hatch of the forward head and one in an aft hatch, help. I found screens for the head ports so that I may leave those open as well. Now, we only had to deal with a Clorox wipe down every 6 months.

Knee surgery a few years ago, granted me some down time. Well, down in a beach chair in my garage, but not down and out! Four 4" Stainless Steel Dorades had been collecting dust for a decade until I took this opportunity to work some 5 quarter (1.25")teak boards into 4 nice Dorade boxes for Memory Rose. The process was simple and fun and progress swift. My local fabricator made some special parts to allow me to attach or detach them from the boat with one 1/2" Pan socket bolt.

Aluminum 4" pipe was threaded on one end to accept a screw in plug for weatherproofing and two ear tabs added on the sides for attachment to the top of the coach roof and pilothouse.
When installed, we were delighted at the increased air flow. Some of our boat is insulated, but not all. It helps, but having the constant flow of fresh air inside has basically negated the need for Clorox washes again. We still clean inside, but no longer because of trapped humidity. Note however, that we have not had much weather here in Florida that requires heat! We do have temps in the 40's at times during the winter and we do get condensation from us living aboard while cruising. At those times, we find the overhead is dripping with moisture from our breathing while sleeping, so before morning coffee, we wipe dry all moist surfaces in sight.

I should mention that dockside, our 16,000 BTU reverse cycle, heat/air unit has a moisture control setting which we have never needed to use. Condensation from its condenser is drained into a sump box along with head sink and shower water and pumped overboard. Also, I should mention that twenty years ago while living aboard my Morgan Out Island 41 in New York winters, I used 2 of the oil filled electric radiators, one forward, one aft, set at 600 or at most 900 watts(never needed the 1500 watt setting). The boat was always comfortable and I bet half the homes on Long Island had at least 'One' of them operating in some room. The nice attribute of that style is that their is no noise at all because there is no fan. The element heats up inside a bath of oil. Steady even temps and no noise at all.

Another area often not considered, but easy to address, is moisture within your refrigeration or freezer boxes which will cause frost on Holding Plates. Try using a small container of Damp-Rid granules in the bottom of the box, to draw out the airborne moisture. This will reduce, but not stop, frost buildup.

However, if you want to be rid of all mold and mildew, fix any leaks on deck, add ventilation, and move the boat to a desert cruising area, like Lake Powell.

Stay well and keep smiling!

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