Coming back to a cold, dark boat after a couple of months can either be a dream or a nightmare. In 2014, when Dauntless was in Waterford, I still remember getting back to the boat in late afternoon.
It wasn’t even 5 p.m. but it was already dark.
And cold, the temperature about 38°F (The weatherman in me remembers this, but not what I had for dinner yesterday!). As I dragged my suitcase over the cap rail, I was careful not to let it fall in the water again like I had done while leaving the boat two months earlier.
As I got inside and turned on some electric breakers, I fumbled through the boat to turn on some lights. In those early years, if the batteries were fully charged, I was happy. But the boat was cold, and I was exhausted having left New York 24 hours ago, with little sleep in the meantime.
Dauntless did not have the Wallas forced air diesel heater at the time. Dauntless did and still has the two main A/C units, one with a heating element, the other with a reverse cycle heating option, but at these temperatures, neither is very efficient and often they would trip the shore breaker with its meager power.
No hot water yet, it would be hours before I had hot water and it never occurred to me to just heat up a pot of water.
Again, I vividly remember crawling into bed and my first thought was that I had a leak over the bed, as it felt wet. This had happened before, when the water channels overflow because the drains are clogged with debris in the bow deck locker.
I felt the ceiling but found no water. I got out of bed to try to determine where the bed was wet. From top to bottom, I could find no discernible difference. Maybe it wasn’t wet, just cold?
After 15 minutes of examinations, I resigned myself sleeping in a cold, damp bed.
By morning, the bed was warm, and the cabin was warm thanks to a little electric heater. Hot water was also plentiful. Life was returning to normal. I now took the time to check the rest of the boat and like always, then, and now, the bilges were dry, and the boat had no smells.
A smelling boat has always been an issue for me, since I don’t hear very well, don’t see very well, but my sense of smell is great. So, I’ve always been meticulous sensitive to smells. In my search for the boat that would be Dauntless, there were some boats that in the first 5 seconds, I knew that this was not the boat to be, because of how it smelled.
So, I’ve always been sensitive to what can cause those smells. On boats, it’s usually dampness, sanitation system and sometimes cooking. On Dauntless, my storm windows, had the effect of stopping virtually all condensation on the inside windows, a major source of dampness in a boat. I am also fanatical about the sanitation hoses. In normal use, I would flush the two Raritan toilets a few extra times per day, just to minimize the waste sitting in the sanitation hoses. If leaving the boat for any length of time, I had a specific process. I would run hot water and bleach through each toilet for 5 minutes to make sure there was no waste in the hoses nor the Purisan processing tank. Additionally, I always keep water and bleach in the holding tank when not in use.
I also put a small aquarium water pump in the forward bilge, so I can pump out any water that the larger bilge pump can’t get. It’s worked well in keeping the forward bilge dry, though it will never be bone dry as it is connected to the chain locker.
Fast forward to today and Dauntless is now much easier to return to.
As before, no smells like normal, but now, she’s easier to bring back to livability.
For one, when I turn on the electric breakers, all the lights also come on, as I have everything on when shutting down, that way I can also check that all power to boat lights are off, as we leave. So immediately, the boat is fully light. I also added a light to the panel, so I can actually see what I am turning on/off in a dark cabin.
The Wallas heater is easy to start. Turn on the breaker and hold down the on button. We’re good to go. Now, the boat won’t get hot right away, but like the water heater, by the next morning, it will be good.
The water heater is now a 20-gallon water heater, which was great for the three of us. It will take a few hours to get hot water, but now I know to just make a kettle of hot water to wash of the evening.
For the last three years, we also had an Ivation dehumidifier. This is critical to keep dampness and moisture out of the boat for liveaboards and this type works well in cool temperatures.
I’ve saved the best part for last. The warm bed. Since the Ireland days, I’ve gotten a heated mattress pad. Everyone north of the Bahamas, should have one. Last night, I turned on the heating pad and by the time we were ready to go to bed an hour later, the bed was warm and toasty. Since the Wallas heater will take a while to warm the boat, this heated mattress pad allowed us to sleep nice and cozy in a relatively cold cabin. A must have in my opinion. By the way, in the last 5 years, I’ve had three different pads, the first one was 12 volts, was great and lasted 3 years. But it’s replacement, from the same company, only lasted two months. So, I switched to a 120-volt pad two years ago and it has worked flawlessly, with no transformer issues like some 120 volt pads and why I stayed away from them initially. The current on is a MaxKare Heated Mattress Pad from Amazon.
So, dream or nightmare. Clearly a dream, having learned what to do and how to do it, in the subsequent years, since the nightmare.
And I’ve yet to whack my elbows or shins yet, but I still have time.