winter liveaboard?

Ryan Meador

Hi all,
I pains me to be thinking about winter already, but I need to plan ahead.  I'm going to be spending this winter in Boston, MA, USA aboard my new-to-me Super Maramu.  Does anyone have any tips for living aboard a SM in a cold climate?  I'm no stranger to living aboard in this climate in general, as I've spent the last 7 winters here aboard my old Gulfstar 37.  I'm looking for SM-specific tips and tricks, if anyone has any.

The weather here goes well below freezing at times in the winter; I've seen as low as -10F/-23C.  We also get lots of snow.  Despite this, the water rarely freezes and bubblers are not typically used.  It is standard practice here to shrinkwrap the boats in clear plastic, which keeps a lot of heat in and makes for a great greenhouse effect on a sunny day, not to mention keeping the snow off the boat.

Is the built-in electric heat on the SM sufficient for this climate, or will I have to install supplementary heating like I had on my old boat?  On that boat, I had an Espar forced-air diesel heater which did a great job.  I'd rather not have to install such a thing on my SM for several reasons, such as cost, not wanting to mess with the Amel design, and hoping to sail south in a year or two so I won't get the ROI.  If you did install extra heating, what type of system did you use?  Would you recommend it?

Is the SM fairly well insulated?  Has anyone had trouble with condensation?  I feel like the cored deck and cloth-lined lockers will offer pretty good insulation, but I'm also concerned about that cloth getting wet from condensation and molding.  I'm also surprised/amazed that all of the lockers have solid doors; most boats have ventilated lockers to prevent condensation even in summer.  But clearly Amel has solved this problem, so perhaps it will work in winter too.

SM 233 Iteration (ex Monarae)
Boston, MA, USA

For two people living permanently on am SM2K, we find in cool climates you need the following to avoid damage from condensation arising from high humidity.

1.  Always run the kitchen exhaust fan while using propane.
2.  Run at least two dehumidifiers permanently.  We have the Eva-Dry EDV-2200 with peltier technology, which is a bit of a joke and is not sufficient if people are living on the boat.  Don't recommend it.  We also have the DeLonghi DNC 65 with desiccant technology, highly recommended for low power use averaging about 50W, low noise, small size, and ability to keep dehumidifying even at low ambient temps when we are out and about.  Runs in the U.S. if you run it from your 50Hz inverter.
3.  Run the Eberspächer diesel heater at least once a day and for at least one hour.
4.  On any days with low ambient humidity, open all hatches and run fans.
5.  Install humidity monitors throughout the boat, and especially in the problem area on the berth above the batteries.  About $40 total.
6.  Open cabinet doors and rotate stored clothes as needed.


SM2K N. 350
En route, Thermopylae to Skiathos


I lived on a boat for 15 years in cool San Francisco, which pales in comparison to winter in Boston.  But I'll second the comment that moisture is the enemy.  Every breath you take adds water to the air, and if that water is not removed, it will condense on the cold hull and cause no ends of problems.

The only way to get keep condensation from forming is to remove the water.  Either with a dehumidifier or through ventilation--or both.  The problem is the colder it gets, the less ventilation you want because it is... well... cold!

I had a in-cabin heater, a Dickenson diesel fuel model that was great at keeping things warm and dry on a 40 foot boat down to 20 degrees or so.  It would do the main saloon on a SM, but not the whole boat in Boston temperatures.  It's also a major installation project.

Some other simple hints...  
  • Shower at the gym or at work if you can.  Showers add HUGELY to the water load in the air. 
  • When cooking, keep the pots covered, and simmer as low as possible.  
  • Get an electric mattress pad.  That and a fluffy duvet will give you a sense of well being in a blizzard.  
  • Have a plan of action about what you will do if there is an electrical outage when the temperature is well below freezing.
  • Be really careful on deck when it is frosty!  It is VERY slippery.
Bill Kinney
SM160, Harmonie
Gloucester, Maine