Sunday, November 18, 2012

By Michael

Here condensation drips from the
intersection of the deck underside and
ceilings inside a locker inside the head.
All of that black stuff? Mold that
wasn't there two months ago.
That is, the insulation that isn't built into Del Viento. Our decks and cabin top are foam cored, but otherwise we are solid glass through-and-through. Until now, I never fully appreciated the ramifications of this: condensation and all it means to life aboard a boat.
The entire Del Viento crew now fully appreciates the ramifications of incomplete insulation.  

Do you ever wake up to water dripping on your face, your own breath condensing on the inside of the cold cabin top above you? I do. When you change your sheets, do they come off the bed cold and wet where they were tucked under the mattress, evidence of the moisture trapped beneath? Mine do. When you’re cooking dinner on the stove, does condensation drip into your pots from above? It happens here. 
Our saving grace are the ceilings along the insides of the hull. (Aboard a boat, ceilings are not above your head, they are slats affixed longitudinally on the 'walls,' to cover hull framing.) I always thought they were a decorative nod to the interior of a wood boat—now I know better, they shield us from condensation. But the ceilings are in the cabin and lockers, not in the lower stowage spaces, such as under the settees and v-berth. And ceilings aren't on the vertical sides of the coach roof (where the portlights are). Condensation is happening aboard Del Viento.

So, we are experimenting with lower heater settings at night and increased ventilation. We're clearing out crammed lockers and going through a lot of vinegar. We try and keep as much moisture out of the boat as possible, but it drizzles a lot in Victoria and with four wet bodies going in and out... We may buy some Golden Rods or a dehumidifier (or both, please leave a comment if you have experience with these). There are more extensive insulation-related steps we could take to mitigate the problem, but our time in these northern lats is relatively short. But we’ll see, we've only dipped our toes into the winter ahead.
In Mexico, it always seemed to Windy and I that we met a disproportionate number of cruisers from the Pacific Northwest region of the U.S. and Canada, given the number of boats and marinas up and down the California coast. I think I now know why.

Drip, drip, drip…

Frances prefers the newspaper not be only black and white.
Life goes on in the main cabin despite condensation issues.
Affected mostly are the lockers and sleeping areas.

One day, this brand new aluminum cat showed up on the
transient dock next to us. It is a pilot boat built across the
way in Port Angeles by Armstrong Marine for the country
of Guatemala. It is headed for Puerto Quetzal, where Windy
and I anchored the first Del Viento back in 1997.


  1. Nothing like rain inside the boat... Just wait until your underwear freezes to the side of the hull:) Here's a few tips from an old article I wrote

  2. We lived on a boat in the inner harbour for 2 winters and found that having a "plug in" dehumidifier was extremely helpful. We emptied a lot of water out of that sucker over the course of a winter.
    Also you can buy purpose made liners that go under your mattress and create some ventilation thus reducing the sweating factor on your bed.
    Hope that is of some help.

  3. I agree with the electric dehumidifier and bed liners. The best I've found is the Hypervent. It's a little spendy, but I don't have any more issues with bedding getting wet. You might also think about the non-electric damp-rid type re-usable containers for those storage compartments. I would also recommend you switch to baking soda + water in a spritzer bottle for any mold issues you are having. Vinegar is supposedly the 2nd best for stopping mold behind baking soda. After you spray, wipe off and then re-spray. Do not wipe off or rinse. I had a black mold issue behind my holding tank. So far, no return after 6 weeks.

  4. Along the lines of dale's comment above, have you considered using Kanberra gel as a mold deterrent? Obviously it won't help with the moisture, but we've had success using it to prevent mold growth.

  5. Being a winter liveaboard myself, I can totally sympathize with your condensation plight. We don't get the drips from overhead though (just lots of moisture in the lockers). Maybe it's because our headliner is a foam-backed vinyl? Not sure if it will help you, but here is a link for our headliner

    And just wait until your sheets are frozen to the hull- it's awesome! Lol ;)

    1. Hi, excellent information thanks for sharing.

      Insulation Toowoomba

  6. Long live the electric dehumidifier!

    It has worked wonders in the humidity of south Florida and The Bahamas.

  7. I'm surprised no one has asked what kind of heater you have- we had an old Buccaneer 270 here in the bay area and at first would use the alcohol stove as a heater- wondered why we always woke up wet and uncomfortable, not a serious problem because it doesn't get that cold around here- we got a small wood stove and used coal to heat the boat- made a huge difference, stayed reasonably dry inside even when it rained.

  8. "Nothing like rain inside the boat... " Damn Diane I know that feeling :(

  9. Great boat there, i hope you will do better in the future ! thanks for the post !


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