It’s fall in northern California. What’s that mean? It means chilly nights (mid to low 40s), foggy mornings, and sunny afternoons (low 60s). Not too shabby you might say. We’ve had two days of rain outside. News reports say we’re technically in a drought, but I beg to differ! It’s been practically raining everyday inside the boat. Humidity has been hovering around 65% and spikes closer to 80% when we’re sleeping, cooking, basically doing any activity that requires us to breathe. You may be asking yourself, what’s the big deal? Here are the top 10 reasons why high humidity is a bad thing, and the one reason why it’s good.
10. The walls are dripping like a slip-and-slide and opening the hatches causes a waterfall to flow into the boat, usually on my pillow
9. The shiny bronze I spent hours polishing this summer will be completely tarnished by the end of the winter
8. We have to open up the boat to “dry” it out when it’s cold outside (brrr!)
7. Our towels don’t dry completely. Ever.
6. Crawling into a bed that feels cold and damp is truly awful
5. We can no longer sprinkle salt (or any spice really) – it’s all one big clump
4. The boat smells weird
2. Suki looks grumpy all the time because her hair is frizzy and puffed up
1. I am grumpy because my hair is frizzy and puffed up
And the only reason humidity is good? My skin isn’t dry and itchy from the cold – it’s soft without using lotion.
The sales ad for our boat said the owner had a diesel heater in storage and it was part of the sale. What the ad should have said is the boat has a very small ceramic electric heater that will heat the area within 2 feet of it. Earlier this fall we bought a radiant heater from Lowe’s. It works great keeping the boat warm and it’s silent; however, it’s expensive to run and it barely keeps the humidity at 65%. We started running the cabin fans to circulate the air better and that’s kept the walls from dripping, but the portlights and the walls inside the cupboards are still damp/wet. Thankfully the days have been dry and warm enough that we can open up the boat and the humidity will decrease to about 45%, but as we get deeper into winter there will be days when we can’t do that.
We have a couple of air dryers and a Golden Rod that came with the boat. None of these works all that well. I think they are intended to work on a boat that isn’t occupied by humans or animals that breathe constantly.
Our next thought was to run the radiant heater on low all night with the cabin fans to circulate the warm air. This has been effective to a point, but it’s not great.
We considered buying a diesel heater because they are supposedly the most efficient and are a dry heat. The downside is the cost; over a thousand dollars and we’d have to cut a hole in the cabin top and install either a fuel pump or a day-tank.
I didn’t consider a propane heater because I read that they put a lot of moisture in the air which is exactly opposite of what we want. However, Dickinson Marine has solved this problem and their new propane heaters put out a dry heat. The downside is the cost (also over a thousand dollars) and drilling a hole in the cabin top.
What we settled on is a Frigidaire 50-pint per day dehumidifier we bought from Amazon for $209. It kind of works like an air conditioner except it doesn’t blow cold air. There’s a coil that condenses the moisture in the air, the condensate collects in a bin, and warm, dry air comes out the louvers on the top. Within the first two hours of running it we had about 2 cups of water in the bin. The specs say it will pull 4.6 amps/530 watts (AC). I’m assuming that’s with the fan on high-speed. In comparison, the radiant heater draws 1500 watts which is about 11 amps. In boat speak, that’s a huge difference. We can actually run the water heater at the same time we’re running the dehumidifier and not trip the dockside circuit breaker. Not so with the radiant heater. A dry boat is a happy boat. So far we give the dehumidifier a big thumbs up.