November 8, 2015

How much water, anchor chain, and heating fuel do we use...?

We occasionally participate in various boating forums. [See our Some Forums We Read sidebar for links...]

Some of those topics may be relevant here, so once in a while we will repost on our blog for reference.

The following may be one of those cases. To accommodate our non-boating blog readers, sometimes we add some {additional information and links} to the original forum post, below. 

Related posts:

Link to original forum post [23-Apr-2015]

23-04-2015, 17:28  #1
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Macblaze's Avatar

Join Date: Nov 2013
Location: Edmonton
Boat: Hunter 386
Posts: 211
What's Necessary to Liveaboard in the PNW [Pacific northwest] in Comfort?

I am a total beginner at owning a boat. But I bought a pretty well equipped one and this summer we move aboard to live (hopefully) for a year. But as I am working my way through both the budget and the equipment list, I am not sure it's well-equipped enough.

I've budgeted (on average) one night a week at a marina except for the winter months where we will likely hole up for 6 months. But now I am worried that I am missing some things to successfully live on the hook for 4 or 5 days at a time at an anchorage. We want to get up to the Broughtons or maybe even further north and get away from it all for as many weeks as we can.

The boat has:
Full enclosure
110 feet of chain and a long stern line
75 gallon water tank
35 gallon holding tank
2-10 lb propane bottles
10' zodiac with 8hp outbaord

Seaward 6 gallon water heater
Fridge & Freezer Adler Barbour 12V plate & compressor
Propane stove and oven
Webasto hydronic heater

55 amp alternator
Magnum 2800 watt charger inverter with remote panel
4 Trojan t105+ (225 amps)

The only thing I have planned so far is to replace the 33lb Lewmar claw with a Rocna or Mantus.

The issue is while we have done a reasonable amount of chartering, it's usually been travel everyday and a lot of motoring and staying in marinas. I have no idea how long 75 gallons of water or 10 lbs of propane lasts. And try as I might (because I suck at the math), until we get out there I have no idea how many amp-hours we are going to burn through on the hook.

So do I need a generator or to add some solar? Is our tankage sufficient? What is missing to make our adventures comfortable and our learning experiences pleasant? This boat is new to us and so, obviously, is ownership. Right now it is all theory and so much of it that it's not making a lot of sense 

All wisdom gratefully accepted.
Gaudeamus igitur iuvenes dum sumus...

Re: What's Necessary to Liveaboard in the PNW in Comfort?

Hi Bruce,

I've lived aboard a bit further north [Prince William Sound, Alaska] off and on for 20 years. Now we are further south in Wrangell, Alaska.

Regarding comfort, it sounds like you have all the pre-requisites. [Heat, water, fuel, etc.] One thing not often mentioned is the importance of ventilation- especially in cooler climates. If you don't ventilate [i.e., waste a bit of heat...] you will be living in a damp, moldy environment that often takes a while to manifest- so people don't see it coming until it arrives... It also helps to insulate the hull and underside of the deck to reduce condensation. But even if insulated, make sure to ventilate well... [i.e., don't close your dorade and solar vents no matter how tempting it might be when the wind is howling during the blizzard...]

Consider using a pressure cooker to reduce cooking fuel and water consumption, as well as release of moisture into the cabin...

Regarding consumption, the safe way to determine this is to live aboard at the dock, but off the grid [unplugged] as though you are at anchor. Keep your routines as you might prefer them [e.g., take daily showers, etc.] and monitor your consumption. You can always plug into shore power to charge the batteries, and turn on the host to fill the water tanks...

Some personal examples: I lived aboard for a few winters in Valdez, Alaska where the temps averaged teens above zero F, but reached teens below zero for weeks at a time. During that period I averaged 1.5 gal/day heating oil [Sigmar bulkhead heater] in my Valiant Esprit 37. Since I had to haul water and fuel on a sled to the boat [it was frozen-in at those temps...] I knew I was consuming precisely 5 gallons/day/person including lots of hot beverages and daily [Navy] showers.

When I anchored out, I had to go ashore and haul fresh water from flowing streams between cold spells.

I also spent 2 winters in northern WA state (Semiahmoo) on a 47' Tayana with hydronic heat. I averaged about 3 gallons/day heating oil there... water consumption remained about the same.

On our current boat I dedicated one of the two fuel tanks to #1 heating oil to keep the Espar forced air heater happy [This helps reduce maintenance intervals as it prefers #1 with no additives...] I figure I can always transfer #1 to the #2 diesel tank for the engine and generator and add the correct % of Marvel Oil to it and keep everything happy.

We also are now spoiled with a water maker that doesn't seem to care about the cooler water temps. ({10+} Gal/hr consistently in 40°F to 50°F water temps.) In SE Alaska our consumption in winter is 1.5 gal/day fuel oil, and 15-20 gallons/day [for 2] water because we are also spoiled with a washer/dryer on board...

Let me add another water usage metric that may be useful for perspective: Our house in Fairbanks, Alaska is high on a hill where a well is not cost effective. Therefore many homes in this area have underground water holding tanks (ours is 2000 gallons) We have water delivered (or haul it ourselves in a 400 gallon tank in my truck...) so I know precisely what our water usage is. Over 13 years we have averaged 35 gallons/day/adult with all the usual water consuming appliances [clothes and dish washers...] and fresh water toilet flushes. We take no real water preservation measures other than to use what we need and need what we use...

Regarding ground tackle: From my experience you will need at least 300 ft of anchor rode to be safe in our often deeper than usual anchorages on the northern part of this coast. You mentioned 110ft of chain. If that is all you have, plan on more before you go out... [It doesn't have to be all chain, but that is a personal preference...]

e.g., On our present boat, I put in a new windlass with all new chain in June 2014 to accommodate simultaneous use of 2 permanently installed anchors on the bow (5 anchors on board) The main bower has 360ft of 5/16 G4 chain (the max I could fit on that side of the anchor locker...) attached to 100ft of 1in 3-strand rode. [The Hail Mary rode to be let out in an extreme situation where we might have to cut and run...] The secondary anchor has the remaining 190ft of the chain [550ft/barrel of 5/16in G4...] attached to another 100ft 1in 3-strand... I also have 3 other 300ft 3-strand with 40ft chain in bags for deployment of other anchors as needed... you get the idea. Why? In years past I've been blown off my anchor in williwaws in the dark and I don't want to ever experience that again...

I hope this is useful.

Have fun living aboard. I look forward to hearing what you discover...


SV Denali Rose

Short on opinions; focused on research, facts & experience [yours and ours...]

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