May 092013

Well, when in doubt, go with those who know what you are doing.  A trip to West Marine, actually a couple as the store on Stock Island didn’t have what I needed exactly, and about $60 later and I have a sealed off hole in the bulkhead.  I decided to quit fooling around and picked up a slice of Starboard to solve my little leaking problem.  A stock piece fit my needs almost exactly without the need to cut anything.  A couple of tubes of 5200 to seal everything up, some stainless screws to hold it in place, and done.  The hole is covered.  I’ll give the sealant a couple days to cure, add another bead to make sure, and it should be water tight.  Getting the ac unit out of the way has given me some nice extra counter space and a little more room to get in and out of the cabin.  Which leaves me with some new issues.

The hole was there for a reason, to hold the ac unit.  I could have easily just left things alone but it was one of those things that I wanted to fix and had the money to do so.  Putting the ac unit in the rear hatchway is doable, but not the best solution.  It’s in the way, takes some doing to crawl over to get in and out, and I have to seal around it to keep bugs and rain out, and cold air in.  The other option is to mount it up on the front hatch with some sort of hood, and that may yet happen.  Or I can get creative.  A neighbor has the same issue and sat his unit back off the hatch a foot or so on a stand, and put up a tarp over the unit and over the hatch to seal it all off.  Not the most efficient way to do things but it works.  Some sort of covering, some duct tape, and I could probably fashion up something that would work.  I could also go find a smaller ac unit, if they exist, and be able to fit it into the hatch.  But, I’m considering a more radical approach to all of this.  Go without ac.

I know, it sounds crazy, but hear me out.  Besides would you expect anything less than crazy here?

For the last couple of weeks it’s been pretty hot here.  Mid 80’s during the day, cooler at night into the mid to low 70’s.  There has been a pretty steady breeze blowing and being close to the ocean as the marina is, there is always a breeze blowing.  During the day I have not been running the ac at all.  I open both the hatches and the breeze does a bang up job of keeping things cool.  As long as I ain’t doing anything physical and working up a sweat, it is more than comfortable.  At night, I close up all the hatches because of the bugs and it stays pretty cool, although that will change as summer moves in.  The tarp I have over the cabin makes a world of difference in how hot it gets in here.  I’ve been running the ac a few hours at night to take the edge off the humidity but other than that I haven’t been running it much at all.

Then there is the expense.  As of the last electric bill I’ve spent less than $25 for the whole year so far for electricity and water.  If I start running the ac all day and all night, that bill will balloon to $50 or better each month.  Having a utility bill that costs less than doing the laundry is getting kinda addictive.  I could find lotsa more better ways to not spend that money on something else than to not spend it on utilities.  The big question is, of course, will I be able to stand it without ac in the boat?

I’m looking hard at alternatives.  I can pick up some cheap fans in town and have air circulating in here without breaking the bank.  Some screens up over the hatches means I can leave them open at night without being attacked by bugs.  I don’t have to run the ac all the time.  Just like I am doing now, a few hours in the evening or when it gets especially hot.  But then again, what happens if and when I leave the marina in this or some other boat and go do some that sailing stuff?  The power cord won’t reach out into the ocean.  Any power I have will be generated by a solar panel and batteries.  In fact, had I made the deal on the ODay last week, that is exactly what would have happened.  I would be on the smaller boat without ac and looking at all these alternatives.  So, why not save some bucks and see how I do without modern ac.  I like the heat anyways.  The cats seem to be ok.  Charley hides in the stern all day which doesn’t get any cool air.  I’ve always talked about living off the grid.  This would be another step towards that.

I’m going to give it a shot and see how I do over the next few weeks.  I’ll keep the ac unit handy, just in case, but I think I’ll grab a fan or two, some screen and see how it all works out.  I like to keep things simple, and this is simply another step in that direction.

Capt. Fritter

  4 Responses to “Living Aboard: Starboard And 5200…”

  1. i always vote for fresh air. I’ve found here at the wren house if i open the window all night and keep the blinds closed during the day… so far it stays heavenly cool. i have a quiet fan that runs in the daytime if i need it.
    later here ~ when it’s in the 100’s … that won’t work. but for now it’s great.
    actually kitties like heat better than cold. so it all sounds good.
    especially screens for no bugs and ocean breezes. fantastic.

  2. I was amazed at how opening windows and turning on fans kept me cool in my RV. I only turned on the AC when I needed to reduce humidity Since there are other ways to reduce humidity I hope you have results as good.

  3. Sounds like you’re camping on a boat in Key West.