PPPPP. Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance.
We’ve no idea what this winter will bring although the last few weeks have heralded a stormy lead into Autumn.
It’s been a while since we had a bad winter so we’re going to be ultra cautious.
What’s bad for us?
-5 degrees C or more i.e. below freezing and high humidity for a protracted period.
With the last of the coal fuel power stations closed down, the electrical generating capacity of the UK is well on the knife’s edge. Although we are not entirely dependent on that generation, LONG TERM could prove difficult for us as winter is DAMP and condensation a problem.
It’s too easy to say keep everything ventilated and we hear that a lot from house owners. In a boat, 3 feet from the water, that’s not so easily achievable so we usually do all our cooking by 2 pm at the latest in cold conditions to allow us to ventilate the moist air. Our cooker runs off propane and when you burn a pound weight of propane, it will generate 1.6 lbs of water.
To pin that down a little more, we have two 6 kg Propane Bottles.
We change a bottle every 319 days. How can I be so precise?
SWMBO keeps account of EVERYTHING which is kinda useful living on a limited budget.
Back to gas.
6000 grams / 319 days = 18 ml of gas a day (on average).
Now burning 1 litre of propane produces 810 ml of water.
So 18 ml of gas produces nearly 15 ml of water or a tablespoon. Wow!
Why so little gas?
Did I ever mention the fact that SWMBO is the queen of the two pan meal?
Got to love someone who can cook really good meals out of almost anything in under 20 minutes, cleaning up as she goes, in a galley kitchen.
Our dehumidifier is working 24/7 from the fall (if cold and damp) to spring taking out about 4 litres of damp PER DAY day. Only where is it coming from?
The human body gives off about 300 – 400 ml of water vapour a day as standard. Breathing, sweat evaporation, that sort of thing.
So with 2½ of us on the boat, that’s a lot of moisture to get rid off.
Then you add cooking, us making hot drinks, washing and toileting, it all mounts up. Including the often forgotten thing called wash gear i.e. towels and face clothes, plus in the kitchen, tea towels for drying dishes and the like.
All gently ‘evaporating’ though the day and into the night.
While we are never cold at night in winter (20 plus Tog king size duvet), bedding also needs airing but to do that you have to carefully control the ambient temperature in the boat as in winter the internal ‘dew point’ is usually way higher than outside.
Don’t forget damp also affects materials ability to retain heat.
Now you may be forgiven in thinking we are a ‘bit’ focused on damp as our main issue. You’d be right. Cold, put on more clothing. Wet outside, leave outer layer on the back under cover. Dog? A waterproof coat is fitted as standard on rainy days BUT even that has to be aired.
Don’t forget damp can be a killer for some.
Mold and their spores can badly affect a persons respiratory system and cause damage to both the wood in the boat, and everything in it including mattresses, other soft furnishings and clothing.
It’s interesting to watch how much stuff gets taken down the laundry in mid-winter.
Some for washing and drying, some just to freshen things up i.e. tumble drying blowing hot filtered air through it. There is another hazard to think about.
(Caution, dangerous advice) Why? Because some fabrics can’t stand the heat!
Tumbling a 7.7 lb ( 3.5 kg) load, a 60 degree C 30 minute ‘HOT WASH’ or a ‘HOT’ tumble dry at temperatures of 40-50 degrees C (104-122 degrees F) for 30 minutes will kill off bed bugs.
BED BUGS! WTF.
It happens, its endemic in the UK that have communal areas and soft furnishings.
You sit on something ‘infected’ that gets carried into your home aka our boat.
This is not about keeping clean or being dirty, it happens!
As for mold? (Caution, dangerous advice)
Vinegar kills 82% of mold species and can usually kill the mold growing on clothes. White Vinegar will also remove the mouldy smell from the clothes. Just add a couple of cups to your normal wash detergent.
We have to plan ahead. WELL AHEAD.
Those who don’t are playing ‘catch up’ the whole time and it’s better to monitor things already done than try to do them in the freezing cold and wet.
Thus we turn to the calendar.
Start Day count, Spring, 20 March
(Average 7.7 º C, Coldest -3 º C)
92 Days later , Summer, 21 June
(Average so far 14.6 º C, Coldest 9 º C )
62 Days Later, Autumn 22 September
(2015 Average 10.0 º C, Coldest -4 º C )
From about October our electricity usage increases
90 Days Later, Winter 21 December
(2015 Average 2.1 º C, Coldest -9 º C )
90 Days Later, Spring 20 March
(2016 Average 7.7 º C, Coldest -3 º C )
Electricity Usage starts to tail off at the end of March
Winter Servicing / Preparation Schedule.
3rd Quarter September (or first frost)
Oil and Oil filter change
Change Gear Box oil (n/a as New box fitted June 2016)
Bleed the fuel system of water.
Check and top up Antifreeze to 33-38% strength
Check Alternator belts
Check Battery Bank status (all five of them)
Renew Gas bottle if necessary (see above)
Clean and proof all canvas covers, lubricate all catches and zips.
Check window frames for leakage, renew seals as appropriate.
Renew chaffed ropes,
Fit double glazing to main windows.
Repack cupboards and under bed storage checking bag seals.
Un-box extra heating and check.
Start refilling the water tank on weekly basis.
Keep diesel tank full at all times, fill up and store diesel cans.
Busy little bees aren’t we!