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Date: 28 January 2014. Heaters Debunked.


If you read boating journals and logs you will see lots of folks who claim to use flower pots to heat their boats.  The theory is (and everything works in Theory -- we should all live there!) that by turning on a burner, inverting a clay flower pot atop it, that miraculously you will warm your boat and make it comfortable during the winter.

I also read about a video that showed using tea burner candles, two inverted clay flower pots and again the place was purported to be warm.  Specifics if you do not want to seek out the video: use a smaller clay pot without a hole in the bottom set atop a pan with the tea lights under it. The larger pot with a hole in the bottom went over the smaller flower pot. I also tried this method using a can of Sterno. Neither worked.

Tea lights are those dinky candles that offer ambiance but not much else.

Another suggestion often flouted is to use oil lanterns. I have six aboard my 23' boat and right now 4 are burning. The boat smells of kerosene and I will admit that my larger lantern will take the chill off, but heat? No. 

This one, the larger copper lantern, does work if there is a bit of dampness in the boat first thing in the morning. I will light it, put it under my table on the little footstool I use, and it does warm things up a small bit.


And no, this is not a real copper lantern. It was brass until I took a too-strong cleanser to it and, well, let's just say that my Daddy's probably going to come back and haunt me, after Mother finishes killing me. Oh, she will bring me back to life again, but only to murder me once more.  That lantern was on one of the lobster boats her family had back in Maine, and, well, it's still pretty.  But the heirloom is not what it was before I cleaned it. Sigh.


Experience is the name given mistakes, after you have survived the event.

It is the clay flower pots that are flogged the most. On Sparrow (a 40' Rhodes Bounty) the clay pot on the burner did warm his galley however that is sailboat, long and lean.  Built in 1959, Sparrow has a 28' waterline, 40' overall and a ten foot beam. Because Sparrow is a blue-water sailboat she is air tight below decks unlike my Seaweed.  Seaweed has sliding windows (say "drafty") and three doors (again, more air) so for me, the flower pot on the stove trick did not work.

The flower pot did not function as a heater but it does work nicely as a planter. As I have mentioned previously, I grow scallions and I have four batches growing in my clay pot presently. I use scissors to cut off an inch or three from the tops and that is my green onion supply.  It works, and the price is perfection. As long as you don't cut into the white part at the bottom they will root and continue to grow.

Some of my scallions have been growing since last October.
I brought them inside because it's so cold in the cockpit right now.

And yes, that's Timmy from Think Geek -- one of my favorite online stores for the unusual.

So, basically I'm down to my Catalytic Heater. It's wonderful.  The canisters burn for 14 hours so during days and nights like these I am glad to be keeping the shares of Coleman up.  As long as the boat is warm I am pleased.


I put the heater under my table and then using c-clamps hold the fabric I use as a sunshade in the summertime as a heat funnel.  Heat rises so my dinette is warmed and that makes typing much easier.  And by leaving where I sit open I get the full benefit of the warmth generated by the heater.

And yes, I do want to make some new fabric covers for the dinette seats.  I'm totally tired of what I have now. Another project, eh? 


A peek under my dinette:

The ladies may wonder about the fabric around my table.  I'd found it at a thrift store -- a duvet cover for a king sized bed in the shower curtain section marked at $4. It was not splotchy when I bought it, but another round of "cleaning" did it in.

I had enough fabric in the duvet for the bunk top-sheet, the back of my Utilitarian quilt, plus a sunshade and a second cover.  For four dollars and a bit of sewing I was "set". Now however I am ready for a change.  The best part though is that because my initial costs were so low, replacing it will be painless. For me, being able to redo the interior cushions and valances is fun, and not expensive.

So anyway, as I was saying before I went off on the *Rabbit Trail many of the heating methods flogged by others don't seem to work well for me.  I'm a southern girl, so my tolerance for cold is not high.  If you are like me, buy a Catalytic Heater and a Trillium 12v Heated Travel Blanket With Safety Timer. Now if my budget would cooperate I might even suggest one of those nifty Newport heaters -- something that runs off diesel as the propane ones burn thru the gas too quickly for me.  But, the smartest and best idea of all is to head for the equator.

*Rabbit Trail: a term my Kidlet uses when I start on one subject and sort of meander around versus staying on topic.  (But I like bunnies!)

Good luck to you in staying warm.  As for me, I am going to make another cup of hot chocolate.

Addendum: 29 January, early afternoon.

Over at C-Quarters Marina I met a fellow who regularly drives to Wal-mart which is over an hour away from here. Millard has been kind enough to pick up propane bottles for me and this week was no exception.

Then Kim (wife of Harold) made arrangements with Russell (drives TowBoatUS boat here) to have a friend of his drop off a couple of cases of propane for me. Captain Ray Appen onboard Samurai pulled up to my transom and delivered the goodies in the afternoon yesterday. How nice that was! And, as if that was not enough to warm a girls heart (and toes!) two treats were included for my Skipper.


To the right, Kim's all bundled up on the porch at C-Quarters Marina. I will not read the temperature gauge (too afraid to enlarge the picture as some things are best left unknown) but I do smile at the "What happens on the porch stays on the porch" palm tree sign over her right shoulder. [You also might note the router up high especially installed so traveling boaters at their dock can enjoy the wifi signal.]

You know life, even in the cold, is pretty doggone good here in Carrabelle. Thanks to the friends met and made, I'm warm without having to leave home.  And this morning when I came out to make my coffee it was definitely beyond brisk. Again today it was warmer inside the refrigerator than in my galley at 38 and 49 degrees respectively.


The heater is on in the galley now. At night I bring it into my cabin. I am hoping soon the temperatures will be more tolerable.  Gosh though, it is going to be great to stop seeing my breath when I exhale.  I look like a smoker this morning though I confess that reading the Clan of the Cave Bear series and of Ayla's travails in the winter certainly have more reality at the moment. Brrr.


I'd love to hear what you do to stay warm in the winter.
And, are you a dock bunny or living life on the hook?

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