Condensation

Ah, condensation, it is without a doubt a downside of our winter live aboard life. Until now though, this topic of conversation of has been just too close to the surface of my sanity to be subject for a blog post. Condensation, simply put, is the watery result of warm air adjacent to cold air. As the
temperatures have been frequently dropping quite substantially we’ve consequently been turning up the heat, thereby perpetuating the condensation monster. Steel boats are most certainly subject to this. With limited ventilation, in order to retain heat, the warm moist air created mainly by our breath becomes trapped inside the boat. We consider ourselves fortunate that our hull is well insulated with spray foam and finished cedar paneling so, for us, condensation shows it’s beginnings with water droplets forming in each port light. If it doesn’t drip itself away and/or evaporate, or be wiped away, it can and will ever so suddenly freeze up when the temperature drops. Each port can soon look like it’s own mini deep freezer due for a much needed defrost. We have 16 ports, so you can only imagine. The worst offenders are the two large overhead hatches. Though each is blocked with styrofoam inserts, the styrofoam does not prevent the hot air from rising, and before long the hatches are iced up like a birthday cake. I can only wince when I think of what all this moisture is doing to the woodwork.

One day of a week well past, the heavenly ceilings of Monster opened up with the warming trend, and in all sense of the word, it was raining inside the boat. Our Boy, now quite accustomed to this, scampered to grab tea towels to place under the offending drips. The dog however, always seems quite oblivious, she will settle herself on the settee and appear quite content to be dripped upon. On this particular day, every tea towel was quickly devoted to sopping up the drips, and then the bath towels starting coming out. I had buckets and trays upon the floor to catch drips from the large hatches. There were towels on our salon table, the navigation table, and the galley counter. Fortunately for us we have a super duper mini wet/dry shop vac!  Gordon donned his trusty headlamp and the water removal began.

Once all the hatches are vacuumed out, and the ports wiped dry, the floorboards are pulled up and each space is additionally vacuumed and wiped dry. At least gravity is on our side, as all moisture trapped within the boat eventually makes it way down to the bilges. The problem is where there is moisture, there can be mold. It is another item on the project list, to ensure that every surface, EVERY surface is painted, varnished or coated in some manner to impede the growth of mold. There are a few instances where pieces of wood have been left bare aboard our Monster, but a thorough scrub with good ‘old white vinegar seems to be impeding any mold growth with a regular dousing. While this one instance I speak of was by far the worst, this water removal routine is performed regularly on a weekly basis. 
Also feeling the effects of the dreaded condensation is our poor bed. Our mattress has, or shall I say had, become a large sponge. While we continually have a port open in our aft cabin to spell out the air, it was of no use over the Christmas period when the plight of our condensation issues raised its ugly head. I suffer relentlessly from indoor allergies; dust, dust mites, mold, etc. and over the past year I have made great strides in overcoming them with monthly allergy shots. Over the Christmas period however, I was absolutely miserable; my allergies attacked with a vengeance, sinus headaches settled into my head, neck and jaw, my nose was a tap, my eczema flared up like never before. It wasn’t pretty. The culprit was our mattress, essentially becoming a large sponge, it had soaked up all the moisture created from the hot cold dichotomy of our bunk arrangement. I am embarrassed to say I have no idea how we didn’t realize this could have been an issue earlier. Once again luck was on our side, our Ikea mattress of closed cell foam features a removable, washable, allergen barrier mattress cover!  Of course, this great discovery, of our soggy mattress, was stumbled upon on Boxing Day, an hour before my Mother was to arrive for our Christmas celebration with dinner in the oven, a fruit trifle chilling on deck, and Gordon running off to the laundromat! 

Ah, condensation. With several weeks of winter still ahead, we’ll most certainly be persevering through this issue. Come on Spring! Hurry up and grace us with your warmer temperatures! 

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