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I have heard that one of the first things that people ask about living on a boat is ‘Does it get cold in winter?’ Most answers I’ve seen are usually reassuring like ‘It’s only a small space to heat and it can be really cozy with a good stove.’ etc.

Living in a big metal canister partly submerged in water does sound a bit chilly though doesn’t it? After all, it’s a big, floating heat sink.

Now, I’m not a big fan of being frozen alive in a steel coffin so I chose a boat with diesel central heating. It works really well, is economical and, so far, we haven’t been too cold at all. The boiler lives in the engine bay and burns diesel from the same fuel tank as the engine. The inside of the hull is spray insulated which helps retain heat

It’s a good idea to have another way to heat the boat in case of boiler failure (or running out of diesel) I was happy to see that she was also fitted with a Morso Squirrel solid fuel stove.

i had a few complaints about the stove setup however. It was fitted along the longest wall in our living area and left no room for any reasonably sized furniture. The back boiler was plumbed through the wall to the small bedroom behind it. In there, the pipe work and pump for two radiators took up a lot of space in what is already a tiny room. So not much space for furniture in there either.

Moving the stove seemed like a big job and I decided to light it one night and contemplate the problem.

Now, I’m not a big fan of being suffocated by smoke and carbon monoxide in a steel coffin either. The flue was leaking smoke badly and I had to put the fire out. It got hot enough to heat the water in the back boiler and the circulation pump (to feed two radiators) came on which was really noisy.

I decided to move the stove, fit a proper flue and devise a way to circulate the water without a pump. Apart from the awful noise, I don’t feel comfortable relying on our leisure batteries to take water away from a back boiler that could boil over if the pump stopped working.

I have moved the stove, we have made space for furniture. Now I just need to complete the installation of the stove in its new location. More on this later. In the meantime, we are struggling to keep ourselves cool. Emily has already endured a day on board where the outside temperature hit 34 degrees. She survived with the ingenious use of wet flannels and towels. Perhaps we could get a 600 square foot flannel made for the boat.

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