Wintering onboard a sailboat in Scandinavia
The French couple, François & Valérie, are no strangers to Scandinavia. Having spent the last few years sailing onboard the Ovni 445 called Cybèle 17, both in The Baltics and The Nordics.
For three years they have spent their winters in Wasahamnen in Stockholm, Sweden.
François is no expert, he writes, but wants to share some of the ideas they have come up with. And his tips are as good as any nordic sailor.
- "To keep my wife onboard, I needed ways to maintain a certain level of comfort onboard". They have experienced temperatures down to minus 12 degrees Celcius in Stockholm.
- "One must avoid loss of heat and have several heat sources onboard".
Onboard the Cybèle 17 they have two electric heaters and a diesel stove (Refleks) with two radiators and a circulation pump.
- Power comes from two 230V shore power cables, as we are often limited to 10 Amp. One is for the boat connected to a Mastervolt insulation transformer and charger-converter and connects to a little heater with a fan in the front cabin. The second, protected by a circuit breaker, is for a big 2000W heater in the saloon. It is important not to let anywhere in the boat get cold.
- If it gets really cold, if there is a power outage or if we are anchored somewhere else, the Refleks stove is helpful. The heat is more comfortable than electricity. The circulation pump feeds two small radiators in the cabins. Consumption is max 7l/24h, and the pump draws only 2 amps. There is a way to avoid using the pump, but then the radiators must be mounted higher than the stove. But it was impractical on the Ovni 445. We can also cook on the top of the stove. I have a designated pump to feed the day tank for the stove. Diesel comes from the main diesel tanks.
Fighting heat loss onboard
- The floorboards get very cold. I fitted a carpet and cut it to fit around the interior. In some places we have two layers of carpet. And we wear our fur-lined slippers that are very comfortable. I measure the temperatures with a IR laser thermometer. The floorboards are keeping a temperature of 7°C, over the carpet holds 9°C, but the temperature feels much higher!
The access to the cabin used for storage is closed by a big curtain except for a little passage for the cat’s litter box.
A thermal bridge, also called a cold bridge or heat bridge, is an area in a sailboat which has a significantly higher heat transfer than the surrounding materials resulting in an overall reduction in thermal insulation onboard. All the opening portholes and hatches with a metallic frame are doubled with 4mm plexiglass.
Sometimes it’s very difficult to find the thermal bridge. For example around the chimney, we found that the shipyard forgot to add a piece of thermal insulation .
The companionway hatch is covered by a thick blanket, and the opening is quickly shut after use. Note the door for the cat.
The fully enclosed cockpit tent is very efficient. Keeping the temperatures 5-7°C higher than the outside. It also helps reducing the heat loss from the companionway and from underneith the seats of the cockpit, which are not insulated. In Stockholm we built a second tent over the cockpit to carry the weight of all the snow. We keep the curtains closed from 3 o’clock during winter when it gets dark in Sweden anyway.
An electric blanket (230V 50W) are fitted in the berths. That allows my wife to go to bed before me. As a true Breton, I don’t suffer from cold! Between the mattresses and base of the berths, condensation prevention matting keeps the berths both vented and dry.
A dehumidifier onboard (230V, 250W) improves comfort , as we cannot have normal air-flow during winter. It pumps almost 1/2 liter of water a day. The bilge pumps often run because of the condensation water in the bilge. We also have a carbon-monoxyde detector with alarm. Especially important when the stove is burning.
When the ice forms in the harbour, which happens every winter in parts of Sweden, an electric submerged pump creates a stream of moving water on the surface surrounding the boat. This prevents ice from forming around the stern and protects the rudders.
Thanks to François for sharing his insight. Please visit their blog for more stories from their adventure in The Nordics.
If you haven`t read our interview with François & Valérie, it can be found here.