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Life with Brian

Living aboard a fibreglass yacht in winter has its pros and cons, most of which represent a new experience for us. But we are learning, every day, how to cope with things, some of which are expected or predictable and some less so.

Over the first few weeks when the British climate was moving slowly from late summer to autumn then into winter we had such variations of temperature, sun, wind and rain that it was difficult to do much apart from react to whatever was thrown at us. In the course of one week we would have a sudden cold spell, a few days of rain then warmth with daytime sunshine warming the boat and drying things out. But we are so sheltered by the surrounding buildings here in the centre of London that only rarely is there sufficient wind to air the boat in the way that we have become used to in other marinas and mooring locations. We miss the wind’s drying effect which normally, over time, will keep the air fresh and regulate the moisture level of everything inside the boat.

Of course we have our Taylor stove with its impressively shiny chimney drawing air in at the bottom and taking it up and away above decks but even with this going steadily most evenings, after a month or so we began to notice that the interior of the boat was gradually absorbing moisture from our bodies, principally from our breath, and from daily cooking, washing, and so on. The drying effect needed to achieve the usual moisture balance just wasn’t happening; it needed to be significantly greater and clearly just airing the boat when we could wasn’t going to achieve this. The moisture in the air inside our boat was condensing on any cool surface it could find and there are plenty of these when the temperature plunges 10 degrees Celsius in the space of 12 hours or so.

Fortunately man’s ingenuity with machines and our salary-laden bank account came to our rescue in the form of Brian (the name just seemed to work for us) who sits in one or other of the hulls humming away to himself, making our lives happier. He is sort of short and dumpy (although I wouldn’t tell him this directly) with a plastic reservoir for catching the moisture he keeps busily extracting from the air around him. For Brian is a de-humidifier, a machine built to serve but one purpose, to make things dry. It is hard to believe where all the water comes from but he just keeps producing more of the stuff and we have to empty him out regularly to keep him happy. He even has a smart accessory which we use occasionally, a clear piece of pipe to take his extracted water directly into our bilges from where the float activated pump can squirt it overboard. Brian has transformed our lives. Suddenly the windows, which used to drip moisture every morning, are clear again and even the ends of the hulls, those awkward to reach bits where air circulation is negligible, are smelling sweet again.

We suspect that being on a relatively poorly insulated fibreglass boat we might be experiencing more condensation than one might get, for example, on a wooden boat but now we have the situation under control, thanks to Brian, we don’t let this bother us. We come home from work and step inside to find the air as sweet and dry as if it were summer and we can get on with the routine of life on board. Tonight is washing night, which means a trip to the facilities block armed with our machine tokens and powder. Just another day really.

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