Many of us do our boating in areas where winter forces us to head south with the boat, or have it hauled, winterized, and covered with shrink wrap. It is the way we’ve done it for generations. From Maine to the Carolinas, and all the Great Lakes, our boating season is very much defined by the seasons.

In recent years, the winters have been more moderate, at least here in the Mid-Atlantic region. Some owners now leave their boats in the water and find some way to keep the boat warm, usually with an oil-filled electric heater in the bilge.

In the Pacific Northwest, boat owners enjoy mostly year-round opportunities for being on the water. I recall one Christmas Day, when I took my ketch out sailing on Lake Washington for the morning. That afternoon, I drove with friends up to Snoqualmie to go snow skiing.

I always considered the PNW to be a year-round playground, even if it does get cooler, damp, and rainy during much of the winter. For many to overcome this dreary weather was the promise of a hot buttered rum after a Sunday afternoon of sailboat racing out of Shilshole Bay Marina in Seattle.

Way before I started PassageMaker Magazine, I loved living and boating in the PNW. So, once we launched the magazine, I found every excuse to head back out there: Seattle, Anacortes, Bainbridge, Port Townsend, Port Ludlow, wherever. It also sure beat winter in Annapolis, where everything is buttoned up and everyone lives inside. Frostbite sailing is for the hardy and athletic sailors, the rest of us bide our time waiting for spring.

I got to know a lot of Northwest boaters, many through my connection with our West Coast editor, Bob Lane. He introduced me to many trawler owners he knew as a Grand Banks owner himself. With his wife Polly, they made the annual pilgrimage to SE Alaska every summer.

One of his friends also had a Grand Banks 42, a timeless classic if there ever was one. With twin Lehman diesels, it was the quintessential dependable diesel cruiser, the brand’s tagline until it moved into new territory that emphasized speed above all else. The company lost its way, in my opinion, as the newer models just didn’t resonate with the large community of GB owners. But that’s another story.

What I wanted to share with you was the nifty system his friend came up with to avoid winterizing his boat, which he kept under cover on the Duwamish River outside of Seattle. By using his existing Webasto diesel heater, he devised a clever way to keep his boat and engines warm. The system circulates hot water throughout the boat at a temperature high enough to ward off freezing on a boat that was not been winterized in the traditional way.

I thought I would share the schematic of his system in case you might be interested in doing something similar.

diagram of heating on boat

The heart of the system is a diesel-fired furnace, in this case a Webasto DW-80 heating system. Webasto has newer, more efficient models available in the DBW2010 through DBW2030 models. But the basic principles are the same.

The DW-80 water heater uses the diesel furnace to warm up a heat exchanger in the range of 7,000 BTU/hr (at the reduced setting) to a maximum of 27,000 BTU/hr at the full setting.

(The Webasto DBW2010 diesel hydronic heater can produce up to 45,000 BTU/hr. That creates enough hot water to heat a 48-foot sailboat or 47-foot trawler. And there are larger models for even more output.)

In addition to the integral heat exchanger, a circulation pump pushes coolant through heater hose at a flow rate of up to six gallons per minute.

The closed system consists of air handlers in all staterooms and saloon on the GB42 and is also plumbed into the heat exchangers on the twin Lehmans to keep the engines warm.

His system bypasses the water filter, water heater, and expansion tank as they are unnecessary for the purpose of keeping the boat warm during the winter. It is not a system for living aboard, of course, as one would want hot water.

The simplicity of this system takes advantage of the diesel hydronic heater already on the boat that owners use for cruising in cool weather but then adds its utility for an off-season setup to keep the boat just warm enough.

I ran this system by Brent Moore, service director for Seattle Yachts Service in Anacortes. He suggests anyone wanting to create a system for their boat should contact their Anacortes Seattle Yachts Service – South Yard location to discuss a design specific for one’s boat and get an estimate for its installation.

The yard is located at 2915 W Ave, Anacortes, WA 98221. The phone is 360-293-3145.

Oh, and by the way, since we were just talking about the value of making sure everything is tight, or Righty Tighty

My friend ran his GB Eastbay 38 from Annapolis down to a marina off the Rhode River to get the bottom painted and new zincs. The weather last week was windy, and Chesapeake Bay was feeling ornery. Lumpy seas with steep waves that the Ray Hunt hull just loves to punch through.

Coming through one wave after another, Jim happened to look down and noticed a hole in his instrument console. The oil temperature gauge for the starboard engine had dropped out of the console from the boat’s motion.


missing gauge 


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