I was sat thinking about life in general and how lucky I am. I really do feel lucky to live the life I live. It then got me thinking about the winter to come and the most frequently asked question any boater ever gets asked.
Aren't you cold in winter????
The answer to that question is most definitely NOT.
I bet I can talk to any boater and they will say that is one of the first questions they ever get asked. Some will say it is a bit of a running joke amongst boaters whether they be liveaboards or just weekend and holiday boaters. But to me there is no such thing as a silly question. I always say if you do not know, then ask. On our boat we have two coal stoves and a hold full of solid fuel, both smokeless and house coal. Do I look like I am going to be cold this winter?
The back cabin stove will do all my cooking and boiling of water, which saves on gas. On the back cabin stove we burn good old house coal. I know your thinking arghhhh that is so smoky but it does the job. We have tried burning smokeless on it, we woke up in 40 degrees of heat in the back cabin, because the stove does not shut down like a normal coal stove. The saloon stove burns smokeless fuel and will heat the rest of the boat including the radiator in the bathroom, so we will have a very cosy boat again this winter. Even though the saloon stove is mainly used for just heating, I do keep a kettle on the top and it can be also used for slow cooking casseroles, heating soups, beans etc, you can even cook baked potatoes in the ash pan.
There are so many advantages to burning solid fuels, ok I know it may not be entirely enviromentally friendly, but needs must. You do not have to burn coal, you can choose to burn wood. I grew up with open fires, a Rayburn and a Parkray, so I know all about fires and how romantic they can be on a cold winters night, you cannot beat a real flame.
What are the downsides to coal fires???
The downside to solid fuel is that there can be a lot of dust from the fire and ash pan, so if you have chest problems it could make it worse.
The fire can sometimes die down overnight if you do not make it up properly making the morning a little chilly. Once you know your stove, it should never go out, unless you want it to do so.
I sweep our chimneys regularly, now for me this means at least twice a month for the back cabin stove and once a month for the saloon stove. The reason I sweep the back cabin stove more often is because it does tend to soot up more burning the house coal. Sweeping the chimney may seem like a tiresome job, but it should always be remembered it could save your life. And on the point of saving a life, we have two carbon monoxide alarms and two smoke alarms on our boat, one of each in the back cabin stove and in the saloon. The carbon monoxide alarm in the saloon actually did save our lives. Not long after we moved on to the boat, there was a blockage caused in the chimney and the alarm went off during the night. I personally am so pleased we spent a few pounds to buy the alarms.
Ok coal is not the cleanest of things, so yes I sometimes look like a coalman and chimney sweep, but that is a small price to pay to be warm.
Once a year I paint our stoves with stove paint, which can be bought from any chandlery, I also black the back cabin stove with some stove polish, so it looks nice.
So would I change my heating???
The answer is No. We have friends who have diesel heating and every winter their heating breaks down at the coldest time and they have no back-up. At least with solid fuel you will always be warm and have a back-up for cooking.
Before I finish, you have just read this post. Do you have a solid fuel stove???
If the answer is yes.
Have you swept the chimney lately???
If the answer is No, then make sure you do it. Because it could just save your life.