Staying warm on over-nights!

I recently received an email question from a member who was planning on taking guests out over night during a cold spell. The Q&A seemed blog worthy, so here it is with minor editing to protect the guilty!

Hi Matt,

I am taking Aquamarine for an overnight this weekend with another couple. They just emailed me to ask me what the heating situation will be (an apt question, given the below-freezing temperature expected). My response was – warm clothes, warm covers, and someone to snuggle.

But that got me thinking – does Tradewinds have a recommendation on boat heating? What I have in mind, in particular, is a technique that a friend uses – **edited out so as not to give anyone a bad idea**. “A” for creativity, but highly suspect when it comes to safety or effectiveness.

What would be your recommendation?


Hello I.,

One of our boats actually has a diesel heater, so it is an option when you have your own boat as well.

Electric heaters will work fine if you are overnight at a dock with AC power available, and we have heaters available to check out in locker #1 behind the office. Don’t try it on the boat’s inverter, however – only if you are actually plugged into shore power! Also be careful where you place them, I’ve seen damaged wood and upholstery.

As far as using propane on the boat (stove, oven), there are multiple reasons I would not be a fan. One is safety. Another is that we don’t charge members for propane, we just take the tanks and fill them. If I learned people were using the stoves as heaters, I’d probably have to implement a way to do that.

On the safety side, propane is heavier than air. Never leave it on without someone watching it. If there is a leak, or if the flame goes out with the burner on, it will fill the boat from the bottom up. Sleeping people will breathe it and die, and if anything should spark (automatic bilge pump coming on), boom!

Warm clothes and sleeping bags is the best bet. I wouldn’t be opposed to a small camping heater with its own small propane supply, I think Coleman makes something like that. Of course it should only be on when people are awake, and you have to careful where you place it so the heat doesn’t damage varnished wood or cloth surfaces, etc.

I think you’ll also find that a closed boat with 4 people on board warms up pretty well. By early morning, you may be cracking your cabin window to get some cool air.

Hope that helps!

-Matt K

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1 Response to Staying warm on over-nights!

  1. TW-Matt says:

    Posting a response for Chris H.


    Happy holidays. As a follow up to your blog post on staying warm I highly recommend putting boiling water into water bottles at bedtime and sticking them immediately into the foot of your sleeping bag. It’s great climbing into a warm bag! They’ll usually (amazingly) stay warm all night and you’ll sleep much better. Make sure you have a bottle that doesn’t leak, of course, and can hold hot liquids.

    Also, simply wearing a hat to bed will help you sleep warmer.

    It’s much more efficient and easier to keep yourself warm than to try and heat the boat.


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