Condensation is one of the things that boaty people (should) think about. Not just liveaboards; most anyone who owns a boat has condensation on the brain. It’s kind of a Big Deal because it can cause a whole raft of problems, not the least of which is mildew. I know this now because I did not have condensation on my brain and just narrowly avoided disaster.
Oh, I’ve read many blog posts about condensation and its evils. Mildewed walls; books and other possessions ruined due to inadequate air flow; soggy wood, soggy cushions, soggy anything that can absorb moisture. I would look at the pictures, read the stories and think “Oh dear…” Don’t be like me! Heed my warning before it’s too late and you’re wallowing in spores.
For enlightenment I found this remarkable article (which I should have read long before today) to explain how condensation works inside houses; boats are similar. My favorite line of the article is
Here is my condensation story:
I happen to love Pinterest. (If you don’t know what Pinterest is I suggest not checking it out as you will never get your free time back). One of the ways I kept my sanity while our boat was being repaired was looking on Pinterest for things that could make our living aboard life better. One of the things I found was this: http://www.hyperventmarine.com/products.html
Super cool; I’m going to buy some for the boat, I thought in April of last year. I showed it to my Better Half who echoed the sentiment.
When we finally moved aboard in August condensation was not a problem. The vee berth mattress is in 3 easy-to-move pieces and we checked under each one a couple of times. Nope, no condensation. Then we cut up our memory foam mattress and shoved it into our bedspace. Every time we made the bed we picked up the corners a little bit and didn’t find any condensation. Did I mention the mattress it’s heavy and unwieldily? Well, I thought, mildew must be a problem for everyone else in the world except us. I was wrong.
The first clue was when HerSpouse was staying with us (he stays with us before/after his trips; he’s an airline pilot, too) and mentioned that there was dampness in the very front of the vee berth. Huh… We turned on the little fan in there, pulled the things away from the walls and pulled up a section of the mattress to air out. Done.
The second clue was when I was making our bed one day and I put my hand between the mattress and the wall of the Hell Hole (which runs along the back 2 feet-ish of our boat). It felt decidedly damp. I mentioned it to my Better Half. We should really get some of that venty stuff, I said.
The next time he made the bed (we alternate this task cause it’s a pain…) he mentioned again that it felt moist between the foot of the bed and the wall. We figured out how much of the Hypervent we needed and I placed the order. It showed up about a week later and the giant roll of it stayed on our deck for a while.
He was on a trip when I made the bed next. I untucked the comforter and sheets and the parts that had been tucked were wet. Not good. I picked up a corner of the mattress at the top of the bed as far as I could and found that it was wet underneath. Everything smelled like mildew and funk. How had I not noticed this smell before? I lifted a corner of the mattress next to the Hell Hole. I could see a slick of condensation on the wood underneath. I began to try to push/pull/tug/lug the mattress (which weighs almost as much as I do and is as cooperative as a wet noodle) out of our bed space. I got it stuck a quarter of the way out. I could see mildew on the fabric mattress cover and puddles of condensation under the middle of the bed. Thinking back on it, if I had to quantify my fears, I was afraid that the mildew would immediately permeate the mattress and cause it to instantaneously disintegrate into a pile of wasted money. I needed someone to Talk Me Off the Ledge, which is usually the job function of my Better Half in situations like this. Unfortunately he was somewhere across the United States, unaware that I was tearing our boat apart. I made him aware with this photo I sent him; he wasn’t amused.
Luckily HerSpouse was coming in to spend the night before a trip and is a good sport. When he arrived I made him shove the mattress into the main space on the boat. I mopped up the water, ran a fan and put our static dehumidifiers on top of the damp. I sprayed hydrogen peroxide and tea tree oil on the mattress cover, realized that it was pretty far gone, took the mattress cover off, realized that the little knitted protective cover that I had put back on the mattress so carefully when we cut it up was beyond salvage, cut that off, then sprayed hydrogen peroxide and tea tree oil on the bottom of the mattress to kill the mildew. Eeesh…
While the mattress was drying I cut up the Hypervent to fit in the vee berth and in the trunk berth. First I measured the length and added extra so that it could run up the front and back of the mattresses.
Next I measured the width, and again, added extra for the depth of the mattress and blankets.
I cut channels into the sides to form a bowl type shape that the mattress could sit in.
In the Vee berth I cut off the extra height but the trunk berth is a relatively uniform shape, I just cut two lengths, put them together in the middle of the bed and let the extra run up the sides.
I didn’t take any pictures of the trunk berth. HerSpouse basically had to wrestle the dried-out mattress in there by himself after I put a fitted sheet around the bottom of it. I was pooped and in no mood to take pictures. If HerSpouse hadn’t shown up I probably just would have cried myself to sleep on the settee… As it was we both got to sleep in our respective beds, condensationless.
However, it really worked. We have had no condensation under either mattress and it’s been perfect condensation conditions.
So to sum up: Hypervent works. Highly recommended. Two thumbs up. Just use it sooner, rather than later…