The first thing you notice about Lealea when she is resting in her slip is her awnings. Custom made of Sunbrella canvas, the forward cover stretches from the pulpit to the mast. The main section attaches to the mast and to the upper shrouds forward and to an aluminum pole suspended from the backstay aft. Two curtains on either side of the backstay shield the cockpit from the aluminum pole to the stern rail and attach to the main section with twist lock fasteners. There are roll-up openings on either side of the cockpit for entry and exit. The whole thing is made so that the lower edge of the awnings follow the upper lifeline for the length of the boat.
We consider the awnings absolutely essential for living aboard. The awnings allow us to keep the hatches open for ventilation through mid-day sun and torrential downpours. They keep the damaging sun off the brightwork and paint and keep the boat cool as well as giving Bree the privacy she requires for her cat box on the cabin top. Our bicycles live on deck, safely secured, out of sight and out of the weather when not in use, under the awning. I strung a clothesline from the backstay to the mast, under the awning where our towels, bathing suits etc. hang in the shade, invisible to dock strollers and marina attendants. The cockpit is comfortable in driving rain or blazing sun and the canvas enclosure makes the boat seem more roomy overall. Privacy is improved substantially.
Nope. Would not live aboard without good awnings. You can probably find a cruiser or live-aboard who does canvass work in your marina. If not, check with the local boat yard or chandlery. They will know who does this type of work. We paid Janice US$900 for the awnings in the photo.
December 2008, Friday Harbor
The awnings are still a good idea but must be taken down in
high winds, heavy snow or freezing rain.Of course keeping cool is no longer a concern.Heating is the obvious priority but it is
imperative to heat intelligently and make every effort to limit the amount of
water vapor generated. We have learned that propane is not a
good choice for heating for this reason.Propane cook stoves are also a problem in this regard. When shore power
is available, we use a small 5200 BTU electric
Portable Cabin Heater
which does the job quite nicely and generates no water vapor.We also have a 5000 BTU
Heat Pal 5100 Alcohol Heater
for use when shore power is not available andwe are also looking into solid fuel and diesel heaters small enough for
the Vega. Insulating the inside of the hull will help retain heat and reduce condensation.
Above all, ventilate. Put vents in your lockers. Make sure you have
adequate air flow throughout the boat. You will probably need to add both
active and passive intake and exhaust vents as well as circulating fans to any
boat if you plan to live aboard in the high latitudes. A properly insulated and
ventilated boat should not need a dehumidifier (But it can't hurt and we have one electric
Air Dryer Dehumidifier
and three of the
No Damp Dehumidifier 12oz. with Crystals
, absorbent chemical moisture traps, in the lockers) Living
aboard generates an astonishing amount of water condensation.
In addition to the designed in ventilation system, Lealea now has a four inch mushroom vent in the fore peak, a four inch Stainless Steel Solar Vent in the forward hatch and a six inch open port in the aft bulkhead of the main cabin. This has proven to be inadequate. We are planning to add an exhaust fan to the four inch mushroom forward and an exhaust blower in the lazarette. If the original blower still worked this last might not have been necessary but without the blower, even with two three inch mushroom vents aft, water accumulation in the lazarette soaks everything stored there and runs into the bilge. Propping open the aftermost cockpit hatch helps but is not a permanent solution.
We are still fighting this battle and will keep you posted on how it works out. Meanwhile, I suggest you get a copy of "A Warm, Dry Boat" if you can find it.
Basic requirements for a live-aboard vessel:
A place to cook and wash dishes.
A head with holding tank.
A separate sleeping cabin, preferably with a door that closes for privacy.
A table for eating, writing etc.
Standing headroom at least somewhere in the boat .
The factory layout of the Vega is OK but we, and many other Vega owners, have found that the removable table gets in the way in port and worse at sea if you donít stow it. We have modified the interior layout by removing the port side settee and installing a dinette with fore and aft facing seats and a table that remains in place but can be removed easily if necessary and stowed. This isnít an original idea. I saw some photos of a Vega with a dinette conversion on the VAGB website and modified it to suit my own needs (And abilities).
I looked at the photos, looked at my boat and sketched out what I wanted. Then I removed the settee on the port side and made careful measurements. I mocked up the seats using buckets and whatever was at hand to get the proper height remembering to consider the thickness of the cushions and the position of the table. Using the old pieces, made a pattern and cut it out of 1/4 inch mahogany faced plywood. The seats were of 1/2 inch marine plywood. I had the table made by a friend with far better woodworking skills (And tools) than I possess. Unlike the photos at right, I chose to leave the old seat back piece in place along with the lockers behind it. When we got to Port Townsend I rebuilt the whole thing with the help of Bene Hoffman of the PT Shipwrights Co-op. Check out the photos below
Here's one way to do it
Really nice table on the starboard side
My original inspiration
Notice the cookstove cover used as a counter extension
The locker forming the seat back just forward of the cook stove has bins for utensils and a cover (Not shown) The forward seat back locker has an open top and is for charts and navigation reference books