Keeping Your Cool

How to stay comfortable on board when the weather heats up.

At Home Afloat- windscoop

Jen Brett

Like most South Floridians my age, I was raised in a very air-conditioned world. The thought of not having AC on a hot, muggy day in August (or even February for that matter- Florida weather can surprise you with crazy temps any time of year) just seemed awful. (Like I've said, I was a little sheltered). When my husband, Green (yes, that's his real name), and I moved aboard Egret, our Pearson Vanguard, it didn't have AC, which we remedied by fitting a room air conditioner in the forward hatch while we were at the dock. We could make the cabin so pleasently cold that the outside of the hull would actually sweat with condensation.

But then we went cruising, and we definitely couldn't take the AC with us. But I was ready to let it go, and I haven't lived a day with AC since (not including visits and vacations ;) Of course, I no longer live in Florida, so that's part of it, but we've also learned a few tricks along the way to help us keep our cool aboard when the mercury's rising.

One of the best things that we've made for our boat is our wind scoop. I've actually wondered why I don't see more cruising boats use some sort of wind scoop since they do wonders for air flow down below. Our wind scoop that we use on Lyra (check out the picture) is a cool design with years of liveaboard R&D behind it (thanks to my husband's parents!). It can catch a breeze from any direction and send it down the hatch, which is an awesome feature when you aren't pointed into the wind due to current or being tied up at a dock. It also seems to catch just about any inkling of a breeze. We used ours daily while cruising in Florida and the Bahamas.

Our boat actually came with custom-fit canvas awnings that we put up when we know it's going to be a scorcher. Keeping the sun off of the deck and from shining down the hatches is a HUGE help in keeping the inside livable. The only drawback to our awnings is that they can't be left up if the wind picks up; however, I think that there are commercially made boat awnings, like Shadetree, that can be left up in fairly stiff breezes.

Fans- we love our fans. Currently we are using the Caframo "Bora" fans. While they're definitely not cheap, they've been worth the money and they look nice. I've also heard that the Hella fans work well. A cheaper solution is to buy an automotive fan—they're usually between $10 - $20 and run on 12v, but they draw more electricity and don't last as long in a marine environment.

Also, never underestimate the power of a cool shower or swim or a cold drink. And if all else fails, go out for ice cream :)

So, what do you do to keep cool on board?

(under the awning, in the hammock-- the way to ride out a heat wave!)