After a day on the water, nothing beats relaxing down below, whether for a meal, drinks with friends, or cozying up with a good book in your bunk. To this end, you want warmth and good ventilation, well-placed lighting, and perhaps a high-quality set of speakers for tunes during sundowners.
What you need to stay comfortable aboard depends on your planned destinations, the size of your boat, and your cruising style. Looking to venture to higher latitudes? You will want a robust cabin heater, such as a hydronic system from Webasto, which can heat the entire boat and your hot-water tank too. If you’re staying in more temperate areas, a bulkhead-mounted unit like those offered by Sig or Dickinson may suit your needs. And for tropical cruising, particularly if you’re planning to spend some time in marinas (or have a robust genset), an air-conditioning unit will be welcome on humid nights.
Decent lighting can completely change the atmosphere aboard. Modern LED lights, such as those from Imtra and Hella, are much more energy-efficient than their incandescent or halogen counterparts and come in a range of colors. With a dimmer switch installed, it’s easy to go from light that’s bright enough to work and read by to a warm glow during dinner. White LED lights are rated by the “temperature” of the color in degrees Kelvin. Choose from the warmer end (around 2800K) for interior lights and cooler tones (6400K) for exterior lights.
No one likes a stuffy boat. Airflow is key not only for comfort in the cabin, but also for keeping mold and that dreaded “boat smell” at bay. To get air, your boat needs adequate hatches and opening ports, dorades or solar vents, and several fans throughout the cabins, heads and saloon.
Long gone are the days when you needed to keep a CD collection aboard to have tunes while hosting friends. Between stored digital music files, satellite radio and online streaming services, an onboard music collection can be almost limitless. You can keep it simple with one of the many portable Bluetooth speakers that are available, or you can install a complete system. With a “black-box” unit from Simrad called the SonicHub, all controls are handled on a compatible display, so you can even do away with a traditional stereo face.
The Fusion StereoActive is a cool portable Bluetooth speaker that is made for the life aquatic. Not only is it water-resistant to IPX7 standards, but it also floats, has premium sound, and can be securely attached in your cockpit, on the dinghy or even on a paddleboard. There is a secure space for a flash drive to play digital music files, or you can pair a device and stream music. Don’t want to stream tunes? The StereoActive also has an AM/FM and marine weather receiver.