Given that we spend most of our time swinging on the anchor, it's even more imperative that we keep our cool while living onboard, on the water! This can be especially important if you are spending extensive time in the tropics - like hurricane season in Grenada where the daily temps are often over 40C and the humidity over 90%. We've added a few bits and pieces of canvas to Mowzer over the last couple of years to help us do just that, the latest being a wind scoop for the cockpit. Amazingly simple, can't believe it's taken me two years to make this one (scroll down to the bottom for a view.) Maybe there are a few ideas you can use on your boat.
Here's our current inventory:
Sun/rain shades on our forward hatches - we have two hatches on our forward saloon windows that interestingly open inwards. This means that with the slightest drop of rain, we are wet inside along the backs of the salon cushions. Even with our big sunshade up, any rain that drips over the front edge of the cabin top makes its way inside. The solution: I afixed some bolt-rope track under the edge of the cabin top overhang, made a couple of rectangles out of Sunbrella with corner ties that clip easily to the lashings of the trampoline and removes easily for when we are getting underway. Now when it rains we are dry inside up to about 25 knots of wind - then it starts to blow along the deck and up into the open hatches so we shut down the hatches. Essentially this just recreates a hatch that opens outward, which is just what Fountaine-Pajot installed on later models of our boat.
Hard top on the helm station: Last year we installed a hard top bimini over the cockpit and also a hard top shelter at the helm station. Because in the Caribbean the wind nearly always blows from the east and the helm station is on the starboard side of our boat, this means that nearly always the shade from the hard-top protects the cockpit from the most intense sunshine of the day. If we roll down the front windscreen it also helps to keep the cockpit dry. These were not the primary benefits foreseen when we built the hard-top, but they sure are much appreciated.
|Just look at that lovely dark shadow under the helm roof.|
Aft Sun-shade: A few years ago (before we even moved aboard) I made an aft sunshade for the back of the cockpit. As I mentioned above the wind nearly always blows from the east, which means that at prime cocktail time the sun is shining directly into the back of the boat. It can get brutally hot and some sort of shade protection is obligatory if you are going to spend any comfortable time living on your boat in the afternoons. Based on the premise that a light colour would reflect more light and would therefore be cooler I made a white sunshade. It worked very well but finally after about five years of constant tropical sun it packed it in, both the fabric and thread completely sun rotted. Considering it was not made of Sunbrella and I spent about $50 for the fabric from some discount bin I consider this to be stellar performance. This time around though I paid heed to a number of experienced cruisers who voiced the opinion that a dark colour is in fact cooler because it creates a deeper shade. Trusting these experienced voices, I made a new sun shade this past season out of dark blue Sunbrella and immediately we noticed a difference. It feels like the cockpit is at least 10 degrees cooler and the deep shade is a huge improvement for the eyes.
|I also made sure to split the wide panel into three pieces, joined by zippers. This makes it much easier for one person to roll up and stow away.|
Shade Awning: A lot of boats will sport a shade awning of some sort throughout their stay in the tropics during hurricane season, when the sun is at it's hottest. The one area on our boat where an awning is really appreciated is on the trampoline and the front window area of the salon - this means that if we want to sit out on the trampoline and enjoy the trade-wind breezes we can find a bit of shade to prevent the crispy bacon look. I made our shade awning back in the fall of 2014 and we use it quite a bit when the wind is below 20 knots. However, I would say that of all our little heat-beating missiles, this is the one we use the least. I posted some pictures and commentary on the blog here. (You can also see there our old helm protection - almost non-existent.)
Cockpit Wind Scoop: The latest addition to our arsenal, just added this week. I tested out the concept with a couple of sarongs, then more robustly with an old bed sheet (thanks Janice!) and finally moved into construction phase. The purpose of this wind scoop is to capture the wind as it blows along the side of the boat and funnel it into the cockpit, creating a nice cooling breeze as we sip sun-downers behind that lovely dark blue sun shade (sure, all we ever do in the cockpit is sip sun-downers!) You'll note that I made it out of clear plastic - the type used for dodger windscreens, edged with Sunbrella which means that it doesn't blocke our view out the side of the boat. I won't leave it up in really heavy winds but in the steady trades of 10-20 knots it is scooping away quite happily and we are much cooler as a result.
|Our (almost) unimpeded view of the anchorage at Mount Hartman Bay.|
|I love that this scoop is almost invisible on the boat.|
And there you have it - keeping cool in the shade and the breeze makes all the difference to our enjoyment of Mowzer!