Keeping Your Boat and Body Cool
By Kelsey Bonham
Every Chesapeake Bay sailor knows how hot and sticky a long day on the water can be, but not only can it be unpleasant, it can also be dangerous. As the dog days of summer approach, these tips will help you keep your decks, cabin, and crew cool, making your sailing experience more enjoyable for everyone.
Invest in a Bimini or Canvas Tarp
Shade is crucial. Biminis are one of the best ways to keep your cockpit shielded from the sun, but if a bimini isn’t in your future, consider purchasing or fashioning a canvas tarp that can be suspended over the cockpit. If you’re feeling really thrifty, an old sail might even do the trick.
Open Your Hatches Strategically
Cabins are notorious for turning into saunas. Opening any hatches will make a difference but creating a tunnel of airflow through the cabin is best. A combination of an open foredeck hatch with an open companionway will help a breeze flow through most efficiently.
Try a Windscoop
If opening the hatches alone doesn’t invite enough air down below, consider investing in a windscoop or fashioning one yourself to help guide the breeze into your hatches.
Cook on Deck
Every galley chef knows how quickly a stove can turn into a heater. If you have a removable stove, bring it on deck and enjoy practicing your culinary skills with a view of your anchorage. If your stove is firmly installed into your galley, consider grilling out over the transom or serving no-cook meals instead.
Keep Wet Gear Outside
Heat isn’t the only thing keeping you hot—humidity is also a major factor, especially on the Bay. If you have wet gear, whether it’s foul weather gear you stripped off following an afternoon downpour or a collection of sopping swimsuits, leave them outside to dry as long as possible. Clothespins for the lifelines can help keep them from blowing overboard. If they dry in the cabin, a lot of that moisture will linger inside, amplifying the heat that is already there.
Bring Plenty of Water
Staying hydrated is the most important aspect of staying cool. Make sure you carry enough water for your whole crew, and then some more.
Bring Refreshing Snacks
Heat can make even the best of us a bit cranky but combating the exhaustion of spending a long day on the water can be aided by making sure you and your crew are fueled up. Fruits like grapes and watermelon not only provide that boost of energy you might need to stay on top of your game, they’re also full of water to help keep you hydrated.
Besides all of the other reasons sailors should prioritize preventing sunburn, they also make it harder for you to stay cool. Reapply your sunscreen more often than you think you need and try to wear lightweight sweat-wicking long-sleeved shirts and hats.
Publishers Note: This article first appeared in the July 2022 edition of SpinSheet Magazine. Based in the Eastport section of Annapolis, Maryland, SpinSheet is the ultimate Sailing publication in the Mid-Atlantic.