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Comfort on board

Page 1 - Keeping Cool

(>> page 2 - Cockpit comfort)

We were once given a prize at a flotilla last night party, the prize was a little pocket battery fan and we were awarded it because, the skipper reckoned, each time we arrived somewhere new we had all our sun awnings and shades erected before the anchor had even had time to bite. We like the sun, but once the temperature inside the boat crosses into the thirties we wilt, so we take a lot of trouble to keep as cool as we can.

Remember, when you consider our little ♥♥ rating that we're assessing how important these things are to us in the Med. Clearly in Britain Eberspacher heaters would get more and windscoops would get less; even on a summer's day!

The restaurant at the end of the plank

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Keeping the boat cool

Aderyn Glas in Alghero, Sardinia

Window covers Aderyn Glas literally has too much glass for comfort in the Med, while we love the ability to sit in the saloon and be able to watch everything that's going on there's no denying the saloon and the cabin get hot. We have the standard windscreen cover that wraps around the windscreen and side windows and we are often forced to use it when the day gets really hot, but it defeats the object because then the saloon is dark and we can't see out any more! ♥♥♥♥

Back in 2013 Ann decided she'd had enough of alternating between baking and seeing and being cool but blind and she discovered Phifertex, a tightly woven plastic mesh that measurably keeps out 75% of the sun's radiation while letting enough light in to allow us to see what's going on. The Holy Grail found! So she made up a complete set of screen covers that fit all the windows in the saloon and we frankly never take them off. ♥♥♥♥♥

We also reduced the heat transmission through the windows with reflective film of the type used to keep prying eyes out of vans and limosines. Apart from its ability to reduce the heat that gets through the glass it hides all those desireable little objects like laptops and DVD players from anyone ambling past. ♥♥

Back in Plymouth before we left, we fitted insulation in the ceiling of our cabin. The stuff we used was the 'rigid bubblepack foil' variety and we inserted it in layers above the ceiling panels. For it to be really effective the bubbles would have to be filled with an inert gas and we have no idea if they are. Ann thinks it works; maybe that's a placebo effect! ♥♥

As we worked our way south through the canals we decided that we would need more sunshades so we had some made. These are Oyster reflective lightweight material cut to sizes that allow us to drape one over the boom and another over the fore-deck. I think we've only once used the whole kit and that was in Alghero, a rather concrete oven of a port, but we often use individual sheets around the boat depending on where the sun is. ♥♥♥♥♥

Windscoop Inside the cabin we resort to fans and a windscoop. Ann made the windscoop from lightweight material and it suspends from the headsail sheets and wraps around the hatch coaming at the bottom held by a tight bungy. In this configuration it also fits over the mozzie net so we can have a breezed without the worry of insects getting in. ♥♥♥

The fans come in a range of sizes and types but their use is pretty much the same whichever one we use on the day. There's a big reciprocating office fan which is great but needs shore power, an almost equally big fan from a camping shop which also can run off shore power but has a 12 volt plug and even a facility for feeding it full of 'C' cells. Then there is a little five inch computer fan on a wire that gets plugged into the cigar lighter socket and which is good for moving the air when we are cooking. We can also fix it in the hatch over the cooker and use it like an extractor. There's also a big computer fan on a bracket in each cabin chosen for its slow speed and quietness, and an engine room fan. ♥♥♥♥♥

Galley arrangement

Galley with table

We have a fairly new Plastimo cooker with double hob, grill and oven which Ann enjoys cooking on. The problem comes as the season progresses and the ambient temperature rises, adding all that heat into the boat in the early evening is not such a good idea. So we've rigged up some fans. When the weather gets hot and all this doesn't work we cook outside. ♥♥♥♥ We've added a bit more preparation surface to the standard layout by bridging across from the sink to the fridge with the table you can see in the photograph. Of course the table is demountable and stows away on a hook on the bulkhead to the left. ♥♥

Cooking outside

Cockpit cooking

We went to the camping and caravanning show in 2010 with the express purpose of buying a cheap barbecue which we could adapt for use in the cockpit. Of course we didn't get one, we should have known better, nothing is ever cheap in the shows these days, but we came away with a Camping Gaz two-burner hob which we used throughout our September voyage of 2011. Why? Because cooking inboard again generates too much heat even with the fans so we can use this in the cockpit. ♥♥♥♥♥

Keeping the food and drink cool

New fridge

Fans feature in our refrigeration arrangement too. Our fridge is mounted in the saloon and the heat from its radiator is vented into the saloon air making a really nice positive feedback loop which makes the saloon hotter and hotter. At least, that's what happened until we fitted a little computer fan to blow the air from the radiator through the bulkhead into the much cooler heads and out of the heads hatch. By the middle of 2015 we will have a nice new Vitrifrigo 90 litre fridge, complete with freezer compartment, which cost a silly amount of money but which provides a larger store than the twenty-five year old Swedish design that came with the boat. That's an impressive life for a fridge though, and I hope the new one will live as long. Have no doubts, a fridge is essential to a us. ♥♥♥♥♥ We also have a 24 litre coolbox into which goes all the food and drink we want to keep cool (as opposed to cold: salads, veg and the like). These Peltier (or TEC - thermo-electric cooler) devices use a lot of current so we have to manage it and the box only gets used when there's spare energy either from the panels or when the motor is running. This is why it's a cool box, not a fridge. ♥♥


Whale Twist cockpit shower

In 2011 we fitted a Whale Twist cockpit shower of the hot and cold variety. ♥♥♥♥ Up until then we'd used the shower in the heads that Moody had designed in, and very good it is too especially with an extension pipe so that we can take it on deck. ♥♥♥♥♥ An alternative is a solar shower bag with a small 12 volt pump to produce a solar power shower but there's always the problem of moving the bag around and stringing it up and everything getting wet and sometimes it's too hot and... and... so it's not our preferred solution. ♥♥ There are two problems with the Moody shower: firstly we have to move all the stored stuff from the shower area in the heads and secondly - as always - the heat. A warm shower late in the day is great for washing off the suntan cream, sand, salt and insect repellent but the heat from the hot water just seeps into the boat. Now we have the cockpit shower and all is wonderful. Even better, we now have a solar water heating arrangement which can lift the 30 litres in the calorifier by ten degrees over the course of the day to provide water hot enough for showering and general washing.

Eberspacher heater

Okay, I've been rabbiting on for ages now about how to keep cool so why am I talking about a heater? Well, we have had occasion to use it in the very early spring when there is an odd cold evening (not many, but it has been known) and it's good to exercise all equipment anyway if you want it to keep working boys! Less obviously perhaps the Eberspacher will run as a simple fan delivering cold air throughout the boat; so back to our favourite theme! We also have the luxury of a remote control thanks to a kit from Maplins and we used to lie in bed in a cold old British morning and turn the heater on before we had to stagger out. If only we'd had a Teasmade too. ♥♥

(>> page 2 - Cockpit comfort)

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